Rail News


November 23 , 2021

Japan offers 'office cars' on bullet trains for people to work

New Straits Times 
November 23, 2021 (Japan)

JAPAN has started offering "office cars" to allow people to work onboard some of its bullet trains that connects the capital Tokyo and the country's northern and central parts.

Officials said this was to meet growing demand for a new work style amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a Kyodo News report, East Japan Railway Co. launched the service on its shinkansen bullet trains on Monday and its available on weekdays only for free of charge.

The service is available on one of the coaches in the Tohoku, Joetsu, and Hokuriku lines.

Passengers will be able to talk on the phone and participate in online meetings from their seats - activities that are discouraged on the rest of the train.

Passengers will also be able to borrow "smart glasses" that project the content of their laptop screens before their eyes.

On bullet trains on the Tohoku line, they will also be able to use free of charge small dividers to put around their seat tables, with a similar measure being considered for the Hokuriku and Joetsu lines.

Kyodo said the remote work spaces onboard the shinkasen are also available on a different railway operator's shinkansen line in Hokkaido, which connects directly to the Tohoku line.

JR East hopes the new service will help people go on "workation" trips in which they combine working online with travel.

Central Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co. have also been testing similar onboard work spaces since October on the Nozomi super express trains on Sanyo Shinkansen and Tokaido Shinkansen lines that run through the major Japanese cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka.

Meanwhile in another development, Kyodo reports that children will be allowed to ride bullet trains that run through most of Japan's biggest cities for free as part of a campaign to revive domestic tourism.

The campaign until Dec 19 will cover Nozomi super express services that stop at major stations including Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Hakata, Central Japan Railway and West Japan Railway said.

Child passengers must be between six and 11 years old and accompanied by an adult, with up to five children able to travel for free per adult passenger.

It will be the first such campaign by the two major railway operators, which in March will mark the 30th anniversary of the launch of Nozomi services.

Following a recent sharp decline in coronavirus infections in Japan, the government is aiming to stimulate domestic travel demand by restarting the "Go To Travel" subsidy programme around February.

The programme was suspended in December last year due to the spread of the virus.


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