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Old November 4th, 2016, 08:52 PM   #2161
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About the eletric-battery JR East EV-E301 Series, what is the time for batteries recharge?
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Old November 8th, 2016, 05:29 AM   #2162
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Hi guys, question to foreigners visiting Japan.

What are some of the difficulties you face when using the trains when trying to reach your destination? Especially say, if you are traveling to somewhere that is NOT Tokyo or Kyoto?
Do you pay attention to the ads or announcements on the train?

I've been recently contacted by JR East to help them with various tourism related stuff, and surprisingly they asked me for those things. I'd figure they'd have done that by now, but its likely they want a specific region. From February of next year, I'll be working more closely with them.
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Old November 11th, 2016, 08:01 PM   #2163
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I've seen angry tourist in Tokyo not understand that their JR Rail Passes do not work on non-JR trains, like the Tokyo Metro.

I've also witnessed a misunderstanding about express tickets. If you take, for instance, the Narita Express from Narita to Tokyo Station, you need two tickets: a basic fare ticket and a super express ticket. I saw a family at Narita with only basic tickets and they did not understand why they could not pass through the fare gates. The JR employees in the vicinity did not speak English and everyone was irate. Fortunately, I showed up and was able to mediate.

Outside of major cities, I think the biggest challenge for tourists is understanding all the different types of trains, e.g. local, commuter, express, etc. Directions can be confusing if, for example, you have to take a local train several stops then transfer to an express train. If you're not using a smartphone, understanding schedules and the different trains can be frustrating. Trains that separate can also be confusing.

I think tourists would like to use buses to get to places where they can't go by train, but understanding bus routes and schedules is even more difficult.
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Old November 12th, 2016, 12:06 AM   #2164
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Even with a smart phone 'smart transfers' from a local to a express are not always clear, especially when there are more options. Hyperdia can give you an option, but then you still see everyone get out one stop earlier. When you transfer at the next stop you the same people sitting when you have to stand for the remainder of the trip. And as a tourist you are not always connected to the internet, especially when there's no free wifi, it's also not reasonable to expect that everyone is using the online timetables.

One other thing that is difficult is when there are issues, longer delays, cancelled trains. In Tokyo it's already difficult if the trains are disrupted after lets say a medium sized earthquake. Trains tend to start running again quite quickly and there are often several options. Plus you could take a taxi or walk in the worst case. But if you are outside of the larger cities there will be less trains and absolutely no info in English. If you are in the middle of nowhere and your trains and you have to catch a train that runs a couple of times a day, and it doesn't run you have a problem. Luckily this never happened to me, I just had a couple of times on a train that stopped for no apparent reason. Information is given via the intercom, but even if you speak a little bit of Japanese it's usually completely incomprehensible. They speak too fast and the sound quality of the speakers is just bad. It all comes down to on the spot information, staff that speak only little bit of basic English can help you out much better then if they don't speak or are afraid to speak English.

One other thing that happened to me in Osaka is that I was traveling on a JR train which came from the suburbs that run onto the Osaka loop line. The train itself didn't have any women only cars, but the car I was in happened to stop at the location of the women only car from the loop line. First I saw some women looking a bit weird at me, it took some stops to realize what it was about. I really didn't know what I was supposed to do, stay put, which I did, or walk to the next car. This kind of etiquette can be confusing for foreigners, especially when you thrown into it without realizing it. If you see the signs at the platform or on/in the cars it's not that difficult.

Navigating stations that are under construction can also be difficult as the temporary signing is not always fully in English. Especially when it's busy it can be quite tricky to find the right train. If you don't know the final destination of the train you have to take, or/and if you haven't checked a time table with platform numbers in advance it can be quite tricky. Chiba Station is an example of such a situation right now.
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Old November 12th, 2016, 12:10 AM   #2165
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Better speakers and slower announcements would also benefit the elderly.

Since it is hard/expensive to put all of these things into English, maybe work on a set of pictographs? That would also help children and the elderly. A pictograph for every situation!
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Old November 12th, 2016, 02:42 AM   #2166
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thanks for the ideas guys. some comments

1. Hyperdia - I know tourists (even Japanese) get confused about what line to take and where to transfer. Going to the train booth sometimes can be time consuming and staff often do things the old way, by looking through books. JR East (at least the one in Miyagi) told me they were considering distributing iPads to staff members, for translation purposes. I suggested they also use hyperdia, since it comes in 4 languages and is much quicker in finding proper routes (but not always the best).

2. JR lines - I think that is a very good point. A lot of foreigners don't understand the difference between JR lines and non-JR lines, and where the JR passes can be used. In the area I'm consulting, it might not be a problem since there are nothing but JR lines here and 2 city subway lines. but it certainly is a problem in the bigger cities

3. Pictographs are definitely a good idea. Compared to trains in Tokyo, the ones here don't have as much advertisement. I suggested putting more multi-lingual signs on the train to explain more situations.

