Business / Corporate

Shinkansen operator JR Central eyes own cleaning 'miracle' as it competes with rival

Kyodo

In a move to better compete with a rival train operator’s famous “7-minute miracle” for cleaning a shinkansen between its arrival and departure, Central Japan Railway Co. will shave off two minutes from its own bullet train cleaning work, beginning next spring.

JR Central plans to complete the cleaning of its 16-car Nozomi bullet trains at Tokyo Station in around 10 minutes, still longer than East Japan Railway Co.’s seven minutes.

According to staff at the Nagoya-based train operator, 52 cleaning staff belonging to a subsidiary, Shinkansen Maintenance Tokai Co., take care of the 16-car trains, tidying their seats, mopping the floor and cleaning the toilets after passengers get off and before the next passengers get on.

As shinkansen time schedules are tightly managed, cleaning work must be efficient and fast. A video entitled “7-Minute Miracle,” which shows the work of the cleaning crew for JR East’s bullet trains, has gone viral around the world with some 6 million views, and the lightning-fast cleanup has attracted global media attention.

JR Central staff said the reduction in cleaning time is necessitated by a plan to increase the number of Nozomi services beginning in spring 2020, requiring a quicker turnaround of trains.

Steps to speed up cleaning include reducing the number of times liquid soap containers are refilled in toilets, according to the staff.