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'Lavender train' to begin purple reign in Hokkaido from May

The lavender train, left, which will debut in May, and the hamanasu train are seen in Sapporo's Higashi Ward on March 29, 2021. (Mainichi/Nozomi Genma)

SAPPORO -- The new bright purple sightseeing "lavender train," which will operate across the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido in sightseeing services and on other routes, will make its debut in May.

    Hokkaido Railway Co. (JR Hokkaido) revealed the new train to media on March 29. It is the same model as the "hamanasu (beach rose) train," a different-colored train which began services last October.

    In Japan, Hokkaido is synonymous with lavender. The new train consists of five cars, just like its pink-colored twin. Its first car has compartments containing two facing seats with a table between them, and all passenger cars have power outlets and Wi-Fi.

    The Hokkaido Prefectural Government and the national government paid about 1 billion yen (some $9 million) to purchase each car of the train, which they are leasing to JR Hokkaido for free. It will debut on May 8 as a special "Hokkaido Love! Furano" train making a round trip between the prefectural capital Sapporo and the resort city of Furano, traveling on lines including the Furano Line.

    After mid-May, it will operate as an express train to Abashiri, Kushiro and Hakodate on Saturdays and Sundays, and will also run on lines including the Nemuro Line as the "Furano Lavender Express" between June 19 and Sept. 20.

    (Japanese original by Nozomi Genma, Hokkaido News Department)

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