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JR West's new sightseeing train debuts after months-long delay due to coronavirus

The "West Express Ginga" train is seen arriving at JR Izumoshi Station in Shimane Prefecture, on the morning of Sept. 12, 2020. (Mainichi/Aoi Maeda)
The "West Express Ginga" train is seen arriving at JR Yonago Station in Shimane Prefecture, on the morning of Sept. 12, 2020. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Shibasaki)

YONAGO, Tottori -- The long-awaited first run of West Japan Railway Co.'s new long-distance sightseeing train "West Express Ginga" was welcomed by excited train enthusiasts at every stop along its route from Kyoto to Tottori Prefecture in the country's west.

    Welcome ceremonies were held at JR Yonago Station in Tottori Prefecture and Izumoshi Station in neighboring Shimane Prefecture on the morning of Sept. 12 for the first Ginga ("galaxy" in Japanese) service, which had left JR Kyoto Station the previous night. The express train was originally scheduled to take its debut voyage in May, but this was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    The new train arrived at Yonago Station at 7:46 a.m. Tour pamphlets and other items were given to the passengers, while rail fans crowded the platform to see the train painted a deep navy-blue inspired by the area's beautiful ocean and sky. At Izumoshi Station, passengers were seen taking photos of the train after they got off.

    Hirokazu Yoshida, a 58-year-old resident of Kyoto's Fushimi Ward who was on board with his daughter, commented, "I had a relaxing night on the train. It was comfortable. There are many spots to see in the Sanin area (western Japan along the Sea of Japan), and I'm looking forward to doing some sightseeing."

    Up until the end of November, 20 inbound and another 20 outbound services are available on Ginga as a sleeper train on the Sanin route from Kyoto to Izumoshi stations, as well as from Izumoshi to Osaka stations. Starting in December through March 2021, it will run as a special express train between Osaka and Shimonoseki stations during the day.

    (Japanese original by Tatsuya Shibasaki, Yonago Local Bureau)

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