JR East will introduce a new limited express service on the Tokaido Main Line this spring which will be called the Limited Express Shonan. The new service will run between stations at Shinjuku/Tokyo and Odawara. This train will replace the current Shonan Liner, Ohayo Liner Shinjuku, and Home Liner Odawara services. Although this is a commuter train service it may well be useful for sightseers, because Odawara is the location of a popular castle and hot spring resort and is also the gateway to the Hakone and Izu hot spring regions.
The exterior of the Limited Express Shonan is decorated with a blue stripe that represents the sea and sky. This color, termed “peninsula blue” after the Izu peninsula, is also used for the interior seating. The picture above shows Green Car (1st class) seating in the left inset image, and ordinary seating in the central inset image.
The new Shonan limited express service uses modified E257 series trains in either a 9-car or 14-car formation. These trains are fitted with luggage storage spaces in cars 1, 9, 10, and 14. There are also power outlets by all the window seats (but not by aisle seats). There will be one Green Car (1st class) and designated seating in all the ordinary cars. Each seat’s vacancy status will be shown by colored lights above the seats. A red light means the seat is currently free, a yellow light means the seat will be occupied from the next station, and a green light means the seat is reserved.
There will be no non-reserved cars on the Limited Express Shonan. Passengers will have a choice between buying reserved seat tickets or unreserved tickets. If you buy a reserved seat ticket, then you have to decide on the exact train you are going to board in advance. However, if you are unsure of when you can take the service you can book an unreserved ticket which can be used to board any Limited Express Shonan service. While reserved seat tickets will guarantee you a specified seat on the train, if you have an unreserved ticket you should only sit in seats that have a red lamp above them, showing that they are currently free.
The Limited Express Shonan is a weekday commuter service and will not run on weekends and holidays. There will be nine services running from Odawara between 6.20 and 8.19 each weekday morning with six services running to Tokyo Station and three to Shinjuku Station. There will also be one early morning service from Hiratsuka to Tokyo. Evening services will make the return journey to Odawara between 18.00 and 23.00, with nine services running from Tokyo Station and two from Shinjuku. Between Tokyo Station and Odawara the train takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes, and between Shinjuku Station and Odawara it takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The new Limited Express Shonan is scheduled to begin operations on March 15th 2021. For full details of timetables and ticket fares please visit the official JR East webpage (Japanese only) at: https://www.jreast.co.jp/ltd_exp/tokaido/
Article by Michael Lambe. Images courtesy of JR East. All rights reserved.