Tokyo, April 14 (Jiji Press)–The number of train seats booked for the Golden Week holiday period in Japan has hit a record low reflecting the coronavirus outbreak, the six passenger service firms of the Japan Railways Group said Tuesday.
As of Monday, only 470,000 of the 11.06 million JR train seats available for reservation had been booked for the period between April 24 and May 6. The figure, which was around 10 pct of the level a year before, was the lowest since the JR companies started to compile the data in 1997.
The data highlighted a sharp decline in demand for travel, including sightseeing and homecoming trips, amid stay-at-home requests by the central and local governments amid the coronavirus outbreak, and heightened anxiety over the epidemic.
According to the data, the number of seats booked for the period plunged by 91 pct to 350,000 for Shinkansen bullet trains and by 88 pct to 120,000 for non-Shinkansen trains.
Seat reservations dropped 92 pct for the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, 91 pct for the Tohoku and Tokaido Shinkansen lines, 89 pct for the Kyushu Shinkansen Line and 87 pct for the Joetsu Shinkansen Line.
While the railway operators have announced the peak demand days for both inbound and outbound trains for the Golden Week period every year, an official at East Japan Railway Co. <9020>, or JR East, said, “The concept of a peak day can’t be applied this year as we will unlikely see a string of fully booked trains.”
Meanwhile, the Hitachi and Tokiwa limited express trains on JR East’s Joban Line, which links Tokyo and northeastern regions of Japan, saw a 76 pct fall in the number of booked seats, a smaller decline than for other trains.
The figure may have come as the line was fully reopened for the first time in nine years last month, according to the company.