JR Kyushu welcomes a new train designer – For a laxe sightseeing train to Yufuin, Beppu

JR Kyushu announced that they will operate a new sightseeing train on the Kyudai Line (Yufu Kogen Line) in line with the large-scale tourism project “Fukuoka/Oita Destination Campaign (DC)” to be held in the spring of 2024.

JR Kyushu KIHA 72 series diesel train "YUFUIN-NO-MORI III" operated as a D&S train / Limited Express "YUFUIN-NO-MORI" (ninochan555/PhotoAC)
JR Kyushu KIHA 72 series diesel train “YUFUIN NO MORI III” operated as a D&S train / Limited Express “YUFUIN NO MORI” (ninochan555/PhotoAC)

Only one service per day between Hakata and Yufuin/Beppu

JR Kyushu operates tourist trains full of individuality on each line in Kyushu, and promotes them under the group called “D&S trains”, which combines special designs with the stories of the local areas.

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On the Yufu Kogen Line, the “YUFUIN NO MORI” trains, the pioneer of D&S trains, run daily between Hakata and Yufuin, Beppu. It is a maximum of 3 round trips per day and an enough number of services. Also, mainly on weekends, another D&S train “ARU RESSHA” runs between Hakata and Yufuin, where you can enjoy luxurious course meals on board.

The concept of the new train, which is scheduled to start services in the spring of 2024, is ‘a train where you can feel the “fodo (Japanese: 風土)” of the Yufu Kogen Line.’ The “fodo” includes the climate and topography, or the food and customs of the land, and the scenery created from it. It will be developed as a train where you can enjoy these with your five senses.

The train runs from Hakata to Yufuin and Beppu via the Kagoshima Line, Yufu Kogen Line, and Nippo Line. It will be served only one trip each way per day, departing from Hakata Station on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and departing from Beppu Station and Yufuin Station on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. No service on Thursdays. The time required between Hakata and Beppu is 3 hours and 16 to 27 minutes on the current “YUFUIN NO MORI”, but the new train will will take about 5 hours.

All cars on the new train will be the green seats, so the fee will be higher than on the “YUFUIN NO MORI” with regular reservation seats. In the train, they will prepare a lunch box filled with the charm of both Fukuoka and Oita prefectures, centering on the ingredients along the Yufu Kogen Line. So you will be able to spend a luxurious time on your trip with the majestic nature from the train window.

(See the chart below for details such as the route of the new D&S train on the Yufu Kogen Line, the timetable of the current “YUFUIN NO MORI”.)

[Chart] The route of the new D&S train on the Yufu Kogen Line, the timetable of the current "YUFUIN NO MORI"

Switch from “Eiji Mitooka Design”

IFOO (headquartered: Kagoshima City), which was selected as the designer of this new D&S train, is a design company based in Kagoshima Prefecture that also engages in architectural construction and tourism. They applied for the project “Kyushu Dream Stations” launched by JR Kyushu in September 2021, and were certified as a “lively partner” to create liveliness in the station and the surrounding area.

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Until March 2024, IFOO will be in charge of the interior renovation work of the station building at Kirishima Jingu Station (Kirishima City, Kagoshima) on the Nippo Line. In addition to renovating the concourse and waiting room into a relaxing space, they will utilize the space of the station staff room to launch the restaurant “SAYA”, which will serve as a hub for Kagoshima’s handicrafts and food.

In addition, since 2019, the company has been operating “Hougetsu,” a luxury private lodging facility in Kagoshima City that incorporates the architectural culture of samurai residences. Positioned as a base for handing down Kagoshima’s unique traditional culture to future generations, in a private space limited to one group per day, you can relax and enjoy local meals and hot spring cures.

By the way, most of the previous train designs for JR Kyushu has been handled by Dawn Design Institute (headquarters: Itabashi City, Tokyo) led by designer Eiji Mitooka. He made the interior and exterior design of the world-famous cruise train “SEVEN STARS IN KYUSHU”, following by the N700S “KAMOME” on the Nishikyushu Shinkansen, and the D&S train “FUTATSUBOSHI 4047” that tours both Saga and Nagasaki prefectures.

I would like to pay attention to the follow-up report on what kind of changes will occur in D&S trains by moving away from the symbolic element of JR Kyushu trains, the “Mitooka Design”, and changing direction to collaboration with local companies in Kyushu. At this stage, details such as the new train name and rolling stocks design are undecided, and the future operation system of the existing D&S trains has not been announced.

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