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Japan bullet train to allow quick boarding with smartphones

Change on JR Tokai's Tokyo-Osaka line targets foreign tourists without smart cards

Passengers will be able to board trains on Central Japan Railway's Tokaido Shinkansen line by just scanning their smartphones.

NAGOYA -- Travelers will soon be able to ride shinkansen bullet trains linking Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka with just their smartphones instead of going through the hassle of getting a paper ticket or a reloadable card.

For ticketless boarding on shinkansen trains run by Central Japan Railway, passengers are currently expected to use prepaid smart cards, which are essential everyday items for locals but not for many international tourists.

With the proposed tap-and-go system, all that travelers will need to do is bring up their e-tickets on their smartphone screens and scan the QR codes at a ticket gate.

The simpler process is expected to be rolled out in the early 2020s at the soonest. The move is the latest effort by the transportation sector to make getting around the country easier, as Japan aims to draw 40 million visitors in 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

The company commonly known as JR Tokai is expected to become Japan's first railway operator to accept QR codes on mobile devices, though airlines have already adopted the technology.

To enhance convenience for the growing ranks of international passengers, JR Tokai will offer bullet-train status information on its website in seven languages, including Chinese and Korean, starting Saturday. Such information was previously given only in Japanese and English.

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