An Interview with the President
Next, please tell us about "service quality reform."
We will provide more through services with other companies and improve the reliability of transportation in order to improve the quality of our Tokyo metropolitan area railway network. At the same time, I want to make JR East more competitive by expanding the intercity transportation network with new operations of Shinkansen lines.
One illustration of initiatives for service quality reform is our plan to target latent demand by enhancing and expanding our Tokyo metropolitan area railway network. We have already been adding to this network in recent years, such as by starting the Shonan-Shinjuku Line. Upcoming actions include completion of the Tohoku Through Line, which is scheduled for fiscal 2015, and through services with Sagami Railway. I believe these steps will stimulate new sources of demand while making us more competitive. Improving the reliability of transportation is another ongoing priority. Delays caused by accidents resulting in injury or death have a direct influence on a railway company’s competitive edge. We are taking many actions: quickly resuming operation after an accident; reinforcing shuttle operations; quickly announcing the expected length of a delay; and installing automatic platform gates on platforms at Yamanote Line stations.
For our Shinkansen services, progress is continuing on expanding the intercity network. Operations are scheduled to begin by the end of fiscal 2015 on the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa, and by the end of fiscal 2016 on the Hokkaido Shinkansen between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate. Approximately 2.6 million people travel between Tokyo and Kanazawa every year. Railways have a market share of about 40% and airlines account for most of the remainder. Extending the Shinkansen to Kanazawa will cut travel time between the two cities to about two and a half hours. This will make railways much more attractive. Furthermore, extending the Shinkansen service to Shin-Hakodate will allow trains to reach the city from Tokyo in four hours. Furthermore, this link will make it possible to create a broad tourism zone covering northern Tohoku and Hakodate. I have high hopes for an increase in tourism to the Tohoku region when the Hokkaido Shinkansen service to Shin-Hakodate starts.