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Transportation

JR Central to go global with online bullet train booking

Japanese rail operator hopes to ease congestion expected during Tokyo Olympics

More foreign travelers will be able to pay for bullet train seats online in advance. 

NAGOYA -- Central Japan Railway plans to expand its ticketless boarding service for the Tokyo-Osaka shinkansen bullet train line as early as April, allowing more foreign visitors to pay for seats in advance abroad.

The smartEX app for online booking is now available only in eight countries and regions, including the U.S., Singapore and Hong Kong, owing to the need for trademark registration. JR Central will offer a website through which foreigners anywhere in the world can register their credit cards and reserve seats.

With tourists seen flocking to Japan for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, JR Central aims to reduce congestion at stations by encouraging advance seat purchases.

SmartEX is an online reservation and ticketless boarding service for the Tokaido line connecting Tokyo and Osaka, as well as for the Sanyo line between Osaka and Fukuoka. JR Central launched the English version in October 2017 for foreign travelers in the available areas to download the app and make advance purchases.

More than 40% of Tokaido shinkansen passengers use ticketless boarding at present.

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