Hello Kitty-themed express train made first round trip between Taipei and Taitung
TRA, Eva Air and Sanrio Taiwan collaborated on train to promote tourism
Regular trips will start running on April 21 from Fridays to Sundays
Adorable icon's cool rating apparently nowhere near exhausted
The world’s most nimble spokeskitty has struck again. This time in Taiwan.
That’s where a high-speed train painted in the colors of Hello Kitty made its maiden round trip in March 2016 between the cities of Taipei and Taitung.
About 200 fans of the mouthless icon – which, OK, technically means it’s not a “spokes” anything – won tickets to grin deliriously during the four-hour trip between the island’s north and southeast. Or so we presume that was the prevailing mood on a train that bombards the senses with adorable Kitty cult messaging.
Painted over the train’s exterior, the famed cat-not-cat also dominates the interior, appearing on walls, headrest covers, serving carts, meal boxes and, we imagine, an array of clothing items worn by giddy riders.
So giddy that passengers actually stole more than 300 of the headrest covers following the inaugural ride, according to a report in the Taipei Times.
The train – a collaboration between the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), Eva Air and Sanrio Taiwan – is designed to attract international visitors.
“The design concept behind this train is ‘Travel around the world with Hello Kitty,’” a TRA representative told CNN, making cutesy and globalism the way forward for the 129-year-old government agency.
The train’s eight cars are painted to reflect different travel scenes: Taipei, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, North and South America, and the North and South Poles. The final car shows the counties of Hualien and Taitung on Taiwan’s eastern coast.
Japanese cartoon company Sanrio designed a special Kitty character, clad in a captain’s hat and uniform, to serve as train master.
The 376-seat train will run again between Taipei and Taitung on March 25, and between Taipei and Hualien on March 27, to mark the 90th anniversary of the Hualien-Taitung line’s opening.
Starting April 21, 2016, it’s scheduled to run between Taipei’s Shulin Station and Taitung’s Zhiben Station periodically on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Global Kitty domination
Japanese firm Sanrio launched Hello Kitty in 1974, placing every pre-adolescent girl’s favorite anthropomorphic mascot somewhere between James Bond, Willie Nelson, Jackie Chan and Kate Moss on the list of global icons that somehow never stop being cool.
More than four decades later, analysts estimate the mute-yet-beloved creature accounts for roughly 75% of Sanrio’s $142 million annual operating profit, and rakes in most of the $600 million in company revenue each year.
Attracting Kitty-philes around the world and especially in Asia, the Hello Kitty image has been licensed to appear on everything from dumplings to toasters to beer pong tables to airplanes. And, no doubt coming soon, something else we haven’t even thought of yet.