The Red List of Trains in Japan

JNR 24 series

Sleeper Limited Express Akebono at Aomori

Data (as of 29 Jul 2023)

Status:  Extinct 
Constructed in: 1973-80, 1989
Number built: 597*
Retired in: 2016

*Including 61 coaches converted from 14 series and 485 series.


The 24 series was a type of limited express coach for sleeper train developed by Japanese National Railways. At that time, JNR had been introducing 14 series to sleeper limited express trains, but it was suspended after a major fire incident on Hokuriku Line (Hokuriku Tunnel fire in 1972, killing 30 people). Though the 14 series was not involved in the incident, JNR suspended introducing it for years. Instead, JNR developed the 24 series, which was safer but less flexible than the 14 series, as described below.

Accommodation of the 24 series was based on that of the 14 series. However, power supply of the 24 series was dependent on a specific power car, while the 14 series has a generator beneath the floor. Thus, a 24 series train could not be divided into two unless there were two power cars, but JNR considered it safer in case of emergency and less costly than the 14 series.

The 24 series was first introduced to Limited Express Akatsuki (Shin-Osaka - Nishi-Kagoshima) and Suisei (Shin-Osaka - Oita), and then expanded to various trains across the country, mainly those between Tokyo or Osaka and Kyushu region as well as those between Tokyo and Tohoku region. Later, some coaches were converted to be able to join to 12 series and 14 series coaches. In addition, some 14 series coaches were converted to the 24 series, and several dining cars of 485 series EMU were also incorporated to the 24 series.

When JNR was privatised in 1987, JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR West and JR Kyushu took the coaches over. JR East introduced three more coaches called YumeKukan (literally "space of dream") with luxurious accommodation, and used on Limited Express Hokutosei (Ueno - Sapporo) and rail tours. Night trains in Japan have already been declining at that time, but these JR companies refurbished the 24 series. Many 24 series coaches were withdrawn by the 2000s as most night trains were discontinued, but small number of coaches remained until the mid-2010s. The last regular service provided by the 24 series was Express Hamanasu (Aomori - Sapporo), which was discontinued in 2016.

A few 24 series coaches were exported to Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. The government of Democratic Republic of the Congo also had a plan to reuse some of them, but it has been cancelled.

(Updated: 29 Jul 2023)

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