Save time and money to go to Niigata from Tokyo by train. Overnight rapid train Moonlight Echigo

***This train usually runs in peak periods. But since summer peak season in 2014, this train has not run any more. It seems that this train service is discontinued.***
Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.

Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.

Moonlight Echigo (ムーンライトえちご) is the overnight rapid service train that is operated between Shinjuku (新宿) and Niigata (新潟). This train used to be a scheduled train. But it was changed to a seasonal train. It is usually operated in same season as Moonlight Nagara, such as spring break (two weeks from late March to early April), summer break (late July to the end of August) and Christmas holidays. These periods are the seasons when “Seisyun 18 ticket” is sold. Anyone can buy this ticket. You can ride any local train throughout Japan for 5 days at 11500 yen. This train can be used by this ticket. So it is always busy.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. It may be hard to get a seat on this train because of only peak season operation. But it may be considerable for overnight transfer between Tokyo and Niigata, and any area in Tohoku and Hokuriku via Niigata. Let’s see the details about this train.

Route and timetable

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This train connects Shinjuku with Niigata. So you can use this train to Hokuriku area via Nagaoka and Tohoku area via Niigata. This train is a rapid service train that is a kind of local train. But this train stops at only 8 stations. It is very similar to limited express train service.

If you go to Hokuriku area, you may get off this train at Nagaoka. But Nagaoka arrival time is 03:39 am. It is too early to connect with other trains. Please see the connection schedule below.

Nagaoka Arr 03:39 am (Moonlight Echigo)
Nagaoka Dep 06:41 am (Local train to Naoetsu)
This local train takes you to only Naoetsu. And you will have 3 hours waiting time in early morning. How about an express train to Toyama or Kanazawa?

Nagaoka Arr 03:39 am (Moonlight Echigo)
Nagaoka Arr 07:50 am (Joetsu Shinkansen Toki #301)
Nagaoka Dep 08:46 am (Limited Express Hokuetsu #2 to Kanazawa)

But if you take this this express train, you don’t really need to take this train. Because the first Joetsu Shinkansen Toki depart from Tokyo at 06:08 am and arrive in Nagaoka at 07:50 am.

If you go to Tohoku area via Niigata, it is a bit better. Let’s see the connection.

Niigata Arr 04:51 am (Moonlight Echigo)
Niigata Dep 04:54 am (Local train to Murakami)

The connection is way better than Nagaoka. But this train takes you to Murakami only. If you want to take an express train, it is same story as to Hokuriku.

Niigata Arr 04:51 am (Moonlight Echigo)
Niigata Arr 08:14 am (Joetsu Shinkansen Toki #301)
Niigata Dep 08:34 am (limited express train Inaho #1 to Akita)

You don’t really need to take this train. The first Joetsu Shinkansen train is connected with Inaho. And also if you go to Akita, Akita Shinkansen is way faster than Joetsu Shinkansen and Inaho.

So if you go to either Hokuriku or Tohoku, this train let you save your money for hotels. And if you go to Niigata or other cities around Niigata or Nagaoka, this train takes you there as early as possible. But this train is not a right choice other than that.

View Moonlight Echigo in a larger map

Shinjuku (新宿)X
Ikebukuro (池袋)X
Omiya (大宮)X
Takasaki (高崎)X
Nagaoka (長岡)X
Mitsuke (見附)X
Higashi-Sanjo (東三条)X
Kamo (加茂)X
Niitsu (新津)X
Niigata (新潟)X

This train is a seasonal train. It is operated in the peak season only. Please check the most updated schedule and timetable at Seasonal Trains Schedule.

Accommodation and train formations

This train is operated by 183 series. 183 series was used for most of limited express train around Tokyo area. It is too old to operate as limited express train late days. But it is still okay as the rapid train. All cars are reserved ordinary seat. It does not have any berth, compartment, and even green cars. And this train does not have any non reserved cars either. You need to get a reserved seat before you ride.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

Reserved ordinary seat
Reserved ordinary seat of Moonlight Echigo Reserved ordinary seat of Moonlight Echigo Reserved ordinary seat of Moonlight Echigo Reserved ordinary seat of Moonlight Echigo Reserved ordinary seat of Moonlight Echigo

Train formation


R=Reserved ordinary seat


  1. Paul Woodcock says:

    I used this service last summer when I needed to get to Tokyo for a flight back to England. Yes, there are night buses which are cheaper, but they are quite uncomfortable. I have used Niigata Kotsu’s service, from Kashiwazaki to Tokyo, and the only benefit is that it is cheap. Otherwise its hot, and cramped. Willer are pretty good, but dont run from Kashiwaaki. I have to go to Nagaoka for them. Some of the seats are comfy, like the Relax +, but the regular Relax seat is again, a little cramped. There are other buses, but they only go from Niigata city.

    The Moonlight Echigo offered a nice alternative. More comfortable than the cheap buses, and cheaper than the comfortable buses, and more convenient since it stopped more! You will have to reserve a ticket if you want to ride, Because it looks like they try to block seats off. In my carriage, all the single riders where given a set of seats to themselves.Gives you extra space to stretch out, and for bags. The only people I saw occupying seats together was a couple of young businessmen who I guess where colleagues, and a couple. Otherwise, everyone else go a set each.

    I hope it keeps going! Whilst I may not use it so much, if I have to go to Tokyo for any reason, the Moonlight Echigo will be a popular choice!

  2. Jared says:

    if i go during september-october, will this train be in service? i dont mind paying the original price of the ticket if that is the onlyy one available

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Jared,

      Probably this train won’t run in September and October. Unfortunately in last several years, this train never run in autumn season.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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