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Ailing Hokkaido Railway to run tours with luxury Tokyu train in 2020

The Royal Express, a luxury train operated by Tokyu Corp., is seen in this photo provided by Tokyu Corp.

SAPPORO -- Financially ailing Hokkaido Railway Co. (JR Hokkaido) will operate a luxury train owned by Tokyo-based railway operator Tokyu Corp. next year in a bid to spark demand for tourism and boost passenger numbers, company officials said.

JR Hokkaido is planning several runs of The Royal Express luxury train in August 2020, with each excursion lasting four days. In each tour, The Royal Express will start from Sapporo and take passengers into the Tokachi region in southern Hokkaido, known as a dairy farming region. Passengers will also travel to Shiretoko in the eastern part of the prefecture, which is designated as a World Heritage site; Asahikawa, where a popular zoo is located; and Furano, known for its lavender gardens before returning to the prefectural capital. Meals will be served on the trains.

Up to about 30 people can participate in each tour. JR Hokkaido plans to begin accepting reservations in February 2020, but has not yet fixed the price of the tour.

Debt-ridden JR Hokkaido has had trouble renewing its aging excursion trains. By joining hands with Tokyu Corp., the Sapporo-based railway operator aims to offer attractive tours by taking advantage of Hokkaido's popular tourist resources.

(Japanese original by Kohei Shinkai, Hokkaido News Department)

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