Luxury the rule for new trains in Kyushu

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Kyushu Railway Co. is introducing new trains specially designed for tourists, including luxury cars for a three-day trip around Kyushu.

The railway is looking to draw more tourists to the island to capitalize on the March 12 start of shinkansen service from Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture to the city of Kagoshima.

The luxury Cruise Train will debut in spring or summer 2013 and cost passengers between ¥150,000 to ¥200,000 a head. The train will have six to seven cars equipped with sofas, dining tables and wide windows. Some will have lounge and restaurant facilities. Each trip will be limited to about 30 passengers.

“The Cruise Train will be popular among rich tourists, such as those from China, who come to Kyushu on luxury cruise ships,” said Hiroshi Mizuhata, chief of the government’s new Japan Tourism Agency.

The railway is also planning to launch tourist train services on the Misumi Line in Kumamoto Prefecture. The new cars for both of the tourist trains will be designed by Eiji Mitooka, 63.

JR Kyushu has already launched a number of tourist-oriented trains, including one pulled by a steam locomotive between Kumamoto and Miyaji stations on the Hohi Line in Kumamoto Prefecture.