This train was discontinued on March 13, 2015. Hokuriku Shikansen has started to run on March 14, 2015. You can get Kanazawa and Toyama by Shinkansen from Tokyo without any transfer and much faster. If you need an access to Kanazawa from Tokyo, please find more info at the post, Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo.
If you need to transfer between Toyama/Kanazawa and Niigata, you have to take Hokuriku Shinkansen and transfer to limited express Shirayuki at Jouetsu-Myoko station. Unfortunately there will be no choice to take direct train service between Kanazawa/Tokyo and Niigata. Please find more info at the post, Limited Express Shirayuki. Intercity express between Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata.
Hokuetsu (北越) is operated between Niigata and Kanazawa. If you go to Kanazawa or Toyama from Tokyo, you may take Joetsu Shinkansen and transfer to this train at Nagaoka station.
Hokuetsu is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But if you are hurry, you have a choice to take Hakutaka. But Hakutaka is operated on both JR lines and Non JR lines. That means you need to pay the extra. I would like to show you the details about Hokuetsu and the difference between Hokuetsu and Hakutaka.
Route, schedule and time required
Hokuetsu takes you to Kanazawa and Toyama via Nagaoka on Joetsu Shinkansen. But the major route to Kanazawa/Toyama is via Echigo-Yuzawa on Joetsu Shinkansen and take limited express “Hakutaka (はくたか)” since this route is faster. But this limited express train go through non-JR line, Hokuetsu Kyuko Hokuhoku line between Echigo-Yuzawa and Naoetsu. So you need to pay extra. I tell you the difference.
What is the difference between Hokuetsu and Hakutaka?
Hokuetsu runs 5 round trips. Hakutaka runs 13 round trip. It takes just less than 4 hours from Tokyo to Kanazawa by Hakutaka and takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes by Hokuetsu. So Hakutaka is obviously much faster and more convenient to go to Kanazawa. If you really want to save the time, take Hakutaka. The extra fare is about 2300 yen. If you need more information about Hakutaka, please refer this post, Limited Express Hakutaka.
View Hokuetsu in a larger map
x:All trains stop *:some trains stop
Hokuetsu is operated by JR East refurbished 485 series. The seat configuration in Green seat is 2+2. The seat pitch is 1160mm. In Ordinary seat has same seat configuration. The seat pitch is 910mm.
*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.
*G=Green seat R=Reserved seat NR=Non reserved seat
Car #3 sometimes is used as the non reserved seat.