If you read this blog in the past at all, you'll know this panda loves me some trains.
And today, I'm super excited to get to talk about this BEAUTIFUL TRAIN with you!!
I've been following this train for awhile, and even though I couldn't get tickets to go on (it's completely through lottery only), I really wanted to see it! So this Saturday, I woke up bright and early to catch the departure of the West Express Ginga from Osaka station, to Shimonoseki (Yamaguchi prefecture).
This is the new, family-friendly luxury fleet of trains in the JR West lines. The train's debut early this year (before everything went to shit due to our favourite pandemic) was meant to connect the metropolis of Osaka and stimulate tourism in the Sa'nin region (Tottori, Matsue & Yamaguchi).
I assume that the West Express Ginga was made to substitute the Sunrise Izumo Sleeper Train from Tokyo, as it doesn't stop in Osaka station on the way to Izumo in Matsue (it does stop in Osaka on the way to Tokyo though!).
The train itself also pays homage to an early Sleeper Train fleet called GINGA, which ran its lifespan along various Tokaido routes until 2008. As you will see in the photos later, there is a second Sleeper Train it pays homage to - the Myojo. The Myojo sleeper ran between Osaka and Kumamoto until the late 80s, until it was "downgraded" into passengers and eventually taken out of the service in 1990. It was in service for a good 30 or so odd years.
The West Express Ginga also has sleeper units - cars 2, 5 and 6. Cars 2 and 5 are private bunkers that sleeps 4 people - which is what makes this train supposedly more "family-friendly". Compared to the actual luxury Sleeper between Kansai-Sa'nin, the Twilight Express Mizukaze (this train makes the Ginga look like a peasant... sorry) gears more towards couples look for an travel experience. Much like the Nanatsuboshi and the 36+3 in Kyushu, which I briefly talked about in my other blog post on trains.
Car 6 are private single sleepers. They looked pretty nice and spacious!
If you haven't guessed, Suisei was also once a Sleeper Train that ran its course in the nation. This train is full of amazing references to past trains!
The last car is the lounge car, the Yuusei, which I am ashamed to say... I'm not sure what the reference is here. If other train nerds can jump in and educate me, it would be most welcomed!!
But otherwise, that's the whole train.
Unfortunately they only allowed ticket holders to enter the train (which makes sense for many reasons - COVID19 and all), so all my phone pictures are very glary. But I hope you enjoyed them as much as me! If you're living between Yamaguchi or Osaka, this train will be stopping along the way from now until March 2021 - so you can also catch a glimpse of this train too!
Here's a really bad, calming video I tried to edit to show the train a bit more.
(please be kind - I'm trying to relearn video editing again)