JR News: JR East’s Spring 2022 changes
In line with their annual timetable change on 12 March 2022, East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has also announced new changes and updates to their train services, which will kick off from spring 2022.
① New E131 series rolling stock on the Utsunomiya Line, Nikkō Line, and Sagami Line
New E131 series train for the Utsunomiya Line and Nikko Line. (Image credit: JR East)
In order to improve passenger comfort, rolling stock on Tochigi Prefecture’s Utsunomiya Line (宇都宮線) and Nikkō Line (日光線) will be replaced with the new E131 series trains. Sections that will operated with the new E131 series trains are between Oyama Station and Kuroiso Station on the Utsunomiya Line, and the entire Nikko Line (between Utsunomiya Station and Nikko Station). The new E131 series trains mainly replace old 205-600 series trains which were introduced in March 2013.
New E131 series train for the Sagami Line. (Image credit: JR East)
In addition, on the Sagami Line (相模線) in Kanagawa Prefecture, additional new E131 series trains will go into service, and all trains running on the Sagami Line will be operated on new E131 series trains. The trains will run the entire length of the Sagami Line, between Chigasaki Station and Hashimoto Station.
② Retirement of the Iroha Joyful Train
The Iroha Joyful Train. (Image credit: JR East)
Started in April 2018, the Iroha is a Joyful Train that runs between Utsunomiya Station and Nikkō Station on the Nikkō Line. A refurbished 205-600 series train, the Iroha was aimed at foreign tourists visiting Nikko, and has a large luggage rack, free wi-fi onboard, and English tourism information on Nikko decorating its cars.
With the replacement of trains on the Nikkō Line to become the new E131 series trains, the Iroha train will end its regular operations in March 2022. A farewell event, the “Sayonara Iroha Nikko Train” (さよなら いろは日光号), will run on 26 March 2022, and tickets will go on sale from 3 February 2022.
③ Increased quantity of E7 trains on the Jōetsu Shinkansen
E7 series train. (Image credit: JR East)
In order to provide passengers with increased comfort and more pleasant rides, 12 additional E7 series train services will be added to the Jōetsu Shinkansen, which runs between Tokyo Station and Niigata Station.
In October 2021, the Jōetsu Shinkansen’s iconic double-decker trains, the E4 series MAX, were retired. Their services have since been replaced with newer and faster E7 series trains, and currently both E2 and E7 series trains run on the Jōetsu Shinkansen.
The additional trains will bring the total number of E7 series trains on the Jōetsu Shinkansen departing Tokyo Station to 27, up from 21 currently. The total number of E7 series trains on the Jōetsu Shinkansen arriving at Tokyo Station will also be increased to 28, up from 22 currently.
④ Yamagata Shinkansen to become reserved seating only
E3 series Tsubasa train on the Yamagata Shinkansen. (Image credit: JR East)
From spring 2022, in order to provide customers with more comfort, all cars on all Tsubasa trains on the Yamagata Shinkansen will become reserved seating only (全車指定席 zensha shiteiseki). Yamagata Shinkansen trains get especially crowded during the holiday season, and many customers have expressed their frustrations at not being able to get a seat, and having to queue for a long time for an unreserved seat.
The change to make all seats reserved seating will give customers peace of mind that they will be able to get a seat when riding the trains, and also make the ride a more pleasant and comfortable one.
In Eastern Japan, other shinkansen trains that are reserved seating only for all cars include Kagayaki trains on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, Hayabusa trains on the Tōhoku Shinkansen, and Komachi trains on the Akita Shinkansen. These are also the fastest on their respective lines.
⑤ Revision of Limited Express, Green Car, and Gran Class surcharges
Based on changes in the economic environment and passenger riding patterns, JR East will be revising and increasing the surcharges for some of its services. The changes are as follows:
Limited Express surcharges for the Yamagata Shinkansen and Akita Shinkansen
The E3 series “Tsubasa” on the Yamagata Shinkansen, and the E6 series “Komachi” train on the Akita Shinkansen. (Image credit: JR East)
A typical shinkansen ticket consists of two components: the basic fare (運賃 unchin) and the Limited Express surcharge (特急料金 tokkyū ryо̄kin). If you are riding the Green Car or Gran Class on the shinkansen, there will also be an additional Green Car surcharge (グリーン料金 gurīn ryо̄kin) or Gran Class surcharge (グランクラス料金 gurankurasu ryо̄kin).
With the change of Yamagata Shinkansen to become reserved seating only, its Limited Express surcharges will be revised to make them easier to understand and use. In conjunction, the Akita Shinkansen, which utilises the same fare system as the Yamagata Shinkansen, will also have its Limited Express surcharges increased.
Green Car and Gran Class surcharges
Top: Green Car and Gran Class seats on the Tohoku Shinkansen. Bottom: Premium Green and Green Compartment seats on the Saphir Odoriko. (Image credit: JR East)
The surcharges for Green Car, Premium Green Car, and Gran Class for seats on Limited Express trains and shinkansen trains within the JR East area will be increased from March 2022. In addition, the Green Car private compartment surcharge on the Saphir Odoriko will also be increased. The detailed breakdown of these increases can be found here (Japanese only).
⑥ Adjustment of shinkansen train services
Table of shinkansen service adjustments. (Image credit: JR East)
Based on analyses of train occupancy rates and passenger riding patterns, JR East will be adjusting the number shinkansen services to meet passenger demand more efficiently. Compared to the current schedule, although there will be less regular service trains, there will be more additional/seasonal train services operated during the holidays and busy periods. Above is a summary of the changes in the number of shinkansen train services being operated.
Header image credit: JR East