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JR East's luxury train to debut in May along with passenger lounge

2017.03.10 | Tokyo

Premium lounge for sleeper train passengers unveiled The premium lounge for passengers of East Japan Railway Co.'s new Train Suite Shiki-Shima luxury sleeper train is shown to the media at JR Ueno Station in Tokyo on March 9, 2017. The train will start running in May. (Kyodo)

East Japan Railway Co. said Thursday that passengers on its luxury sleeper train set to begin operation in May will also be offered use of an exclusive lounge at a terminal in Tokyo.

The 10-car "Train Suite Shiki-Shima" will take travelers from Ueno Station through parts of Japan, including the northernmost main island of Hokkaido and the Tohoku northeastern region.

While some conventional sleeper express trains have halted services as air travel has become more popular, package tours using super-luxury trains have been attracting passengers such as retired couples and foreign tourists.

Kyushu Railway Co. ventured into the new business in 2013, introducing the "Seven Stars" superliner for tours through famous destinations on the southwestern main island, while West Japan Railway Co. will start operating its "Twilight Express Mizukaze" in June.

East Japan Railway offers a four-day, three-night trip through Hokkaido, Tohoku and other areas at up to 950,000 yen (around $8,300) per person, which takes passengers to such tourist spots as the Nikko Toshogu shrine, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site in Tochigi Prefecture.

In the city of Hakodate, Hokkaido, passengers can visit a morning bazaar and a museum on Ainu indigenous people in the region, the operator said.

Passengers who choose the two-day, one-night trip to areas in central and eastern Japan can take part in activities such as visiting wineries in Yamanashi Prefecture.

The operator also prepared the exclusive lounge at Ueno Station, which was unveiled to the media on Thursday, using furniture produced by companies in prefectures the train will travel through.

"It's the right place to start a luxury trip," said Kiyoki Okuyama, who designed the lounge as well as the train cars.

==Kyodo

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