Western media tends to have a fixation about Japan that means most news stories are of the weird and wacky variety.
Sadly sometimes it is true....
Railways hope 'maids' attract riders.
(paraphrased from) THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2010/03/15
MITO--Two Ibaraki Prefecture train lines will offer a special service next weekend: maids. Hitachinaka Seaside Railway Co. and Kashima Rinkai Tetsudo Co. will employ six young women in "cosplay" outfits--blue miniskirts and white aprons--to serve refreshments to passengers on Sunday and Monday.
The "Maid Trains" are based on maid cafes which are popular in Tokyo's Akihabara district. The two railways who are struggling to to increase passenger numbers, hope the urban "Maid Kissa" (maid coffee shops) phenomenon can help turn things around. The six young women currently work in Akihabara and other areas as cafe maids.
One of the maids, "Amakusa Chuchu", in the language Akihabara maid cafes has been promoting the train service. "Masters and younger ladies who are not regular customers in Akihabara, I'm looking forward to seeing you."