Photo/IllutrationRacks for hanging bikes are fitted on the back of passenger seats in the B.B. Base train that was introduced at Ryogoku Station in Tokyo on Dec. 4. (Daiki Koga)

  • Photo/Illustraion

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) will run a special weekend train from Tokyo to Chiba Prefecture that cyclists can use without the annoying task of taking apart their bicycles and fitting them into bags.

From Jan. 6, the cyclist-dedicated train named B.B. Base will depart from Ryogoku Station and head east to destinations around the Boso Peninsula, which makes up most of Chiba Prefecture.

Return trip packages through the end of March are already on sale.

The six-car train is fitted with dedicated racks on which bicycles can be suspended. The train can carry up to 99 passengers with their bicycles.

Normally, bicycles are not permitted on JR East trains unless the wheels are removed and the contents placed in bags called “rinkobukuro” to avoid injuring other passengers or staining them with grease.

“Chiba Prefecture has many cyclists because the roads are generally flat and the climate is mild,” said Naonori Kyoden, the sales department manager of JR East’s Chiba branch. “We hope to have many people onboard (the B.B. Base) to increase visitor numbers to the prefecture.”

The Chiba branch has been co-sponsoring a number of cycling and triathlon competitions around the peninsula, and it is hoping the train will bring in more participants.

The initials of B.B. stand for Boso Bicycle, and Base suggests the train will function like a hub for cyclists before they disembark and hit the road.

Based on the idea of a “base,” the cars are painted in industrial colors, including gray and silver.

Ryogoku Station in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward was selected as the starting point for the special train because the platform has wheel-friendly slopes.

JR East is offering one-day return trip packages in the B.B. Base train to different parts of the prefecture, using the Narita Line, which reaches the easternmost city of Choshi, the Uchibo Line along Tokyo Bay or the Sotobo Line along the Pacific coast.

Other tour packages include hotel stays at different destinations.