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East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), has said it will reduce the number of its train services from next spring, as the company is struggling with falling passenger numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

East Japan Railway Co. President and CEO Yuji Fukasawa speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO
East Japan Railway Co. President and CEO Yuji Fukasawa speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO

The move is designed to “shift to a more flexible cost structure,” JR East President and CEO Yuji Fukasawa told a news conference Tuesday. The company will announce details of the service cuts next month or thereafter.

JR East plans to reduce the number of Shinkansen and other limited express train services, but has said it will run extra trains in a flexible way depending on demand.

For local lines and sections that have a small number of passengers, JR East is considering reducing services, cutting the number of train cars and introducing driver-only operations.

Fukasawa said, “It’s not like we’ll cut services on all local lines, and also we’re not considering scrapping any local lines. … We want to think about how to reduce costs.”

Last month, JR East said it expected to incur a second straight group net loss in the year ending next March.

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