“THE ROYAL EXPRESS” runs around Hokkaido – A cruise train taking expedition from Izu

Tokyu Corportation and JR Hokkaido will operate the sightseeing train “THE ROYAL EXPRESS 〜HOKKAIDO CRUISE TRAIN〜” in its fourth season on routes within Hokkaido from July to September 2023.

A sightseeing train "THE ROYAL EXPRESS -HOKKAIDO CRUISE TRAIN-" jointly operated by Tokyu Railway and JR Hokkaido (中村 昌寛/PhotoAC)
A sightseeing train “THE ROYAL EXPRESS -HOKKAIDO CRUISE TRAIN-” jointly operated by Tokyu Railway and JR Hokkaido (中村 昌寛/PhotoAC)

A train running every summer from 2020

The 2100 series train, known as “THE ROYAL EXPRESS” owned by Izukyu, a Tokyu Group company, is a cruise train featuring a luxurious interior produced by Mr. Eiji Mitooka, who presides over the Dawn Design Institute (Itabashi City, Tokyo). It usually runs directly from JR East’s Yokohama Station to the Izukyu Line, and is sold as a cruise plan that allows you to enjoy the nature and tastes of the Izu area, Shizuoka.

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In 2019, JR Hokkaido and Tokyu launched a project to run this train in Hokkaido as “HOKKAIDO CRUISE TRAIN” and build travel products to tour various areas of Hokkaido. At that time, demand for tourism was sluggish due to the impact of the Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake that occurred in September 2018, so the aim was to propose the attractiveness of tourism resources mainly in the eastern Hokkaido area and lead to regional revitalization.

In addition to the two companies, JR East, which transfers the power supply vehicle necessary for operation to Tokyu Corporation, and JR Freight, which forwards and transports the vehicle to Hokkaido, participated in the project. The first operation on August 28, 2020 was realized through the cooperation of the four companies. That year, due to the spread of the COVID-19, some scheduled operations were canceled, and the total number of operations was reduced from 5 to 3, making it a difficult start.

The next summer season of 2021 has also been decided to operate, and the number of operations has expanded to 7 times. The “Premium Moment at Ginrinso”, a plan to stay overnight in Otaru, which is popular for its nostalgic townscape, was sold for the first time this year.

In the following summer of 2022, a total of eight operations were carried out. A special plan “HOKKAIDO CRUISE LIMITED” was set up for the first time, incorporating activities such as canoeing on Lake Kussharo, the headwaters of the Kushiro River, and allowing you to enjoy the nature of eastern Hokkaido and a relaxing stay (See the chart below for details such as each plan of “THE ROYAL EXPRESS -HOKKAIDO CRUISE TRAIN-” in 2023).

[Chart] Each plan of "THE ROYAL EXPRESS -HOKKAIDO CRUISE TRAIN-" in 2023

The maximum number of operations with an additional new course

In 2023, which will be the fourth season, it will operate from July to September, and the number of operations will be further increased to a total of nine times. All trains depart from and arrive at Sapporo Station, and Tokyu will sell them as a travel product for 3 nights and 4 days, including meals on the train prepared by local chefs, hotel stays, and local activities.

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This season, “THE ROYAL EXPRESS” will be running on the Soya Line for the first time, and a new plan “HOKKAIDO Japan’s northernmost trip” to Wakkanai, the northernmost place in Japan, will be offered. From Cape Soya, you can experience the endless view of the sea and sky, and from the drive route “Ororon Line” that runs on a dedicated bus, you can enjoy the beautiful Mt. Rishiri and the untouched prairie.

The basic plan “HOKKAIDO CRUISE TRAIN” will been renewed, and you can fully feel the real charm of Hokkaido by stopping at the magnificent Tokachi Plain, Shiretoko, a World Natural Heritage site, and the picturesque scenery of Furano and Biei. “HOKKAIDO CRUISE LIMITED,” where you can get in touch with the land of Hokkaido, and “Premium Moment at Ginrinso,” where you can stay overnight at a famous inn in Otaru, will continue to be set.

Sales for each plan will start on February 6, 2023 (Monday) on the official website. In the case of two people using one room, the travel fee for the basic room is 820,000 to 880,000 yen per person. The maximum number of applicants per departure is 15 pairs and 30 people, and if there are many applicants, it will be sold by lottery.

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