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Nozomi shinkansen bullet train abolishes low-priced unreserved tickets during peak travel seasons

7 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The quickness and convenience of Japan’s shinkansen bullet train network makes it most travelers’ preferred way to get around Japan. Soon, though, it looks like the shinkansen is going to get a little less convenient, and a bit more expensive too.

Shinkansen tickets are divided into two basic types: reserved seats and unreserved seats. Whereas reserved tickets are only good for a specified seat on a specific train, unreserved tickets allow you to sit in any unoccupied seat in an unreserved-seat car on a shinkansen train headed to your destination that day. That makes unreserved seats a nice option if you want greater flexibility in your departure time (maybe because you’re not sure how much sightseeing you’ll be doing in a town before leaving to go somewhere else), and they’re also less expensive than reserved seats.

However, Central Japan Railway Company, also known as JR Central or JR Tokai, says it will be abolishing unreserved seats on its fastest class of shinkansen train, the Nozomi, during peak travel seasons. JR Central manages the Tokaido shinkansen portion of the network, which runs from Tokyo to Osaka (and includes Kyoto), but this abolition of unreserved Nozomi seats will also apply to the Sanyo shinkansen section, which the Tokaido shinkansen trains flow into/out of between Osaka and Fukuoka. Currently, three cars of every Nozomi train is for unreserved seats.

JR Central says this policy change will take effect at the three busiest travel times of the year: the New Year’s, Golden Week (late-April/early-May), and Obon (early August) vacation periods. During those times, all Nozomi shinkansen cars will be reserved seat-only.

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Image: Pakutaso

The company says the new policy is a response to overcrowding of the unreserved-seat train cars during those peak periods. As the cars fill up, passengers with unreserved tickets who are unable to secure a seat end up waiting on the station platform in hopes of getting a seat on the next train, JR Central says, and the increased congestion is making the boarding/disembarking process for passengers take longer, leading to delays in the trains’ departures. Under the new reserved seats-only system for Nozomi shinkansen trains, the company says that not only will getting on and off the train go more smoothly “our customers will no longer need to wait for a long time [for a train with an empty seat].”

That last part sounds a little like JR Tokai’s previous attempt to spin into a positive its addition in 2019 of new rules requiring shinkansen passengers with suitcases to purchase reserved-seat tickets and make a luggage reservation. There are a few silver linings, though. The abolition of non-reserved seats on peak-period Nozomi trains will increase their number of reserved seats by about 20 percent per train, so in terms of available quantity, snagging a reserved-seat ticket will be a little easier than it would otherwise. Starting October 1, the EX Service online reservation system for shinkansen tickets will also be extending the amount of time in advance reservations can be made, allowing you to book them up to a year ahead of time. JR Central has also said that even during peak travel times, non-reserved-seat tickets will still be offered for its slower classes of shinkansen trains, Hikari, Kodama, Mizuho, and Sakura.

The reserved seat-only Nozomi policy will take effect for the first time later this year between December 28 and January 4.

Source: JR Central via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- New Shinkansen luggage rules start today, set to make travel more expensive and less convenient

-- Free Shinkansen tickets for kids travelling with parents during special JR promotion

-- New Shinkansen bullet train design revealed for Nagasaki extension

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

7 Comments
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Taking the Shinkansen without reservations from Shin-Osaka to Shinagawa, the platform was totally full of people. We estimated a 3 hour wait to board a train and decided to take the Kadama with no wait to board. It was quite a bit slower. But, was quicker without the crowding.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The best solution is to end Japan's system of state-ordered official holiday periods, when the entire nation travels during the small small windows. Allow people to chose their own holidays, rather than have the government and corporations choose them for them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

 so the aisles will be just as full.

Huh? If it's reserved seating only, there wouldn't be any people standing in the aisles, no? No seat, no ride.

When I first came to Japan, I stupidly tried to travel with a jiyuseki during GW. Never again! I still have nightmares.

Very rare in Japan for a train not to have any standing passengers. It will be like Germany. Once, when i stood up to look at the Rhineland scenery out of a window, a conductor came along to ask if there was anything wrong. LOL.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The best solution is to end Japan's system of state-ordered official holiday periods, when the entire nation travels during the small small windows. Allow people to chose their own holidays, rather than have the government and corporations choose them for them..

Like normal JeffLee has nailed it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is probably just the first stage of abolishing it all together so that greedy JR Tokai can extract more money from their passengers.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The best solution would be to increase the number of non-reserved cars.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The company says the new policy is a response to overcrowding of the unreserved-seat train cars during those peak periods.

During peak holiday times, more people ride the trains than there are seats available. So the aisles end up filling with people standing.

Making all seats reserved-only will not reduce the number of people who travel, so the aisles will be just as full.

And if this new policy also prevents anyone from standing in the aisle in these reservation-only Nozomi trains, then all the non-Nozomi trains will therefore be even more overcrowded.

And if people are allowed to still stand in the aisle of reserve-only Nozomi trains, it could easily mean that a reserved seat that is used only (for example) from Tokyo to Nagoya and is then empty after that would be unavailable for someone standing (whereas previously that person could just take that seat).

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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