East Japan Railway Co. said Monday it will spend at least 50 billion yen to 60 billion yen during four years from fiscal 2005 on antiquake measures such as reinforcing elevated lines.

The move was prompted by a series of heavy earthquakes that hit Niigata Prefecture and derailed a bullet train in October.

Roughly 25 billion yen was spent between fiscal 1995 and 2003, JR East officials said.

“We will give more emphasis on safety-related investment,” JR East President Mutsutake Otsuka told reporters.

The new investment plan is part of the carrier’s four-year business plan announced the same day.

The October earthquakes caused the first-ever derailment of a shinkansen in the system’s 40-year history.

The news shattered the shinkansen safety myth and raised public calls on JR regional carriers to step up their antiquake efforts.

JR East said it plans to finish work on 7,500 piers by the end of March 2006, front loading the initial schedule by three years.

JR East lost 14 billion yen in revenue following the earthquakes and expects to spend 20 billion yen to restore its equipment.

Otsuka said the impact of the earthquakes on its business is limited and temporary.

Under the new business plan, JR East aims to generate 2.67 trillion yen in sales in fiscal 2008, up 5.1 percent from the fiscal 2003 levels, and 410 billion yen in operating profit, up 16.7 percent.

The increase in profit will partly be supported by the expanded customer base of Suica electronic train fare cards, the firm said. The cards can be used for shopping in and outside JR stations, including convenience stores and restaurants. JR East earns a commission from member stores.

It hopes to more than double the number of shoppers using the cards to 4 million a day in fiscal 2008.

JR East hopes to make Suica cards the third pillar of its business after rail transport and shopping complexes, Otsuka said.

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