Japan Is Building a Near-Invisible Commuter Train Set to Roll out in 2018

April 15, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

Seibu Railway Company invisible train
Photo credit: Courtesy of Seibu Railway Company

It’s a train straight out of The Hunger Games. Only now, it could become a reality sooner than we thought.

An award-winning Japanese architect, Kazuyo Seijima, has designed a commuter train that could blend into the surrounding landscape, making it practically invisible to onlookers. The chameleonic train will make use of super-reflecting materials, which will allow the train to camouflage itself in both urban and rural settings.

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Seijima was commissioned to design the train for Seibu Railway Company, which already has commuter trains in operation around Tokyo. The latest chameleonic train will be part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebrations and is scheduled to hit the rail tracks in 2018.

‘"The limited express travels in a variety of different sceneries, from the mountains of Chichibu to the middle of Tokyo, and I thought it would be good if the train could gently co-exist with this variety of scenery.” Sejima said in Seibu’s official press release:

"I also would like it to be a limited express where large numbers of people can all relax in comfort, in their own way, like a living room, so that they think to themselves 'I look forward to riding that train again.’”


Japan has long been known for emphasizing design and trying to blend it in with nature. Now, they have finally brought that approach to the railway system.

Seibu Railway Co still has issues to consider regarding the latest chameleonic train. Blending into the environment might make for a futuristic train that’s invisible to onlookers, but emissions, sound pollution and railway construction will still be considerable problems the company will have to deal with before they can be at complete harmony with nature. For now, let’s just hope that, if invisible trains become a reality, everyone will know where the tracks are.

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