West Japan Railway Co., or JR West, on Saturday operated a bullet train exclusively for passengers vaccinated against the novel coronavirus or those who have provided negative COVID-19 test results.

The train on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line left Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture in the morning for Hakata Station in Fukuoka Prefecture. The bullet train is for those participating in an overnight tour organized jointly by JR West and Nippon Travel Agency Co.

It is the first time that a chartered bullet train that limits passengers to those fully vaccinated against the virus or with negative test results has been operated.

Some 200 passengers were required to submit a health check sheet. They disinfected their hands and took their temperatures before boarding the train. JR West and Nippon Travel capped the number of passengers at 300 when advertising for participants, in order to prevent the train from being crowded. The tour costs started at ¥17,800, including accommodation fees, per passenger.

The companies said that they have not decided if a similar chartered bullet trains will be operated in the future.

“I’m traveling to Hakata to see my relatives for the first time in three years,” a participant in his 80s said, adding that he felt safe since only vaccinated people and those who have tested negative for the virus were on the train.

JR West is considering offering some cars of its bullet trains for exclusive use by fully vaccinated people or those with negative test results during the year-end and New Year period.

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