Odakyu Electric Railway Co. has unveiled a new design for its signature Romancecar limited express train connecting Tokyo with the hot-spring resort of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture.
The new train will offer luxurious trips to and from the famed area near to Mount Fuji.
The 70000 series Romancecar, which has not had a new model for a decade, will begin operations from March 2018 between Shinjuku Station and Hakone-Yumoto or Katase-Enoshima stations on the Odakyu Line.
In addition, an upgraded version of Romancecar EXE will come into service as early as March next year.
Odakyu spokesman Shinichi Mikawa said the trains will be introduced to satisfy modern needs and to offer high-end trips to foreign tourists heading to the resort.
“There is increasing demand on Romancecar to offer luxurious trips,” said Mikawa. “We are responding to such demand by replacing the old 7000 series train with the new one.”
Both trains will be equipped with a large storage area for baggage, larger bathrooms, and barrier-free universal design with greater space allocated to passengers traveling in wheelchairs.
Security cameras connected to a system monitored by train crew members will be installed in each carriage, and free Wi-Fi service will also be available.
The Romancecar has been in operation for over 50 years, and Odakyu has been a pioneer in luxury train travel in Japan.
However, this year it has lagged behind its rivals in announcing fleet upgrades.
In April, Tobu Railway Co. announced that its new 500 series train, designed by industrial designer Kiyoyuki Okuyama, will start operating from next spring.
Seibu Railway Co. revealed in March that a new express train will come into service in 2018.
Designed by architect Kazuyo Sejima, Seibu’s new train reflects the surrounding scenery in its mirror-like exterior surface, something that surprised many train fans.
But Mikawa said Odakyu doesn’t necessarily consider other railway companies as its rivals since other operators take tourists to different destinations.
“The destination of Romancecar is Hakone, and we’d simply like the passengers to enjoy the beautiful view outside the window,” said Mikawa.
He explained that the 70000 series will have larger windows compared to previous models and that it also features observation cars. Views of the landscape that can be seen from the observation cars will also be available on monitors installed on each car.
Odakyu hopes to increase the number of business passengers by increasing the number of trains.
The company has been installing new rail tracks between Setagaya-Daita and Higashi-Kitazawa stations in Tokyo to make it a four-track line.
When construction finishes in March 2018, Odakyu will be able to operate up to 36 trains per hour, up from the current 27. It will also help long-distance commuters by increasing Romancecar trains from the present 26 to 31 during weekday rush-hours.