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Japan rail operators splurge on comfort to draw new riders

Private companies boost spending on safety as Olympics approach

Nankai Electric Railway's Rapi:t express train. Japan's 16 major private rail operators are headed toward making record investments for a third straight year. (Photo by Kento Awashima)

TOKYO -- Capital spending by Japan's private rail operators looks on track for another all-time high, with much of the money going toward comfortable new trains in a bid to boost ridership as well as safety upgrades ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 16 major companies in the Japan Private Railway Association are expected to invest a total of 545.2 billion yen ($5.03 billion) during the year ending in March, up 14% from fiscal 2018, for a third straight year of record spending. Fourteen of the group's members intend to increase capital spending over last fiscal year.

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