Bullet trains cut by 40% to Hokkaido, other Japan destinations

TOKYO — East Japan Railway will slash high-speed bullet train service by about 40% indefinitely as the country’s coronavirus outbreak disrupts plans by business travelers and tourists.

The service cuts begin May 28 on shinkansen lines connecting Tokyo and northern Japan, the railroad operator known as JR East said Wednesday.

The reductions will affect service to destinations including Hokkaido and Kanazawa.

Japan’s government on Thursday is expected to lift its state of emergency in most regions, but Tokyo and Hokkaido are among those that will remain under travel and business restrictions.

JR East trains will be reduced on the Tohoku, Hokkaido, Akita, Yamagata, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen lines.

Extra bullet train service planned for June, primarily on weekends, is canceled as well. Japan’s top railroad operator by revenue had already halted seat reservations for those trains.

Express trains that link the capital with closer destinations, including the Fuji Excursion line traveling to the foot of Japan’s tallest mountain, will be reduced by about 20%.

For social distancing purposes, JR East also will continue to suspend ticket sales for its Gran Class premium bullet train offering, which features attendant service with amenities. In addition, onboard food trolleys will remain unavailable in Green Car class.

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