• Kyodo

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Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) on Tuesday launched its fourth hydrofoil on the Fukuoka-Pusan route in the hope of increasing passengers using the sealane between Japan and South Korea.

The JB2, nicknamed Beetle, can carry up to 215 passengers and travel the route in 2 hours and 55 minutes, JR Kyushu said.

“We hope this will serve as a chance to revitalize the route between Japan and South Korea,” JR Kyushu President Susumu Ishihara said in an inauguration ceremony held at Hakata port.

JR Kyushu said it expects the number of passenger services on the route to increase by 20 percent this year from last year, and the number of weekend round-trip services by one to up to five.

The Fukuoka-Pusan route opened in 1991 and the number of passengers on the route totaled some 300,000 in fiscal 2002, making it one of the main bilateral transport routes.

However, the number of Japanese passengers on the route fell by about 50 percent in the April-June period from a year earlier in the wake of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in other parts of Asia.

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