4. Wifi: within Miyagi, all the subway stations are being retrofitted to have free wi-fi. But that's the city's subway system. for JR, seems to be just JR Sendai Station (mostly because the city is pushing free-wifi for tourists). would be nice if all JR stations in the prefecture could do this. I'll bring that up too.
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Old November 12th, 2016, 07:00 AM   #2167
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Mixing one and three, what about adding touch-screen kiosks with multiple languages? A person could guide themselves through the same sort of thing that a an Ipad staff member could do.

Also, when you have cycling verbal announcements with matching scrolling text, maybe romaji under the kana might help (in addition to the English translation)? It is not necessary, but it would help teach Japanese, and people might be on the lookout for certain words. It would also help teach roman-alphabet pronunciation to Japanese people.
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Old November 15th, 2016, 05:37 PM   #2168
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodalvesdepaula View Post
About the eletric-battery JR East EV-E301 Series, what is the time for batteries recharge?
4~5 minutes.
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Old November 16th, 2016, 01:20 AM   #2169
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I remember the trains were easy to get around with, even in rural areas. That was for me at least. I was confident that I had planned and prepared well and learnt how to use Hyperdia as a super-useful guide but not as an instructive authority. Even though I didn't speak Japanese, the efficiency of transport in Japan really trumped (for lack of a better word) every other factor in making a holiday there worthwhile. I remember fuming when my Italo train was an hour and a half late in Italy two months ago, making me miss climbing up the Duomo. If I had to be flexible with my routes at some point, my method with Hyperdia was to plan in the hotels or on trains where there was reception and then take screenshots of the schedule.

The one time I was truly embarrassed was when I was getting on a bus in Kyoto. This was in the evening when I am guessing it was peak hour. I recall I tried to enter from the front rather than the middle/back door. The queue of people was being held up while the driver tried to explain to me in Japanese something I obviously could not comprehend. I was just so confused and red-faced at being the centre of attention for once. After vaguely grasping the concept of entry into a Kyoto bus, I was further thrown off kilter when I could not understand that I only had to pay at the end. It was like giving money away and being told "no thank you I do not want your money (yet), please sit down Sir." Riding buses in Japan - something I had obviously not prepared for haha.

If there's anything constructive I would suggest, maybe provide a really brief booklet (maybe with pictorials) for passengers arriving on planes informing about how to use transport in Japan because it is more than likely that foreigners would be using some form of public transport during their stay, whether it be suburban or long distance. The point about basic and express fares is one example of something that is unique to Japan but critical to know, but so are other issues like queuing on platforms (I don't remember hearing announcements about that but it became intuitive after some time) and not buying a ticket on a smoking car on your way up to Utsunomiya if you don't like asthma attacks (OK this was ten years ago so I hope there's no smoking cars left!). If I was provided such a booklet on the plane before arrival, on my way out of the plane or by an immigration or customs officer, I would personally love to read it and keep it as a souvenir. I don't think it would be too costly if there was a collaboration between JR East, other transport companies, the Government and ANA or JAL for example.

Also going through the staffed gate with a JR Pass is usually easiest at most times but when you're in a really bad rush, being held up by a queue albeit for understandable
reasons can be frustrating. I wish at such times that I could just use an automated ticket barrier. This isn't such a biggy of course. I was more paranoid about my partner and I losing our JR Passes lol.
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Old November 20th, 2016, 11:29 AM   #2170
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About problems on JR Hokkaido Lines:

Quote:
JR Hokkaido says it can’t maintain half of its railways

At a news conference at JR Hokkaido’s head office in Sapporo, President Osamu Shimada said the company finds it hard to continue operating 13 money-losing sections of 10 lines on its own.

The 13 sections total 1,237 kilometers, about half of the total length of the railways operated by JR Hokkaido.



JR Hokkaido assumes that three of the 13 sections will be scrapped: the 47.6-km section between Hokkaido-Iryodaigaku and Shin-Totsukawa stations on the Sassho Line, the 81.7-km section between Furano and Shintoku stations on the Nemuro Main Line and the 50.1-km section between Fukagawa and Rumoi stations on the Rumoi Main Line.

On each of the three, the average daily number of passengers per kilometer is below 200. JR Hokkaido will consider introducing bus services for users of the sections.

For eight of the other 10 sections where the per-kilometer average daily passenger number is between 200 and below 2,000, including the 183.2-km section between Nayoro and Wakkanai stations on the Soya Main Line, the company hopes to hold talks with nearby municipalities on sharing costs to maintain their operations.

As one of possible options, JR Hokkaido is expected to propose a method in which local governments own part of railway facilities, including tracks. Such a measure is likely to face local opposition.

