Trains are an important mode of public transportation in Japan. It is no wonder that new trains are always introduced to service more people and places. However, have you ever wondered what happens to trains that are no longer in service? Retired sleeper trains return to the frontlines as lodging facilities! Let’s find out where they are!
In the heart of Tokyo is an accommodation that brings a train back to life. Train Hostel HOKUTOSEI is conveniently located just beside JR Bakurocho Station. Opened in December 2016, the hostel revived sleeper train Hokutosei by using its interiors such as its bunk beds, seats, curtains, and even ladders.
The Hokutosei Limited Express was operated by JR East and JR Hokkaido as it ran between Ueno Station and Sapporo Station. The train first began its operations in 1988 and was discontinued in 2015.
An overnight stay at a bunk bed in a female dormitory is priced at 2,400 yen, while a bunk bed in a mixed dormitory is priced at 2,300 yen. Amenities such as towels and slippers are charged separately. A shared lounge and kitchen named “Grand Chariot” was made to resemble Hokutosei’s dining car of the same name.
A strikingly blue train is parked within a few minutes’ walk from Taragi Station in Kumamoto. This popular choice of accommodation is Blue Train Taragi which is made from three cars of the retired Hayabusa Limited Express. Part of the Blue Train series, Hayabusa was a sleeper train operated by JR Kyushu that ran from Tokyo to Kagoshima. It began operations in 1958 and was discontinued in 2009 due to the continuous decline in the number of riders.
Blue Train Taragi opened in July 2010. The accommodation fee is very affordable with a price of 3,080 yen per night for an adult and 2,050 yen for children above three years old. Price is inclusive of tax as well as entrance to the nearby Ebisu no Yu bathing facility that has hot springs, pools, and a sauna. Children below three years old are free of charge since they will be sleeping together with a paying adult.
You can find another Blue Train parked inside the Kosaka Railroad Rail Park in Akita. Its true identity is the Akebono Limited Express operated by JR East which ran from Tokyo to Aomori. The train started operations in 1970 and was discontinued in 2014.
Blue Train Akebono opened in 2015 and there are two room options at this lodging facility. The A-style room can accommodate up to two persons. An overnight stay costs 4,320 yen for adults with an additional fee of 1,080 yen for the second person. For children, accommodation fee per night is 3,240 yen with an additional fee of 810 yen for the second person. On the other hand, the B-style room can only accommodate one person with a choice between lower and upper bunk beds. An overnight stay is 3,240 yen for adults and 2,160 yen for children.
Spend a night at any of these train lodging facilities. It is a wonderful thought that these revived sleeper trains continue to give comfort to people even when they are no longer running on the tracks for long-distance travel.