Luxury train begins second phase of service in Nagasaki

Kyodo, staff report

A luxury train dubbed Aru Ressha (“a certain train”) and operated by Kyushu Railway Co. began the second phase of its service in Kyushu on Sunday.

The elegant gold- and black-colored train, officially titled JR Kyushu Sweet Train, will make round-trip runs mostly on weekends between Sasebo and Nagasaki stations in Nagasaki Prefecture.

The “sweet” in the train’s name makes reference to French-inspired confections that are served during the journey and produced by chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, the recipient of two Michelin stars for his restaurant in Tokyo’s Minami-Aoyama.

Aru Ressha was designed by Eiji Mitooka and modeled after a legendary train made nearly a century ago by the U.S.-based J.G. Brill Company for the Kyushu Railway. By the time it was delivered to Japan in 1908, Kyushu Railway had been nationalized and it never made it into commercial service.

In a bid to diversify its revenue sources, JR Kyushu has embarked on a series of ventures in recent years that target high-end tourists. In 2013, the company launched a luxury sleeping car train, also designed by Mitooka, called Seven Stars in Kyushu.

From August to October of this year, the Sweet Train ran between Oita and Hita stations in Kyushu’s Oita Prefecture. The service in Nagasaki will be offered until the end of March 2016, with one-way trips starting at ¥20,000 ($166).

[The embedded video shows the train traveling the Oita-Hita route in August.]