Japan Railway Journal - Season : 6

Season 6 Episode 1 - Sunrise Seto and Izumo: The Last of the Overnight Sleeper Trains

Once an icon in Japan, sleeper trains (commonly known as "blue trains") disappeared in the wake of faster and more convenient modes of transport. Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo are now the only sleeper trains still in regular service. The Sunrise trains consist of private rooms and semi-private, partitioned "nobi-nobi" rooms for passengers on a budget. Join us as we journey overnight to see their charm, and find out why they are gaining popularity once again. Also on the show is a special guest, Donna Burke, the English voice of the Shinkansen! Air Date : 17th-Jan-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 2 - Echigo Tokimeki Railway: A Railway for Everyone

Echigo Tokimeki Railway in Niigata Prefecture started service in 2015, coinciding with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. However, due to a drop in passenger numbers, the company is currently 490 million yen in debt. The railway's hopes now rest with a new president, Akira Torizuka, who was appointed in September 2019. See how the president plans to revive the railway with exciting ideas that will benefit everyone. Air Date : 13th-Feb-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 3 - A Guide to Tokyo's Airport Access Lines

With the Tokyo 2020's big events fast approaching, visitors from around the world are expected to enter Japan through Tokyo's 2 international airports. JR East's "Narita Express" and Keisei Electric Railway's "Skyliner" service Narita Airport, while Keikyu Corporation and Tokyo Monorail service Haneda Airport. See how the railways are working to attract passengers by updating services, improving convenience and offering special discounts. Air Date : 26th-Mar-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 4 - Kintetsu Railway's Hinotori: Challenging the Shinkansen with Comfort

Kintetsu Railway (known as the "kingdom of limited express trains") introduced the new "Series 80000 Hinotori," which operates between Osaka and Nagoya in March 2020. With comfort in mind, see how Kintetsu Railway developed its luxurious new limited express train with reclining backshell seats, ample legroom and more, to compete with the high-speed Shinkansen. Air Date : 16th-Apr-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 5 - Takanawa Gateway Station: The New Gateway to Tokyo

For the first time in almost half a century, a new station was added to the JR Yamanote Line. Takanawa Gateway Station is located between Shinagawa and Tamachi Stations. This new station is part of a redevelopment project that includes plans to build hotels, offices and apartments, transforming the area into a global hub. Designed by Kuma Kengo (known for his work on the new national stadium), the station combines elements inspired by traditional Japanese design with the latest technology. See all this and more as we take a look at the exciting new Takanawa Gateway Station. Air Date : 30th-Apr-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 6 - Securing the Future of Japan's Local Railways

Across Japan there are 95 local railways, many of which are now struggling to survive. The aging population, a declining birth rate, an increase in motorists and the poor financial situation of local governments has made things difficult for the railway industry. In addition, the impact of the coronavirus is taking its toll. Now, local railways are reexamining the significance of their role in local communities, and how best to work with these communities and local governments to ensure their survival. Join us as we take a look at case studies from previous episodes, and talk to a researcher from a major think tank that has been researching ways to improve local railways nationwide. Air Date : 4th-Jun-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 7 - The Blue Ribbon & Laurel Prize: Japan's Best New Trains

Established in 1953, the Japan Railfan Club (which has more than 3,000 members) awards its "Blue Ribbon Prize" and "Laurel Prize" to outstanding new vehicles that began service the previous year. From the 16 new vehicles nominated in 2020, Seibu Railway's "Laview" was awarded the "Blue Ribbon Prize," while JR Shikoku's Series 2700 diesel car was awarded the "Laurel Prize." Join us and Mr. Kato Hiroyuki (one of the directors of the Japan Railfan Club) as we take a closer look at the recipients, the different technologies, and the designs. Air Date : 9th-Jul-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 8 - Bicycle Onboard: Cycling with JR East

JR East's cycle train, which stopped running due to the coronavirus pandemic, resumed operation from July. B.B.BASE (Boso Bicycle Base) began service in 2018. Noticing an increase in cyclists, JR East's Chiba branch decided to develop a "wheel-on wheel-off" cyclist-friendly train, with the goal of becoming the base for cyclists around the Boso Peninsula. Join us as we take a closer look at Japan's first dedicated cycle train, as well as the history of bicycles and trains in Japan with special guest Michael Rice from "CYCLE AROUND JAPAN." Air Date : 30th-Jul-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 9 - Heisei Chikuho Railway: A Tourist Train Recovering from the Pandemic

