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.

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.

Accommodation

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

Images

Interior
Seat layout
The washroom is equipped in this train set.
Information screen is equipped and it is shown in a few languages.

In these above photos, the train is empty. But please see the photo below. This is the real shot. This is not the morning and evening peak times. It is a daytime scene. But this train is very busy even other than the peak hours.

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

  1. Hi,
    Which pass is best if this is our planned itinerary:
    Day 1 – Kansai Airport to Midosuji
    Day 2 – Rinku Premium Outlet
    Day 3 – Midosuji to Himeji to Kobe back to Midosuji
    Day 4 – Namba and Umeda/Kita
    Day 5 – Midosuji to Kansai Airport

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Lean,

      You may use Rapi:t Webtoku ticket for Kansai to/from Osaka. You metioned Midosuji. There are several stations on Midosuji. But you can get Namba by the limited express Rapi:t. You can reserve your seat. You may have to take Osaka metro to get your place. But it’s subway. You cannot book a seat.
      https://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/webtoku.html

      For the trip to Rinku, you may use the following deal on the way:
      https://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/rinkuPOST.html
      So you can get Namba-Rinkutown-Kansai airport. But this ticket does not included a reserved seat fee. You have to add 520 yen to take the limited express Rapi:t. I understand you don’t need to go to Kansai but if you get Kansai, you can use Rapi:t Webtoku Ticekt again from Kansai to Namba by the limited express Rapi:t. Actually this is cheaper than buying a regular ticket for Namba to Rinkutown return.

      For the trip to Himeji, you have to take the Shinkansen to get a reserved seat. But there is no deals available. You must buy a regular ticket. Please find the fare and the route at hyperdia:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      Please read the following post how to buy a ticket and the access route to Himeji and Kobe:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/how-to-reserve-seat.html
      https://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/how-to-access-to-himeji-and-kobe-from-osaka.html

      Special Rapid is a commute train. You cannot reserve a seat.

      You will take subway so you cannot reserve a seat. Please find the deal in the link below for sightseeing in Osaka:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. My family of 4 persons want to travel from Osaka to Kyoto for 1 day trip.
    1) Can I purchase Shinkansen ticket online?
    2) is there a need for advance purchase of the Shinkansen ticket?
    3) is there a need to purchase in advance for JR Kyoto Special Rapid Line from Kyoto to Osaka and can I purchase online?

    Thanks,
    Daniel

    1. Hi Daniel,

      You don’t need to purchase a ticket for Shin-Osaka to Kyoto online and even in advance. If you really want to do it, you may do it. But I don’t think you need to do. There are lots of trains running. You may buy it at Shin-Osaka station.

      Special rapid is a sort of the commute train. Just buy a ticket at the vending machine in Kyoto station. You cannot buy a ticket in advance anyway.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. HI, mr._Takeshi! Think you have a great web-portal,_which you can develop in the future. Need to travel from LHASA to KIYOMITZUDERATEMPLE(KYOTO). What train is the best for us (have 3heave luggidies plus bicycle plus scooter)? Meant the train startpoint is TOKIO?

  3. Hi Shinji,

    I was wondering what JR lines/ services am I able to travel on using the iccoca card.
    Because I was looking at my trip from Namba station to Fushimi-Inari shrine and the Japan transit app recommended to take the “JR kyoto line Special Rapid (For Yasu)”. Is this service covered by the iccoca card?

  4. Hi, thanks for a great website. I want to travel on Special Rapid train from Kyoto to Osaka and we have one elderly and one small suitcase with us. Do you think there will be space to put a small suitcase and since Kyoto is not the first stop, does it usually get very crowded boarding the train from Kyoto? Thank you!

    1. Hi Nancy,

      This train is always busy, like the photo at the end of the post. But many passengers get off the train. You may be able to find the seat.
      There is no luggage space but you may able to put it at the overhead luggage space. Otherwise you have to put it on the floor between your legs.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you Takeshi! After giving it some thoughts, I may want to take Shinkansen to Shin Osaka and then taxi to our hotel in Namba. My dad can’t stand on a crowded moving train for too long so I don’t want to risk it. Thanks again!

  5. will be taking the train for the short trip from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. will be bringing 2 big luggages plus a foldable baby pram. is there space in the cabin for luggages?

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