A common mode of transport for domestic travel is the famous bullet train known as “shinkansen.” High speed, efficient, reliable and punctual, it is less of a hassle compared to taking flights for a short distance.
Although most trains have overhead shelves for luggage, many people keep their bags in empty spaces behind seats at the end of the carriage or in front of them. With an influx for foreign tourists, the number of larger suitcases has considerably increased. From MAy 2020, a new rule will come into effect regarding oversized luggage. If you have oversized luggage (height, width, depth adding up to more than 160 cm), you will be required to book the last seats and pay an additional fee of 1000 yen per oversized piece.
JR companies have always had regulations on the size and number of bags per passenger. Each person can carry up to two bags having a length, height, width of up to 250 cm (the longest side should not exceed 200cm) weighing not more than 30 kg.
However, with the increase in the number of foreign tourists and the impact of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Tokaido Shinkansen (JR Tokai), the Sanyo Shinkansen (JR West Japan) and the Kyushu Shinkansen (JR Kyushu) announced new hand baggage regulations on August 30.
Bags that exceed the above requirements must of course not be brought into the carriage but placed in a special baggage space: “extra large baggage space.” Anything between the size of 160-250 cm will have to be placed separately and paid for additionally.
Since the compartments used by the current Shinkansen do not have special luggage space, each agency will modify the existing compartments to create spaces to execute the new rules. These spaces are divided into two types:
1. Luggage space （荷物スペース）: Space behind the last row of seats in each compartment will be designated as a dedicated area (from May 2020)
2. Luggage corner（荷物コーナー）: Some washstands have been converted into dedicated areas for luggage. The second type of space will be equipped with an anti-theft double lock (from 2023)
Currently, many passengers can continue using the space mentioned in (1) to place their own luggage. This cannot be done after the new system is implemented.
Start time and reservation
The new system will be implemented from the mid-May 2020 (subject to reservations from mid-April). Passengers wishing to use the “Extra Large Baggage Space” must make a reservation in advance for the special designated seats with “Empty luggage storage space seats.”
Reservations can be made online, at ticket vending machines and at ticket counters, and an appropriate reservation can be made in advance. If you do not reserve and find that your baggage is “extra baggage” on the same day, you will need to make a reservation on the spot through online reservation, ticket vending machine or counter.
It is necessary to pay attention to the limited number of seats per train. JR has clearly announced that if the designated seats are sold out, please select another train. The press release also mentions that if you bring the extra baggage to the car without a reservation, you will be charged.
However, the news report did not mention anything about carrying extra-large baggage in the unreserved cars. Stay tuned for more information!
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