Hokkaido train operation status in fall 2016. Guide for substitute train and bus service.

Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.
Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.

Tomamu – Obihiro segment will open on 22nd December.

Hokkaido was hit by very severe typhoon in late August. Many train lines are closed by this storm and many trains are suspended currently. Substitute bus service and tentative train are operated but trip time is much longer than original schedule. And also the accommodation of some trains are totally different from Limited Express train interior. It offers just commute train accommodation. It is obviously inconvenient. If you cannot accept this situation, I recommend you to change your trip plan. It may not be a right time to visit there.

Anyway I will guide the substitute train and bus service in this post.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Sapporo to/from Obihiro and Kushiro

Limited express Super Ozora
Limited express Super Ozora is suspended now.

This segment will open on 22nd December. Substitute bus and train will run until 21st December. On 22nd December, all trains will start running and back to normal.

Some part of tracks are damaged very seriously between Tomamu and Obihiro. Limited Express Super Tokachi and Super Ozora supposed to connect Sapporo and Obihiro in 2.5 hours , and connect Sapporo and Kushiro in 4.5 hours directly. But these express train services are currently suspended. You have to change trains and bus at Tomamu and Obihiro. It takes at least 3.5 hours between Sapporo and Obihiro, 5.5 hours between Sapporo and Kushiro. And also train service between Obihiro and Kushiro is provided by ordinary train car. It does not offer express train interior. It is a sort of commute train.

Limited Express train runs between Sapporo and Tomamu. This train has ordinary car and green car. You cannot book a seat in advance. All seats are non reserved seat and it is basically first come first serve basis. If all seats are full, you have to stand up in the car. If you use JR Pass Green, you can use green seat without any extra. Ordinary seat are covered by any type of JR Pass and Hokkaido Rail Pass.

Please see the current substitute service schedule below:

Eastbound (From Sappprp to Obihiro, Kushiro)

Limited Express train from Sapporo to Tomamu
This train stops at Shin-Sapporo, Minami-Chitose, Oiwake, Shin-Yubari and Shimukappu.

Station
Train number
LTD EXP
9031D
LTD EXP
9005D
LTD EXP
9007D
Sapporo 07:54 11:53 14:16
Minami
Chitose
08:25 12:26 14:48
Tomamu 09:34 13:38 16:02

Substitute bus service from Tomamu to Obihiro
This bus service connects Tomamu and Obihiro directly. It does not stop at any other stations.

Station
Bus number
1 3 5
Tomamu 09:55 14:00 16:25
Obihiro 11:25 15:30 17:55

Train service from Obihiro to Kushiro
This train is rapid service but it does not offer limited express train accommodation. It stops at Ikeda, Urahoro and Shiranuka only.

Station
Train number
9331D 9305D 9307D
Ogibiro 11:45 15:53 18:37
Kushiro 13:22 17:34 20:15

Wesstbound (From Obihiro, Kushiro to Sapporo)

Train service from Kushiro to Obihiro
This train is rapid service but it does not offer limited express train accommodation. It stops at Shiranuka, Urahoro and Ikeda only.

Station
Train number
9336D 9338D 9310D
Kushiro 08:23 10:37 14:50
Obihiro 09:57 12:14 16:25

Substitute bus service from Obihiro to Tomamu
This bus service connects Obihiro and Tomamu directly. It does not stop at any other stations.

Station
Bus number
2 4 6
Obihiro 10:20 12:40 16:45
Tomamu 11:50 14:10 18:15

Limited Express train from Tomamu to Sapporo
This train stops at Shimukapp, Shin-Yubari, Oiwake, Minami-Chitose and Shin-Sapporo.

Station
Train number
LTD EXP
9036D
LTD EXP
9038D
LTD EXP
9010D
Tomamu 12:12 14:32 18:36
Minami
Chitose
13:24 15:44 19:44
Sapporo 13:56 16:19 20:15

All train services and bus services between Tomamu and Kushiro can be taken by base fare ticket only. You must have limited express ticket to take train between Sapporo and Tomamu. If you use Hokkaido Rail Pass or JR Pass, these services are covered fully. But as I mentioned, some services are sorts of commute service. MIt does not give you any luxury interior and accommodation. You cannot get any refund even if you take these services.

This segment is damages very very seriously. JR Hokkaido said it will take until the end of November.

I update the train operation status at the link below too. Please refer this post too.

Train operation status

Sapporo to/from Abashiri

This segment has been restored completely on October 2nd, 2016. It is back to normal completely now.

18 thoughts on “Hokkaido train operation status in fall 2016. Guide for substitute train and bus service.”

