JR West announced extension of ICOCA area on Sanyo Main Line, Ako Line, and Hokuriku Main Line will begin on September 15, 2018.
This means unification of each area, enabling passengers to go through Hokuriku or Sanyo area.
So far, ICOCA and the other acceptable cards can be used in
Toyama･Ishikawa Area(Hokuriku Area),
Okayama･Hiroshima･San-in Area(Sanyo, San-in Area).
But, taking trains between each area has not been allowed.
After September 15, these cards can be used in the following stations.
19 stations on Hokuriku Main Line(Ohmi-Shiotsu～Daishoji)
4 stations on Sanyo Main Line(Aioi～Wake)
This expansion includes unification of each area. By the way, shortest distance between boarding station and alighting station must be within 200km, except for some examples.
From Osaka, you can use IC cards to Harue, the 2nd station from Fukui,
and Nishi-Achi, neighboring to Kurashiki.
Even if it's more than 200km, you can use IC cards under the conditions below.
･Between stations in Osaka Metropolitan Area
･Between stations where Limited Express stops (Limited Express ticket is necessary as well as the card)
Bullet train is excluded from this area expansion. But, smart EX service is usable, as it's been.
This area expansion enables us to go through Niimi and Himeji from ICOCA Area on Shikoku Island(Takamatsu～Tadotsu), though Okayama Area has been the only area passengers from Shikoku Island can go through.
But, new regulation of the 200km limitation enables us to go through Himeji and Niimi.
After September 15, ICOCA Area will be the biggest IC card around the world. From Westernmost station to Easternmost station, it's more than 830km.