Of the remaining two sections, JR Hokkaido has already proposed scrapping the 16.1-km section between Shin-Yubari and Yubari stations on the Sekisho Line, and the city of Yubari has indicated acceptance of the plan.

For the 116-km section between Mukawa and Samani stations on the Hidaka Main Line, which has already been suspended, the company will consult with a council set up by local governments.

JR Hokkaido is one of Japan Railways Group companies born out of the April 1987 breakup and privatization of Japanese National Railways.

A series of safety problems have occurred at JR Hokkaido in recent years, including a May 2011 incident in which a six-car Super Ozora limited express train derailed and caught fire in a tunnel on the Sekisho Line, injuring 79 of the 250 passengers and crew members.

As a result, the company’s repair costs and safety investment have ballooned.

“If we do nothing” to improve financial conditions, “our company would be unable to secure funds for safety measures at the end of fiscal 2019,” Shimada said at Friday’s news conference. “We will make efforts to reach certain agreements with the relevant local authorities by around that time.”
The Japan Times



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Reconstruction works on JR Nemuro Line (Sapporo - Obihiro - Kushiro) continues. The line was severally affected by typhoons during summer. Company expects to resume operations by the end of 2016.



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Old November 21st, 2016, 03:57 PM   #2171
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Out of curiosity, I checked the populations of some of the towns with routes which will be canceled--it's amazing that service was even kept up to some of these communities. Rumoi and Furano have populations of ~25,000, Yubari is ~10,000, and Samani and Shintoku of much less than 10,000. I can't imagine that any of these services even covered their operating costs with their own ridership.
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Old November 21st, 2016, 04:19 PM   #2172
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaticko View Post
Out of curiosity, I checked the populations of some of the towns with routes which will be canceled--it's amazing that service was even kept up to some of these communities. Rumoi and Furano have populations of ~25,000, Yubari is ~10,000, and Samani and Shintoku of much less than 10,000. I can't imagine that any of these services even covered their operating costs with their own ridership.
That's usually the case for JR lines in rural areas. One of the problems with JNR was that while many of the lines in the Kanto and Kansai areas were profitable, many of the ones in Shikoku, Tohoku, and Hokkaido, etc were in the red. When JNR split up into the regional JR companies, they dumped quite a few of these rural, unprofitable lines. However profit or not, many of these rural areas still rely on them (even if ridership had been declining).

That's why you see many third sector rail lines in these areas. Usually owned by the prefecture, various local cities and local businesses. Most of them are still running in the red.
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Old November 22nd, 2016, 01:34 AM   #2173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyukyuRhymer View Post
thanks for the ideas guys. some comments

1. Hyperdia - I know tourists (even Japanese) get confused about what line to take and where to transfer. Going to the train booth sometimes can be time consuming and staff often do things the old way, by looking through books. JR East (at least the one in Miyagi) told me they were considering distributing iPads to staff members, for translation purposes. I suggested they also use hyperdia, since it comes in 4 languages and is much quicker in finding proper routes (but not always the best).
One thing I found on my trip to Japan last year was that the mobile Hyperdia app is only available in certain countries. In Australia, I was not able to install it prior to arriving in Japan. Even after landing, my foreign SIM card still made it impossible to install until I removed it and was on Japanese WiFi, something many tourists would not follow up on to do.

Quote:
2. JR lines - I think that is a very good point. A lot of foreigners don't understand the difference between JR lines and non-JR lines, and where the JR passes can be used. In the area I'm consulting, it might not be a problem since there are nothing but JR lines here and 2 city subway lines. but it certainly is a problem in the bigger cities
An extra point here is that the fact that on some rural lines, JR Lines especially, no single train services the whole line. Requiring a transfer at some small rural station for what can be a considerable time. I had almost a two hour wait at Minakami on the Joetsu Line.

Also the fact that some private lines are included on some JR passes but not on others can add to the confusion.

Quote:
3. Pictographs are definitely a good idea. Compared to trains in Tokyo, the ones here don't have as much advertisement. I suggested putting more multi-lingual signs on the train to explain more situations.
This is something I support wholeheartedly. While I am a native English speaker, it is wrong to assume all foreigners can understand English. Through out my travels I have seen many tourists who have little to no knowledge of English being baffled by English words alone written on signage. From working on big events, like the Sydney 2000 Olympics, I understand that a picture can speak a thousand words in a thousand languages.

Quote:
4. Wifi: within Miyagi, all the subway stations are being retrofitted to have free wi-fi. But that's the city's subway system. for JR, seems to be just JR Sendai Station (mostly because the city is pushing free-wifi for tourists). would be nice if all JR stations in the prefecture could do this. I'll bring that up too.
Staying connected is critical for many people and the nature of the Japanese telecommunication market restricts many foreigners to WiFi for everything they do. Convenience store and restaurant WiFi can be patchy or difficult to find when absolutely you need it. Municipal and blanket coverage of JR stations would be appreciate it.