  1. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Just want to double check if the rail line between Sapporo and Kushiro is fully open or if some sections are still closed? Like one of the readers here, I wasn’t able to find any information on the Super Ozora train for Feb.

    Any information would be good so that I can decide if we need to change our itinerary as we’re suppose to travel from Kushiro to Sapporo early Feb.

    Thanks,
    Ling

    1. Hi Ling san,

      There is only one segment closed. That is between Higashi-Shikagoe and Shintoku. But on this segment, only local train runs. Super Ozora runs on different line.
      Now it’s no problem at all to take Super Ozora between Sapporo and Kushiro.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    Your website is very useful and informative. I will be travelling to Hokkaido in mid-Dec with 10 family members in total inclusive of two young children. I plan to have Sapporo as home based for a week and making day-trip to Otaru and Noribetsu. Is it advisable? Which train shall be best for us for good scenic view and ample time to reasonably enjoy both cities? We also plan to make ski-trip to nearest ski resort accessible by train, any recommendation?

    Arigato,

    1. Hi Azhari,

      You can find the timetable of trains at the link below:
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/index.html

      Otaru is easy access. Jus hop on the train at Sapporo. There is no express trains. Only local and rapid run on this segment and those are commute trains. You just purchase a regular ticket. If you visit some places in Sapporo after trip to Otaru, the following deal is recommended. If you visit Otaru only, just buy a regular ticket.
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/railpass/welcome.html

      For the trip to Noboribetsu, you also find the timetable in the link above. There is only one way to get there. The scenery is okay but there is no other choices anyway. You have to take a bus to get Noboribetsu and it runs every 15 to 30 minutes and takes 15 minutes from the station.

      You also need to purchase a single ticket to get Noboribetsu. And also you will take an express train and need to pay seat fee. You can get the fare at Hyperdia:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      You can find access info about trip to Noboribetsu at the link below:
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6753.html

      You may get Tomamu ski resort by train.
      http://www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/en/index_L.php?utm_expid=11851828-7.D33MoenuQ9SNiSEdBZfryQ.1&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.snowtomamu.jp%2Fwinter%2Fski%2F

      But train does not run very often. You can find the train timetable in the post above.

      Otherwise consider to ski in Sapporo at Teine.
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5318.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Takeshiさん。
    Thank you for added this article, because recently when I checked at hyperpedia route Ueno – Obihiro should visit Abashiri, it makes time soooo long 🙁
    Hope next year on March is already fix it…because I’ll visit there.

  4. Hi, need help on the status for the jr hokkaido railway on oct17,2016.
    I was checking wth the JR train lately. Train to tomamu via Super ozora/tokachi both limited express train are announce suspended in all areas last sep2 brought by the typhoon. Do you happen to have ideas on this? Initial plan is to take train from sapporo clock tower to tomamu(hoshino resort). 7pm-10pm. Thanks.

    1. Hi Hanel,

      As you probably read the post above, the last one leave Sapporo at 14:06 and arrive Tomaku at 16:02. There is no other later train available.
      I think Hoshino resort operates bus between Sapporo/New Chitose airport and Tomamu. Please contact the hotel to make sure. You may get later transportation.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hello, Thanks so much for updating, since I plan to travel in 2 weeks!
    I would like to ask if the Abashiri to Kamikawa route and kamikawa to Sapporo route has a nice view while taking the JR train (to decide what is the best time of travelling- morning or evening). Thakns a lot!

    1. Hi Hana,

      The view is very scenic between Kamikawa and Abashiri. As long as you travel in daytime, it will be good.
      Kamikawa to Sapporo is okay but the view from Abashiri to Kamikawa is much better.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi,
    Would driving be a better option?
    Travel from Hakodate to Tomamu on 7 Oct
    Travel from Tomamu to Furano on 9 Oct
    Travel from Furano back to Sapporo on 10 Oct
    Otherwise how should I take the substitute trains/bus?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Melody,

      You can travel by train from Hakodate to Tomamu and from Furano to Sapporo. Even if train runs between Tomamu and Furano, it’s not very convenient. Train runs very few for this segment. If you can drive, you can drive between Tomamu and Furano. But actually I haven’t driven in Japan for more than 10 years. I don’t have any info about driving in Hokkaido.

      You can purchase a regular ticket to take tentative trains. It’s same as regular train. You need to take tentative train for Minami-Chitose to Tomamu only. You can take regular trains for other segment.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Thank you for posting this information!!! I haven’t been able to find information elsewhere in English with this much detail about substitute service. With the substitute train-bus-train, I think I can proceed with my plan to visit Kushiro in November.

    My sympathies to those in Hokkaido who have been affected by storm damage.

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