Photo/Illutration The new Premium Car vehicle of the Keihan 3000-series train is shown to the media on Jan. 20 in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture. It is equipped with three independent seats in a row. (Tomoyuki Suzuki)

NEYAGAWA, Osaka Prefecture--Keihan Electric Railway Co. has started operation of the new reserved seating, fee-based Premium Car on limited express trains that offers passengers more social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The Premium Car, which started in service on Jan. 31 on limited express trains between Yodoyabashi Station in Osaka and Demachiyanagi Station in Kyoto, has three seats in a row in a two-plus-one arrangement.

"We can meet the needs of passengers who want to ride the train and avoid close contact with others," said Kinya Inoue, managing director of the railway company.

The new car was shown to the media at the Neyagawa garage here on Jan. 20.

The Premium Car was initially introduced in 2017, remodeled from one car of each of 10 8000-series limited express trains. The three independent seats in a row provide more space for passengers, with each seat equipped with a power outlet.

The company spent about 1.2 billion yen ($11.42 million) to produce six new Premium Cars for all the six 3000-series trains. The seats and windows are arranged so that passengers can enjoy the view from any seat, while some of the seats near the doors are equipped with heaters to improve comfort in cold weather. 

While the exterior of the Premium Cars for the 8000-series trains are painted in red, the new model for the 3000-series trains has a blue exterior. Both models are painted in gold at the door and its surrounding trim to offer a sense of luxury.

The Premium Cars can accommodate 40 passengers. In addition to the regular ticket, a premium fee of 400 to 500 yen is required.

Cashless ticketing machines are also installed on platforms to accept payments with IC cards and QR codes.