Finding tourist friendly daily passes and metro cards for metro services is essential. Upon arrival in a new and strange city, tourists do not want to be confronted with weird and wonderful rules and restrictions for various modes of transport, such as good for subway travel but not on buses, confusing multiple types of passes or time limitations. Prefectural wide multi-modal public transport passes would be ideal but are difficult to negotiate with the various stakeholders.

Lastly I would say that I would be the exception to the rule, like others on this forum. Being rail nuts, I studied and researched hard multiple route configurations between points A & B. I knew exactly the restrictions on my JR Pass and I was determined to maximise it. I know most others would be more casual and less fastidious in their rail travel than myself. I would say that most of the station staff that I encountered were more than friendly and keen to help with platform transfers. Many of them approached me without needing to be prompted for help, even if their own English skills was not good.
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Old November 22nd, 2016, 04:24 PM   #2174
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Wait, what exactly is meant by the passenger-per-km in that JR Hokkaido article. Is that the number of passengers on the line divided by the length of the line?
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Old November 22nd, 2016, 05:23 PM   #2175
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I think a big problem with many of the JR Hokkaido lines is the sheer remoteness, which makes ridership quite low. That's why JR Kyushu and (increasingly) JR Shikoku are emphasizing more and more tourist-oriented excursion trains to help pay for line up keep. Mind you, JR Kyushu is more a real estate company nowadays, making a huge fraction of its profits from the Hakata Station City shopping center project. I believe that JR West is about to return to profitability now that they're finally retiring all that bad debt incurred at the time of its forming in 1987.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 05:39 AM   #2176
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Short View Post
One thing I found on my trip to Japan last year was that the mobile Hyperdia app is only available in certain countries. In Australia, I was not able to install it prior to arriving in Japan. Even after landing, my foreign SIM card still made it impossible to install until I removed it and was on Japanese WiFi, something many tourists would not follow up on to do.



An extra point here is that the fact that on some rural lines, JR Lines especially, no single train services the whole line. Requiring a transfer at some small rural station for what can be a considerable time. I had almost a two hour wait at Minakami on the Joetsu Line.

Also the fact that some private lines are included on some JR passes but not on others can add to the confusion.



This is something I support wholeheartedly. While I am a native English speaker, it is wrong to assume all foreigners can understand English. Through out my travels I have seen many tourists who have little to no knowledge of English being baffled by English words alone written on signage. From working on big events, like the Sydney 2000 Olympics, I understand that a picture can speak a thousand words in a thousand languages.



Staying connected is critical for many people and the nature of the Japanese telecommunication market restricts many foreigners to WiFi for everything they do. Convenience store and restaurant WiFi can be patchy or difficult to find when absolutely you need it. Municipal and blanket coverage of JR stations would be appreciate it.

Finding tourist friendly daily passes and metro cards for metro services is essential. Upon arrival in a new and strange city, tourists do not want to be confronted with weird and wonderful rules and restrictions for various modes of transport, such as good for subway travel but not on buses, confusing multiple types of passes or time limitations. Prefectural wide multi-modal public transport passes would be ideal but are difficult to negotiate with the various stakeholders.

Lastly I would say that I would be the exception to the rule, like others on this forum. Being rail nuts, I studied and researched hard multiple route configurations between points A & B. I knew exactly the restrictions on my JR Pass and I was determined to maximise it. I know most others would be more casual and less fastidious in their rail travel than myself. I would say that most of the station staff that I encountered were more than friendly and keen to help with platform transfers. Many of them approached me without needing to be prompted for help, even if their own English skills was not good.
thanks for your input!
as for Hyperdia on mobile devices. I downloaded it an dyou're right.. its weird. don't know why it doesn't function in the same way the webpage does. its just easier to go on your browser on your mobile, and go to the normal site
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 10:58 AM   #2177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyukyuRhymer View Post
thanks for your input!
as for Hyperdia on mobile devices. I downloaded it an dyou're right.. its weird. don't know why it doesn't function in the same way the webpage does. its just easier to go on your browser on your mobile, and go to the normal site
At least you can download it, it is only available in a few select countries for some obscure reason. I used the JR East app mostly as it was more freely available before I departed for Japan.
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Old November 26th, 2016, 02:32 AM   #2178
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Sharing my photos from train spotting at Nippori Station


Tokyo Express
by George Qua, on Flickr
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Old November 29th, 2016, 04:25 PM   #2179
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Trains at Shinagawa Sta.

Photoed by @-CNAurora-

Left : Toei 5300 series Right : 2100 series


N1000 series


Left : N1000 series Right : 800 series






Right : 1500 series

Right : Hokuso 7500 series




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Old December 3rd, 2016, 09:29 PM   #2180
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Meine Damen und Herren, the Tobu 500 series "Revaty" Limited Express delivering from Kobe plant:

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