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JR East, West to cut commuter services next year amid pandemic

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"If we reduce the number of trains at peak times, we can also slash the number of trains we need to keep, benefiting our businesses," he said, referring to the importance of cost reduction.

If that were true, the logical conclusion would be to have to no trains at all for the most benefit to their business.

10 ( +27 / -17 )

The run to the bottom has reached the train services as well. Use the pandemic as an excuse to cut the service to make more profit. These service cuts will never be undone and the service will continue to be cut in the coming years.

23 ( +35 / -12 )

They should be putting MORE trains on so they’re less crowded!!!

54 ( +62 / -8 )

They should be putting MORE trains on so they’re less crowded!!!

It's all about profit

"If we reduce the number of trains at peak times, we can also slash the number of trains we need to keep, benefiting our businesses," he said, referring to the importance of cost reduction.

16 ( +23 / -7 )

Disgusting.

24 ( +34 / -10 )

Wrong

22 ( +29 / -7 )

And the government advice on social distancing is obviously not applicable to train companies…

38 ( +42 / -4 )

The morning commute has been dangerously overcrowded for decades. Guess they don't want that to change.

31 ( +35 / -4 )

And then probably being quite astonished why omicron spreads even more exponentially and wildly in those fewer but crowded trains, leading to later full suspension of commuting and the whole economy.

19 ( +24 / -5 )

agree with all above posters. But it doesn't surprise me as the LOGICAL thing to do would be to increase trains to encourage social distancing, but as anyone who has lived here for a decent amount of time knows- Japan doesn't do logic.

23 ( +28 / -5 )

Less trains during rush hour means everyone getting even more squashed on the way to work tryouts cram in

23 ( +25 / -2 )

If this is going to be the new norm, then companies should effect staggered commute and push for more remote work. Don't pack the trains...

24 ( +25 / -1 )

Since the start of the pandemic, trains have certainly been running under capacity increasing the deficits ( not sure if a profitable capacity means packed train) but now that people are going back to work, with less telework. trains are getting busy again.

JR, that used to be the railway public company, runs one the most important transportation infrastructure in Japan and will never collapse. The company has just to balance its sheet. Train reductions like for the other companies has certainly been approved by the transport ministry.

But decreasing during rush hours is bad. Trains are never empty at that time.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Bonkers!!

15 ( +17 / -2 )

The people who make the decisions are not the same people who take the trains in the morning… Maybe they should run a survey at the train stations asking passengers what they think?

15 ( +18 / -3 )

So the old excuse about Tokyo's crushing passenger congestion isn't because of capacity and population density - it's about corporate profits.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Title is a bit misleading, they are reducing services because less people are using it

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

More crowded trains is a great idea during a pandemic.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Good, the less the better, so we don't have to build new nuclear power plants to supply these energy sucking machines.

-17 ( +0 / -17 )

If that were true, the logical conclusion would be to have to no trains at all for the most benefit to their business.

Someone has never heard of diminishing marginal returns.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

at the train stations asking passengers what they think?No, No...that would mean that you take „personal experience“ from passengers into consideration.

That is not good.

I guess JR has Data which confirm and backup their actions and which can prove the passengers "personal experience" as wrong!

So only JR’s Data count...at least according to some people.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japanese people taking trains every morning knows where to stand to get their seat as they study and memorize who gets of where

3 ( +6 / -3 )

what are the options for crowded trains and social distancing?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

 these energy sucking machines.

Japanese train systems have been among the best in he world for years. I rely on them daily because I do not own a car.

Too bad Japan Inc. cannot see there might be better ways to generate electricity other than nuke plants or burning huge amounts of fossil fuels.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

JR is a listed company. They have shareholders to report to and profits to make. Unless you expect the Government to prop them up which most of would instantly slam, like you did when JAL was bailed outthen what do you expect them to do?

If this is you attitude to living in a capitalist country I suggest you go and live in Cuba or North Korea.

JR still run and will continue to run a service that most other countries can only dream of. You are all living in LaLa Land if you think this is 'disgusting'.

-12 ( +8 / -20 )

Once upon a time there were services. We had a train service, telephone service, postal service. They were services, and their purpose was to serve. Those days have passed. We now have the train business, telephone business, postal business. Their purpose is to make money, to make money from the taxpayers is paid to start them and build them up.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Really bad decision.

Does anyone working for JR admin actually use the trains?

