The Jōetsu Shinkansen (上越新幹線?) is a high-speed shinkansen railway line connecting Tokyo and Niigata, Japan, via the Tōhoku Shinkansen, operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East).
The program was initiated in 1971 by Niigata-born prime minister Tanaka Kakuei. Built at a cost of $6.3 billion was built "to establish closer ties with Tokyo and promote regional development".
Trial runs over the line began in November 1980, reaching a record 210 km/h in 1981. Regular service began on 15 November 1982. The line was initially planned to terminate at Shinjuku Station, but economic considerations pushed JNR to merge the line with the existing Tōhoku Shinkansen line at Ōmiya.
In September 1991, a 400 Series Shinkansen train set a speed record of 345 km/h on the Jōetsu Shinkansen line, and in December 1993, the STAR21 experimental train managed 425 km/h. The maximum speed for regular services on the line in 2012 is 245 km/h except for the section between Jomo-Kogen and Urasa which is 275 km/h for trains travelling towards Niigata and the urban section between Tokyo and Ōmiya which is 110 km/h.
The Basic Plan specifies that the Jōetsu Shinkansen should actually start from Shinjuku, which would necessitate building 30 km of additional Shinkansen track from Ōmiya. While some land acquisitions along the existing Saikyō Line were made, no construction ever started. To this day, a portion of underground land near Shinjuku Station remains reserved, causing the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line to be built further underground than would otherwise have been necessary.
If the capacity, however, on the current Tokyo-Ōmiya section proves insufficient after the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension between Nagano and Kanazawa and the opening of the Hokkaidō Shinkansen between Aomori and Hakodate, the construction of the link between Shinjuku and Ōmiya stations may proceed.
Provisions were also made for extending the line from Niigata to Niigata Airport.