Japanese railways have long been industry leaders in speed, with the Shinkansen network of high-speed “bullet trains” leading the way, but in recent years design has become increasingly important. SmartRail World detailed last month the growing focus upon this with an exclusive discussion with JPA Design. But today we look at what we feel confident will become the world’s most luxurious train – 10 carriages long but accommodating a maximum of just 34 passengers in a setting aiming to match the standards and expectations of a high-end hotel.
(Top right: An artist’s rendering shows how the interior of the lead car will look on a luxury train JR East hopes to introduce in 2017. The driver will presumably be seated in a sunken control compartment at the front of the car. | JR EAST)
First reported on the Asahi Shimbun website this train, developed by East Japan Railway Co. is set to make its first journey in Spring 2017 and will carry passengers first throughout eastern Japan and later the entire nation. This yet to be named service is JR East’s answer to popular Nanatsuboshi (Seven Stars) train operated by Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu), Japan’s first sleeper train designed solely for tourism which has proved very popular since its launch in October 2013.
Unveiled this month, the champagne gold coloured train will be decorated like an upscale hotel, with glass-walled observation spaces on both ends of the train for passengers to view the passing landscape. A deluxe suite car will have two rooms, each of which can accommodate up to two guests. One of the two deluxe suite compartments will be a two-story structure. The first floor will have two beds, while the second floor will be covered with traditional Japanese tatami mats so passengers can relax while enjoying the scenery through a large picture window. The new luxury train will also have a dining for 5 star food car and lounge car for relaxation.
(Concept Design: Deluxe Suite Room - | JR EAST)
Prices have yet to be determined. Although judging by the popularity of its rival the Nanatsuboshi train where a two-day, one-night trip costs hundreds of thousands of yen- JR East’s entry into the luxury train market is likely to prove just as popular and lucrative. With the luxury market growing fastest in Asia, and Japan marked as the main growth driver in 2014, with luxury sales rising 9-11 percent to €19-20 billion, this remarkable looking train is unlikely to be the last of its kind developed.
East Japan Railway Company (JR East) is the largest passenger railway company in the world and are exhibiting and Yamato Fukuta (Chief Researcher, Advanced Railway System Development Center) and Shunichi Sakuta (Manager Tokyo Office – Electrical Construction & System Integration) will be speaking at SmartRail Asia (26-28 November, Bangkok, Thailand). Whilst Takeshi Hatada, Director, East Japan Railway Company (New York Office) wil be an expert speaker at SmartRail USA (29-30th October, Charlotte, NC, USA).