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Four listed Japan Railways Group firms posted record net losses in April-December last year, hit by plunges in revenue from their mainstay transportation services amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Of the four, East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, revised down its net loss estimate for the year ending in March from ¥418 billion to ¥450 billion, as passenger demand fell further due to voluntary restrictions on going out that spread among the public following the government’s declaration in January of a state of emergency over the virus.

JR East President Yuji Fukasawa told a news conference Tuesday that passenger demand “is unlikely to recover by the end of the (current) fiscal year” as the new state of emergency is in place in some parts of the country.

In April-December, JR East’s net loss totaled ¥294.5 billion.

Central Japan Railway Co., or JR Central, logged a net loss of ¥111.4 billion in the nine-month period. West Japan Railway Co., or JR West, and Kyushu Railway Co., or JR Kyushu, incurred net losses of ¥161.8 billion and ¥11.6 billion, respectively.

The spread of working from home and the reduced opportunities of business trips around the country hurt shinkansen services as well as conventional train services offered by the four JR firms.

The four companies saw their transportation revenues from their shinkansen and conventional train services slide from a year before by 50% to 70% and by around 40%, respectively.

Commercial facilities and hotels operated by the JR companies also fared poorly.

The four firms have begun carrying out drastic business reforms, including cutting executive remuneration and other personnel costs, moving up the departure times of the last trains of each day and considering introducing a time-of-day fare system.

JR Central, JR West and JR Kyushu maintained their net loss projections for the year ending in March. But industry watchers say it is uncertain how their earnings will change after the epidemic is brought under control.

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