They're as busy as they ever were, reducing the number of trains is just wrong.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

¥ rather than health…this is result in serious issues.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Fewer trains, or more expensive train fares, cant have both

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

@Chabbawanga: Exactly. Both of which would get slammed by 99% of posters. Almost zero thought of market economics.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

So the morning trains need to be packed?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Lovely - So, plenty of downvotes to my comments,but no argument against. Can't say I'm surprised

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Lovely - only thinking about the money in the middle of a pandemic.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This is just so stupid decision! Thank God, I don't use the train otherwise I would be up the creek.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Every time there is an article here about Japan's declining population someone will inevitably chime in with a comment like "less people will be great, the trains will be less crowded!"

This is why that will never happen. The second ridership goes down, they just reduce the number of trains to maintain the current level of overcrowding. It sucks.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

JR is a listed company. They have shareholders to report to and profits to make. Unless you expect the Government to prop them up which most of would instantly slam, like you did when JAL was bailed outthen what do you expect them to do?

If this is you attitude to living in a capitalist country I suggest you go and live in Cuba or North Korea.

JR still run and will continue to run a service that most other countries can only dream of. You are all living in LaLa Land if you think this is 'disgusting'.

So your point is that a capitalist system is incapable of offering trains that aren't insanely overcrowded? And if we want comfortable trains, we have to go to Cuba or North Korea?

I don't think that is a strong argument, nor does it seem accurate.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Not just declining but an aging population as well

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@theResident

JR has, in many parts, a monopoly on public transportation.

Public services, indeed any service which has a natural monopoly, should not be privatized because all you do is create a private monopoly in the place of a public one. And we know what happens to private monopolies: they get run down in the name of ¥¥¥ and the unprofitable parts are sold off / shut down and the track bed goes to real estate companies. Heck, even profitable parts will be sold off for a fat windfall - think of all that prime real estate those rusty old iron rails in downtown Tokyo occupy.

You want a case study study of the liquidation of public assets? Go to the U.K. where you pay Shinkansen Green Car prices to travel in a filthy carriage packed in like sardines.

I repeat that public services should NEVER be privatized where they constitute a natural monopoly. If that makes me a Communist, so be it.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Even if there are less people on the trains, which I find hard to believe, they are still overcrowded. How is being pressed up against strangers seen as an acceptable way to run the trains? Even when I lived in a very small inaka town, travelling to the next city over by train in the morning meant being squashed.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@Bungle - But JNR was split up into the different companies and privatised but nevertheless has kept very high standards. Yes, they do have a monopoly in many parts of Japan That could be said for the dominant company in most countries. But generally only where another private company knows it couldn't make money. JR East loses an incredible amount of money on many routes. .We should be grateful we also have an incredible amount of private railways also in the cities that not only provide competition to the JR companies but also work hand in hand with them on through services. My comparison to NK and Cuba was of course extreme, but I challenge you to find a better run railway network that has to cater to so many people anywhere else in the world.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Some of the posters here seem to be dreaming. We are here in Tokyo commuting daily in packed JRs and Tokyo Metro. We are fine with that. No it’s not ideal to be properly socially distanced in such an environment but train cars are disinfected before use and windows are lowered partially to help better ventilate apart from the ac running. Japanese passengers also behave well in the train coz they mostly don’t talk or talk quietly. It’s tough to see fewer trains running but if they as a business has to survive like we do costs need to be managed. I would say total train runs will be fewer but frequency during rush hours will be maintained to ensure everyone gets to work on time, if they are not able to se flexi time which is becoming more and more popular here among corporate Japan . This is a new normal and we all are adapting to it. Slam it as you wish but who cares if you are not even living here. We appreciate all the hard work and service train companies here have been doing and the service is still second to none having experienced almost everywhere in the world except North Korea and Russia.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

This move is asinine. Trains here are packed past capacity during peak times and reducing the number of trains is only going to exacerbate the issue.

This could only potentially work if the train companies collaborate with businesses and both parties agree that staggered working hours for employees are guaranteed...which they are not.

I scoff every time I hear the announcement about changing to staggered working hours at the stations because it's not like the average employee here can do this of their own volition. This entire venture is going to spell disaster for everyone.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

“Our local JR West line reduced trains from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes and when the train arrives they are more packed.”

@zichi. I think for trains that run every 20-30 minutes, they must be operated at a very inaka area or the demand there is really low. The more sensible mode of transport then would be by car. Trains in metropolitan areas in Tokyo are running at intervals of 1-2 minutes.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Good luck with the Corona-chan.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

common sense vs profit.railway company goes for profit.common sense is gone.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

“So the morning trains need to be packed?”

another reckless question. What would you expect? Have you seen empty roads at peak hours?

