Shinkansen train exclusive for vaccinated passengers operated

OSAKA (Jiji Press) — West Japan Railway Co., or JR West, on Saturday operated a Shinkansen bullet train exclusive for passengers vaccinated against the novel coronavirus and those who have COVID-19 negative test results.

The train on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line left Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture in the morning for Hakata Station in Fukuoka Prefecture. The bullet train is for those participating in an overnight tour organized jointly by JR West and Nippon Travel Agency Co.

It is the first time that a chartered Shinkansen train that limits passengers to those fully vaccinated against the virus and with negative test results has been operated.

Some 200 passengers were required to submit a health check sheet. They disinfected their hands and measured their body temperatures before boarding the train. JR West and Nippon Travel set the cap on the number of passengers at 300 when they solicited participants, in order to prevent the train from being crowded. The tour cost ¥17,800 or more, including accommodation fees, per passenger.

It has not been decided if a similar chartered Shinkansen train will be operated in the future, according to the companies.

“I’m traveling to Hakata to see my relatives for the first time in three years,” a participant in his 80s said. “I feel safe” as only vaccinated people and those who have tested negative for the virus are on the train, he said.

JR West is considering offering some cars of its Shinkansen trains for exclusive use by fully vaccinated people and those with negative test results during the year-end and New Year period.