Photo/Illutration“Premium” cars of the new limited express train Hinotori are shown to the media on Nov. 19 in Yao, Osaka Prefecture. (Tatsuo Kanai)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

YAO, Osaka Prefecture--Kintetsu Railway Co. completed its new Hinotori (phoenix) limited express train with unintrusive reclining seats that it hopes will draw passengers away from bullet trains.

The company says its new train model connecting Osaka and Nagoya is cheaper and more comfortable to ride than Shinkansen.

The new train, which was shown to the media on Nov. 19, will start operations on March 14.

All seats on the train can recline at a large angle without cramping the space of the person sitting behind, the company said.

Kintetsu Railway named the train Hinotori in hopes that it will “fly high like a phoenix” as a symbol of the company.

The new trains will replace the Urban Liner limited express trains, which have been a popular means of transportation between Osaka and Nagoya since 1988. The company will start the replacement ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and complete it by the end of fiscal 2020, well before Osaka hosts the World Expo in 2025.

The exterior of the new train will have a base color of red as well as a distinct streamlined form.

But one of the biggest selling points is found in the interior, namely the “back shell type” seats.

The same seats are used in Gran Class (first-class) cars on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line. The Hinotori trains will be the first in Japan to adopt that style for all seats.

Kintetsu Railway conducted a survey on about 20,000 people, including passengers of limited express trains, before drawing up the design of the new train.

Many of the respondents said they couldn’t recline their seats because they were worried about inconveniencing the people behind them.

“We wanted to build train cars in which people don’t need to ask permission from the person sitting behind them when reclining a seat,” said Tomoki Okano, the company’s manager in charge of train designs.

The new train has one of the widest “pitches,” the space between a seat and the one in front, in Japan.

The pitch for the train’s “regular” cars, which have four seats per row, is 116 centimeters, the same length as that for premium seat cars of the N700A, the main bullet train used on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

The pitch for the Hinotori train’s “premium” cars, which have three seats per row, is even wider, at 130 cm.

The new train will connect Osaka-Namba and Kintetsu-Nagoya stations in about two hours and five minutes.

A premium car seat will cost 5,240 yen ($48.30), including limited express fare, while the fee for a regular car seat will be 4,540 yen.

Kintetsu Railway plans to start selling limited express and other tickets of the new train on Feb. 14.