Heisei Chikuho Railway is a third sector railway in Fukuoka Prefecture. In 2018, they began operating "Japan's slowest tourist train," serving French cuisine made from fresh local produce onboard. Unfortunately, this service was discontinued due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the company is getting ready to resume its operation. See how the company plans to come back, and what plans the company president has for the future of the Heisei Chikuho Railway. Air Date : 7th-Aug-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 10 - Tsugaru Railway: Surviving the Coronavirus Pandemic

Celebrating its 90th year, Tsugaru Railway in Aomori Prefecture runs by many popular tourist spots, and the railway's "stove train" is also a popular tourist attraction in winter. However, the impact of the coronavirus has caused sales revenue to drop by 70% compared to the previous year. Known for his unique ideas, see how the company's president plans to survive and come back from the coronavirus pandemic. Air Date : 18th-Sep-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 11 - JR Freight: In Business for the Long Haul

In March 2020, JR Freight opened a large-scale distribution center, "Tokyo Rail Gate West." This center was set up as an all-in-one facility to store and transport goods easily and efficiently in response to a nationwide shortage of long-haul truck drivers. Compared to road freight, rail freight has less impact on the environment and requires fewer workers to operate (a boon in the time of COVID-19). See JR Freight's plans to become a total-service distributor after the coronavirus pandemic. Air Date : 16th-Oct-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 12 - Beyond the Pandemic: Discussing the Railway with Industrial Designer Mitooka Eiji

Internationally acclaimed industrial designer Mitooka Eiji is Japan's leading designer of railway vehicles. He has worked on more than 40 trains across Japan, including the luxury cruise train "Seven Stars in Kyushu" and JR Kyushu's Series 800 Shinkansen, as well as local railway trains such as Shinano Railway's "Rokumon" and Wakayama Electric Railway's "Tama Train." His latest work, "36+3," makes its debut in October. In this program, Mr. Mitooka shares his thoughts on how the railway will change after the coronavirus pandemic. Air Date : 30th-Oct-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 13 - JR West: Redefining the Role of the Railway Post Pandemic

JR West is developing new services in response to lifestyle changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. One service involves the idea of a "workcation." JR West is now experimenting with packages that enable people to travel, stay and work in rural areas away from their homes in the city. To improve tourism, JR West has introduced a new tourist train called "etSETOra." The high-speed cruiser "SEA SPICA" and the "TWILIGHT EXPRESS MIZUKAZE" will also resume operation. Join us as we discuss the future of the railway post-pandemic with JR West's president, Mr. Hasegawa Kazuaki. Air Date : 27th-Nov-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 14 - Tenryu Hamanako Railroad: Working with the Community to Revitalize the Railway

The 67.7km Tenryu Hamanako Railroad in Shizuoka Prefecture is a third sector railway that connects 5 cities and 1 town. The railway is famous for its railway heritage, remnants of which can be found along the line, such as a turntable and roundhouse, old station buildings and bridges, 36 of which are registered tangible cultural property of Japan. This year marks the railway's 80th anniversary, but the coronavirus pandemic has seen ridership decline. See how Tenryu Hamanako Railroad is working with the local community to revitalize the area and make a comeback. Air Date : 17th-Dec-2020  Read More

Season 6 Episode 15 - Reviewing the New Trains of 2020

Many new express, commuter and tourist trains, as well as a sleeper train, began service in 2020. See the latest express trains, including the Tokaido Shinkansen "N700S," Kintetsu Railway's "HINOTORI" and JR East's luxurious "SAPHIR ODORIKO." Also, see the tourist train "etSETOra," which operates in the Setouchi region, and JR Kyushu's richly designed "36 Plus 3." In addition, see the "WEST EXPRESS GINGA," the first new sleeper train to be introduced in 21 years. Join us as we take a look back at Japan's latest trains and trends. Air Date : 25th-Dec-2020  Read More

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