Sonic is an express train operated by Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) between Hakata Station and Nakatsu, Oita, and Saiki Stations via Kagoshima Main Line and Nippo Main Line.
The name “Sonic” is derived from the nickname “sonic” (meaning “sonic speed” in English) of the 883 series trains.
Fast sonic and slow sonic
There are two major patterns of limited express Sonic trains.
They are “fast Sonic” and “slow Sonic.
It is not a question of speed, but of whether the train stops at more or fewer stations.
The fast Sonic stops at only eight stations: Oita, Beppu, Nakatsu, Gyobashi, Kokura, Kurosaki, Orio, and Hakata.
By the way, the slow Sonic trains stop at 15 stations: Oita, Beppu, Kamegawa, Kitsuki, Usa, Yanagigaura, Nakatsu, Ujima, Gyobashi, Kokura, Tobata, Kurosaki, Orio, Kashii, and Hakata.
Sonic’s speed is in the “pendulum method”.
The route from Hakata to Oita, where the limited express Sonic runs, has many curves as it winds through the mountains and along the coastline.
For this reason, the Sonic is a “controlled pendulum type car.
Simply put, it is designed to reduce the centrifugal force applied when going around a curve, so that the train can run at a constant speed.
By the way, the ride quality of Sonic is not good.
It runs at a maximum speed of 130 km/h and tilts greatly to the left and right, so it shakes a lot.
I have ridden Sonic many times, so I am used to it, but the first time I rode it, I was a little scared.
If you want to save money on Sonic, make a reservation online.
If you want to save money on the Sonic between Hakata and Oita, JR Kyushu’s online reservation is recommended.
If you use “Kyushu Net Early Special 3”, the fare between Hakata and Oita is 2,550 yen for a reserved seat.
The regular fare is 5,680 yen, so it is by far the cheapest!
The conditions are that you must register as a member of JR Kyushu and make a reservation at least 3 days in advance.
The Green Car also costs only 4,050 yen, so use the online reservation to save money on the Sonic!