West Japan Railway Co. has spent ¥30 billion to double the number of bullet trains on its most profitable route to compete with airlines serving Kyushu.
The company will add 10 new trains on the shinkansen line by the end of March, Managing Executive Officer Tatsuo Kijima said Thursday in Tokyo. The trains will make the 933-km trip from Osaka to Kagoshima using an extension that opened in March.
“We are now in the position to rival the airlines,” Kijima said. “Increasing the number of trains will make the journey even more convenient.”
JR West aims to boost its share of travelers between Osaka and Kagoshima by 10 percent to 50 percent, helped by the new line cutting an hour off the rail trip, Kijima said. Demand on the line and a quicker-than-expected travel recovery following the March earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region have already prompted JR West to raise its annual profit forecast twice.
“After the earthquake, we were pessimistic and thought the effects would last till the end of the fiscal year,” Kijima said. “But now we think there will not be much of an effect in the second half.”
In Tokyo trading, the Osaka-based company has risen 8.9 percent this year. That compares with a 6.9 percent decline for East Japan Railway Co. and 0.4 percent gain for Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai).
JR West expects to post net income of ¥40 billion in the year ending March 31. Sales may rise to almost ¥1.3 trillion.
The carrier charges ¥21,600 for reserved seats on its fastest train from Osaka to Kagoshima, a trip that takes 3 hours 45 minutes.
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