Japan’s bullet trains, called Shinkansen, have a worldwide reputation as a fast, reliable and comfortable form of transport. Despite tickets being on the pricey side, sometimes the speed and comfort is worth the extra money when travelling around the country.

Bullet Train Luggage Rules to Change

However, passengers with particularly bulky suitcases will have to start thinking ahead when they travel via shinkansen, as Japan Rail will be starting a reservation system for large luggage, which will come into effect from the middle of May, 2020.

Of course, this new rule is being implemented with Tokyo 2020 in mind, when the amount of passengers and their baggage is sure to increase. The oversized bags will be put in a special storage area to keep them out of the way of other passengers and hopefully ensure that everyone has a smooth ride, even throughout the busy seasons.

When Do You Need to Reserve?

The new reservation rule will only apply to certain routes, namely the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines.

Luggage which has a combined length, width and height of over 160 cm will require a reservation. Anything smaller than that can be taken on the bullet trains as before.

Shinkansen Luggage Reservation System

Passengers travelling with bags over 160 cm can declare them by selecting the option for large luggage when reserving their seat at the booking office or online.

You won’t be charged any extra fees for this, but it does mean that you have to reserve a seat in advance. Shinkansen tickets can be bought as a reserved seat or unreserved, with the former costing a bit more. In effect, this new rule will take away the option of the cheaper unreserved seats from passengers with sizeable luggage.

But if you don’t reserve beforehand, you will incur a handling fee of 1000 yen, and presumably be forced to change any unreserved train tickets to the more expensive reserved seat type. So be sure to plan ahead if you’re travelling via Shinkansen any time after May 2020!

By - Jess.