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

“what are the options for crowded trains and social distancing?”

cars if you can afford them and the unpredictability of traveling time in big cities. Bicycles if the distance is not too far and terrain not too hilly. Bicycle companies have been struggling to meet orders these days due to both demand and supply chain disruptions. Ideally I would walk if it takes less than 30m one way. There are options of course but not for everyone. And for a city of staggering pop of 12-15m, you have to rely on public transportation like trains And I think tokyoites at least have been managing it well commuting despite the corona virus.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

This is utterly moronic, because I know for a fact that many companies are ordering a full return to pre-covid working styles from February 1st next year. So there's going to be a big surge in passenger numbers just as JR East is cutting services... this is nuts.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

so glad I only ride trains in tokyo once in every couple of months, and never during rush hours. that’s plain insane

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This makes economic sense, and a few posters here do understand that.

Trains companies are not charities, and are very expensive to run with all that infrastructure to maintain and the power they use. They had a good run with the tourism boom, which probably helped to fill their coffers and pay for investment in new rolling stock and station upgrades.

But with falling commuter numbers they can't keep up the same level of service without cutting costs or raising prices, so they'd prefer to cut costs by reducing services. That makes sense, even if some people don't like it.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

I use the Takasaki Line to Tokyo Ueno Line route in the morning. I hardly ever get the chance to sit down during my 1 hour + train ride. Trains haven't been severely packed during the pandemic but the seats certainly were. The morning ride is pretty much back to normal nowadays. Maybe get rid of the green-sha and allow for more people to sit during long trips to break even if reducing trains is necessary. JR needs to understand that fossils still run companies and they don't understand the concept of remote work till this very day.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why reduce trains during peak hours? I'm enjoying the less crowded trains and nice to get a seat.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I understand the reasoning, which is not saying that I agree with it. Most of those trains are packed going in to Tokyo but empty leaving Tokyo and going back to be parked out of Tokyo. Many more trains are needed in the rush hour than in off peak periods. Removing on train from the rush hour makes removing one from the fleet possible. There will be one fewer to buy, maintain and park.

To understand think of a two car family going to one car because they don't need to use both at the same time so often.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I guess for those companies it's normal to stuff the train with so much people that they barely can close the doors. "Oh, how horrible that this doesn't happen anymore.. let's bring it back". These morons.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

“The majority of the country's residents do not live in Tokyo. Increasing car use is a bad solution which will increase pollution. Older people may not drive. Public transport is part of the future going forward the car is not.”

zichi san. I understand that. And the plan train companies are considering would be more impactful in big cities than not. Changes, if any, in rural and remote areas will be minimum I would say in terms of both customer usage and the company’s bottom line so I guess this is more about operations in big cities. I would like to see them keep train frequency at peak hours, which are now perhaps extending to 9am given staggering commuting, and am fine with fewer trains running at intervals off peaks.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Trains companies are not charities, and are very expensive to run with all that infrastructure to maintain and the power they use.

@prionking.

The logical conclusion to this line of thinking is that we decommission all the lines which do not turn a profit. Bye-bye rail services outside any major metropolitan center.

Historically, the railways turned a profit from the freight they shipped, not from passenger services. Passenger cars were initially an afterthought bolted onto the freight trains.

For this reason, rail passenger services should be publicly owned. Remove the profit motive - having the network break even will suffice - and you can focus on providing customer service.

If the private sector and its shills have their way, we'll all be clambering a board a twice-daily two-car DMU like Bangladeshis.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

At least people still refrain from talking or riding without masks in Japan, crowds are going to be impossible to navigate thanks to profits being the only priority.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@prionking also brings up excellent points about infrastructure and rolling stock upgrades here which happen with regularity compared to other countries. I believe the Yamnote Line is on its 4th iteration since I arrived here and due to signaling upgrades, even with the new reduced timetables will probably be running at its frequency from 10 years ago at worst.

I don't think the frequency of trains in the inaka is of consequence. Most passengers are retired and don't need to be anywhere THAT quickly.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Some of the posters here seem to be dreaming. We are here in Tokyo commuting daily in packed JRs and Tokyo Metro. We are fine with that.

Speak for yourself.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@Newgirlintown

Today 07:09 am JST

They should be putting MORE trains on so they’re less crowded!!!

The idea is to reduce cost for the company. Your way is increasing cost. Your comment does not make sense.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

and @Bungle - and in most countries your logical conclusion would indeed happen.

Fortunately the privatised arms of JNR as we know them today don't do that but will only be able continue with this if cuts are made elsewhere. The Revenue simply isn't there.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

trains are packed again even now. Cant imagine how packed they will be under this new concept.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

so instead of a regular intervals of busy trains, we'll have fewer, absolutely slammed trains. great...just what everyone wanted

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Enjoy the Ginza tuna can line soon it going to get really squashy once they implement the change

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Ginza Line is not operated by JR.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If the government had any guts they'd say JR is not allowed to have over a certain capacity, but of course JR owns government decisions, so they'll continue their attempts keep profit far above safety, and will instead pack the trains during a pandemic in order to do so.

