The San'yō Shinkansen (山陽新幹線) is a line of the Japanese Shinkansen high-speed rail network, connecting Shin-Osaka in Osaka with Hakata Station in Fukuoka, the two largest cities in western Japan. Operated by the West Japan Railway Company (JR West), it is a westward continuation of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen and also serves other major cities in between on Honshu and Kyushu islands such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Kitakyushu. The Kyushu Shinkansen continues south of Hakata to Kagoshima. The San'yō Shinkansen connects Hakata with Osaka in two and a half hours, with trains operating at a maximum operating speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), with the following exceptions: Eastbound trains have a maximum speed between Himeji and Shin-Kobe of 275 km/h (171 mph) and westbound trains have a maximum limit of 285 km/h (177 mph) from Shin-Ōsaka to Shin-Kobe and 275 km/h from Shin-Kobe to Nishi-Akashi. Some Nozomi trains operate continuously on San'yō and Tōkaidō Shinkansen lines, connecting Tokyo and Hakata in five hours.
|Locale||Osaka, Hyōgo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Fukuoka Prefectures|
|Daily ridership||110,004 passengers per km per day (FY2014)|
|Opened||15 March 1972|
|Depot(s)||Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima, Hakata|
|Rolling stock||500 series|
|Line length||553.7 km (344.1 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Electrification||25 kV AC, 60 Hz, overhead catenary|
|Operating speed||300 km/h (185 mph)|
Train sets operating on the line include:
All stations on the San'yō Shinkansen are owned and operated by JR West, with the exception of Shin-Osaka which is run by Central Japan Railway Company (JR central). Kodama trains stop at all stations; other services have varying stopping patterns. All trains stop at Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura, and Hakata. Nozomi and Mizuho trains cannot be used by tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass.
Construction of the San'yō Shinkansen between Shin-Ōsaka and Okayama was authorized on September 9, 1965, and commenced on March 16, 1967. Construction between Okayama and Hakata commenced on February 10, 1970. The Shin-Ōsaka to Okayama segment opened on March 15, 1972; the remainder of the line opened on March 10, 1975. The first Hikari trains, using 0 series trains, made the Shin-Ōsaka to Hakata run in 3 hours 44 minutes. This was shortened to 2 hours 59 minutes in 1986 with an increase in maximum speed to 220 km/h (140 mph). 100 series trains, introduced in 1989, boosted maximum speed to 230 km/h (140 mph) and reduced travel time to 2 hours 49 minutes.
Tokyo to Hakata Nozomi services began on March 18, 1993, using 300 series trains. The Shin-Ōsaka to Hakata run was reduced to 2 hours 32 minutes, at a maximum speed of 270 km/h (170 mph). On March 22, 1997, the 500 series entered service on Nozomi services between Shin-Ōsaka and Hakata, reducing that run to 2 hours 17 minutes at a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).
The 700 series was introduced on Tokyo-Hakata Nozomi services on March 13, 1999, coinciding with the opening of Asa Station, and on March 11, 2000, 700 series trains were introduced on Hikari Rail Star services.
Ogori Station was renamed Shin-Yamaguchi Station on October 1, 2003.
The N700 series was launched on Nozomi services on July 1, 2007, with a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) (compared to 285 km/h or 177 mph for the 700 series).
From the start of the revised timetable on March 12, 2011, new Mizuho and Sakura inter-running services commenced between Shin-Ōsaka and Kagoshima on the Kyushu Shinkansen using new N700-7000 and N700-8000 series 8-car trainsets. This boosted JR West's market share in the Osaka-Kagoshima passenger market from 13 percent in March 2011 to 35 percent in March 2012. JR West began offering discounted advance purchase fares on this route in July 2013 in an effort to compete for market share with new low-cost airlines such as Peach. With the launch of Mizuho and Sakura services, nearly all of the Hikari services operating solely on the San'yō Shinkansen (mostly Rail Star services) were discontinued as it was deemed redundant.
In fiscal 2005, the Sanyo Shinkansen line ridership was 58 million passengers/year, or about 159,000 daily.
- 区間別平均通過人員および旅客運輸収入（平成26年度） [Average passenger figures and revenue by line (Fiscal 2014)] (PDF) (in Japanese). Japan: West Japan Railway Company. 2015. p. 58. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- 300km/hのトップランナー [300 km/h Top Runners]. Japan Railfan Magazine. Vol. 52 no. 612. Japan: Kōyūsha Co., Ltd. April 2012. p. 14.
- "Budget airlines challenge Shinkansen". Bloomberg. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.