New rules requiring passengers to reserve space free of charge for their extra-large luggage on some shinkansen lines took effect Wednesday, in response to an increase in foreign tourists in recent years.
The step introduced on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu shinkansen lines, which connect popular tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka, came in response to an anticipated increase of visitors to the country due to the Tokyo Games, which were scheduled for this summer before being postponed to 2021.
The new rules came into force despite the games’ postponement and a sharp decline in passengers due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
The new rules will put the oversized luggage in the empty spaces directly behind the last row of seats, and there will be no extra charge when booking tickets for bullet train rides, according to operators of the shinkansen lines.
The new policy is aimed at ensuring travelers with large luggage do not block the aisle.
Currently, if the storage area is filled up and luggage cannot fit in the overhead storage area, passengers have to sit with their luggage or place it in the aisle.
Travelers with oversized luggage, defined as pieces where the sum of its length, width and height measures more than 160 centimeters, must store it in the reserved spaces or else pay an extra ¥1,000 should they fail to book, the operators said.
Exceptions include baby strollers, sports equipment such as bicycles, and musical instruments.
As in the past, any luggage with the total length, width and height exceeding 250 cm cannot be brought inside the shinkansen, while smaller luggage up to 160 cm can be stored in the overhead storage compartment.
Reservations can be made online or at the station. There are measuring stands for luggage near the ticket offices or gates.
On Wednesday, Shigemitsu Tamada, 44, who was on his way from Tokyo Station to Hiroshima Prefecture for a business trip, booked space for his luggage. “I am grateful for the new system, because I had always struggled to find a space for my baggage,” he said.