Japan may have been able to fudge the numbers and play stupid when lying about them being a quarter to a fifth of what they actually were during Delta, but Omicron will rip these crowds to shreds, and JR will be in part to blame.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

“If the government had any guts they'd say JR is not allowed to have over a certain capacity, but of course JR owns government decisions, so they'll continue their attempts keep profit far above safety, and will instead pack the trains during a pandemic in order to do so. 

Japan may have been able to fudge the numbers and play stupid when lying about them being a quarter to a fifth of what they actually were during Delta, but Omicron will rip these crowds to shreds, and JR will be in part to blame.”

wow. Big words. Impressive.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Oxycodin. Ginza line is run by Tokyo Metro, not JR… although they might also have similar plan but that’s not that I understand

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@Reckless.. “Speak for yourself.” Absolutely. You don’t have to be in that.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Well said @smithinjapan ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@smithinjapan: Use JR East a lot down there is Osaka, do you? So, you'll be aware of the continual upgrades in infrastructure, signalling, station access, frequency of trains (up UNTIL this point). I'll wait you for you to come up with an algorithm that is safe to let and more Yamanote trains run safely than already do.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

East Japan Railway's (9020 JT) Net Income for this yr is expected to be a loss of over 500 billion yen (due to revenue decline but an unchanged fixed cost)... compared that to previous years 2019 and 2020 where net income was a gain of 295 billion yen and 198 billion yen... thats a massive decline so its expected they have to make cuts... once their revenue rises back to pre-pandemic levels, you can expect them to increase the trains... like it or not, this is how business works

3 ( +5 / -2 )

once their revenue rises back to pre-pandemic levels, you can expect them to increase the trains

If you noticed advertising revenue must be half of what it used to be. Just look at the empty overhead advertising spots.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

NationalJR East, West to cut commuter services next year amid pandemic

....causing more congestion in the remaining trains, which apparently is what you want when you are worried about an airborne infectious disease. Same "logic" that applied for those 8-oclock closure for restaurants. Go figure.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Wish Keisei would cut the Skyliner to Narita service.

These all but empty trains take priority so many people have to wait on very crowded trains and crossings so the damn things can pass and carry their less than a handful of passengers to either Narita or Ueno.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It looks to me like quite a few on this forum subscribe to magic money tree economics. It's all very well for you to complain about JR cutting services based on fewer riders, but these trains cost loads to operate, and oddly enough, it's passenger fares that supply most of this money.

If you can think of a way for JR to keep supplying a safe, clean and frequent service at the levels you've become accustomed to without raising their fares or bleeding red ink thanks to pandemic policies, I'd love to hear it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I have no problem with them raising fares 5-10 times for the morning crush. Seems the smartest thing to do and avoid the need for massive capital investment in new trains and lines with a falling population.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'm sorry Reckless? 5-10x much? Think before you type. I can get a taxi for 9X my train fare. I'm pretty sure that 95% would no longer be able to travel to work and the same percentage of companies would stop paying fares at those rates.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I'm pretty sure that 95% would no longer be able to travel to work and the same percentage of companies would stop paying fares at those rates.

Fantastic! Problem solved.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I would like to see trains start later and finish later. If telework means that people are out partying late then these trains will be more welcome.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

More stupidity.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Have they even got the yamanote lately? It’s not ok for people to travel in worse, more crammed conditions than cattle..

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yamnote Line has ALWAYS been like that. It's never been as bad in the two years before COVID came upon us. Stop making a fuss. What's the longest time anybody spends on the line? 20 minutes?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

These comments, too much complaints even with the Greatest train service system in the world.

Consider yourself lucky that you don't have to sit on the train rooftop everyday to commute.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Understood @zichi: of course they are, like any train in the US or Europe at the same time. Surely you can just travel off peak.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I did not see reduced travelers during peak hours.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Covid numbers are infinitesimal, yet with reckless abandon they’re already informing us of their intention to slash services. If only they were as proactive in regard to the coordination of train schedules to ensure smoother commutes and utilizing express services more efficiently than is currently the case.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

oyatoi

Covid numbers are infinitesimal, yet with reckless abandon they’re already informing us of their intention to slash services.

But if you look to a Omicron future, best to take precautions.

If only they were as proactive in regard to the coordination of train schedules to ensure smoother commutes and utilizing express services more efficiently than is currently the case.

Wow. Try living in any other country and realize that Japan has the best commuter train service in the world. Sure anything could be better, but a little gratitude goes a long way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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