Seats and toilets will be renewed like a new car – JR Shikoku’s 30-year-old express EMU

JR Shikoku has begun refurbishing the 8000 series limited express trains operated by the Yosan Line limited express trains “Shiokaze” and “Ishizuchi”, and will implement changes such as design and seat renewal, enhancing barrier-free access, and westernization of toilets.

JR Shikoku 8000 series EMU operated as the Yosan Line limited express "Shiokaze" and "Ishizuchi" (ninochan555/PhotoAC)
JR Shikoku 8000 series EMU operated as the Yosan Line limited express “Shiokaze” and “Ishizuchi” (ninochan555/PhotoAC)

Exterior design changes from “vertical” to “horizontal”

The 8000 series is their first limited express train developed in conjunction with the electrification of the Yosan Line, and the first train unit began operation in 1992. In 2004, interior and exterior renovation work was also carried out, but the second large-scale renovation will be implemented after 30 years since its appearance. In order to ensure safe and stable transportation, aging electronic equipment will be updated, and the design and passenger room facilities will also be greatly improved.

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The exterior design of the current 8000 series is characterized by vertical lines with gradation on the side doors, and the color scheme differs depending on the seat type, such as Green Cars and reserved seats. After the second renewal, the design will be changed to a horizontal tone with an orange line flowing from the top of the streamlined shape so that you can “feel a sense of speed and smartness like a limited express.”

It is a further evolution of the train concept “Seto Breeze” at the time of its introduction, and the effect of highlighting the long 8-car formation is likely to change the impression greatly. Orange is a color reminiscent of the warm climate of Setouchi and the citrus fruits of Ehime, and a green belt inspired by olives from Kagawa is added as an accent under the window.

This coloring is the same as the 8600 series trains that debuted in 2014, which are also used by “Shiokaze” and “Ishizuchi”. By matching the color design, it is clarified that it is a limited express train heading from Okayama/Takamatsu to Matsuyama.

(See the chart below for details such as the interior and exterior design, wheelchair-free space and seat layout of the 8000 series renewal train.)

[Chart] The interior and exterior design, wheelchair-free space and seat layout of the 8000 series renewal train.

JR Shikoku’s first “free space for wheelchairs”

To ensure that the 8000 series can be used comfortably in the future, the passenger rooms will be equipped with facilities that are comparable to those of the new rolling stocks. The interior uses LED indirect lighting, illuminating not only the ceiling but also the overhead luggage rack surface, giving the entire interior a bright and open feel.

The seats will also be completely replaced, and the Green Seats will evolve into high-grade seats equipped with electric reclining system, footrests and reading lights. The moquette design of the seats expresses the rich and calm nature along the railway line. The motifs for the green seats are “the rich blessings of Shikoku,” while for the reserved and non-reserved seats are “citrus fruits” and “the Seto Inland Sea.”

In addition, for the first time on the 8000 series, power outlets are installed not only on all Green Seats and ordinary reserved seats, but also on each wall of non-reserved seats, improving convenience during travel.

For the first time in JR Shikoku, a “free space for wheelchairs” that can accommodate up to 3 wheelchairs will be set up in Car No. 5 so that wheelchair users can ride in groups. In addition, the Japanese-style toilets that remained in two places in the train unit will be improved and all will be unified into Western-style toilets.

The first renewal train will start operating in December 2023, with the 3-car formation (S unit) mainly used for the “Ishizuchi” from/to Takamatsu. The 5-car formation (L unit) for “Shiokaze” from/to Okayama is scheduled from August 2024. Two to three trainsets will be constructed each year in line with the entrance to the Tadotsu Factory during regular inspections, and the renewal work for all 8000 series trains is expected to be completed until March 2028.

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