Special Rapid Service operated by JR West 223 series.

JR Special Rapid Service, most useful train among Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji.

Many passengers are waiting for Special Rapid Service in Osaka station. Special Rapid is very popular for both commuters and the travelers.

Special Rapid Service is the fastest local train that is operated between Tsuruga (=敦賀) and Kamigori (=上郡) via Kyoto (=京都), Shin-Osaka (=新大阪), Osaka (=大阪), Sannomiya (=三ノ宮), Kobe (=神戸) and Himeji (=姫路). Especially JR West compete with Hankyu (=阪急) and Keihan (=京阪) between Kyoto and Osaka, with Hankyu and Hanshin (=阪神) between Osaka and Kobe. So JR West have to offer fast and good quality of services. As a result, the time required by this train is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kyoto. Since Shinkansen do not have a station in downtown Kobe, this trains is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kobe too. Of course this train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.

Route, schedule and travel time

Special Rapid Service runs the route and stop at these stations in the map below:

Operation route map (Click to view large)

In day time, Special Rapid Service train runs every 15 minutes between Yasu and Himeji. Some of this train services are extended service to Mabara, Nagahama, Tsuruga to east, and Banshu-Ako, Aboshi and Kamigori to west.

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Hotels in Kobe
Hotels in Himeji

When you move between Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Himeji, this train service is a primary choice. If you take Shinkansen from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka, it takes only 13 minutes. It seems to be much faster than Shin-Osaka. But you have to change trains at Shin-Osaka if you go to somewhere in Osaka. You have to spend 10 more minutes to transfer at Shin-Osaka. Unless your destination is Shin-Osaka, Special Rapid is more convenient.

If you go to Kobe, it takes 15 minutes by Shinkansen. But Shin-Kobe station on Shinkansen is not located in downtown. You need to take subway to Sannomiya.

Shin-Kobe station guide

Even in case of going to Himeji, it may be very close. It takes 30 minutes by Shinkansen and takes 1 hour by Special Rapid. But if you take Shinkansen, you must get Shin-Osaka first. And Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Himeji does not run very frequently. It depends on your schedule in this case. If Shinkansen’s timetable fits in your schedule, take Shinkansen. Otherwise take Special Rapid Service.


Special Rapid Service is operated by 223 or 225 series. 225 is newer but the seat layout and the interior are same.


Seat layout
The washroom is equipped in this train set.
Information screen is equipped and it is shown in a few languages.
These above photos are empty but this photo is the real shot. This is not the peak time. It is a daytime scene. But this train is very busy even other than the peak hours

244 thoughts on “JR Special Rapid Service, most useful train among Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji.”

  1. Hello Takeshi San,

    I wanted to find out if it is worth getting the 14 day JR Pass?

    We will be flying in to Haneda and travelling to Tokyo(3nights), Hakone (2nights), Kyoto(4nights), Osaka (4nights), and back to Tokyo (3nights).

    I am going to get the Hakone 2days pass. But I am wanting to find out for Tokyo does the JR pass covers metro stations or is it advisable to get the local train ticket? Also, will I have to get an independent train ticket for local Metro stations for Osaka too?

    Thank you very much for all your help.

    Kind regards

    1. Hi Charmian san,

      14-days JR pass is too expensive for your trip. Because 7-day pass price is almost same as the round trip fare between Tokyo and Osaka. You cannot get the worth of 14-day pass at this point. If you add one long day trip, you can get the worth. Please see a few samples in the links below:

      If you don’t want to add this kind of a big day trip, you have to use a regular fare ticket for city to city and add a local deal, such as Hakone Free Pass, subway pass in each locations.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi San,

        Thank you very much for your reply and advice! I kinda forgot about the plan to do a day trip to Hiroshima/ Miyajima. Is it better to do the day trip out from Kyoto or Osaka?

        We have plans to do day trip to Kobe, Nara, Hiroshima.

        We have 4nights in both Kyoto and Osaka. If we do the big day trip as suggested, the14 day JR pass should be worth it?

        Thank you again Takeshi San!

        Kind regards

          1. Hi Takeshi san

            Thank you!

            By the way, travelling locally around Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, would the JR pass cover it or would I need to get a local train ticket in each area? I have been advised for Osaka I will need to get a local metro ticket?

            Thank you again for all your help!

            Kind regards

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