As the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging across Japan, a Shinkansen bullet train operator has started a trial run of an “office car” for passengers, in an effort to boost demand amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
During the trial which will last until February 26, passengers will be allowed to move to the “office car” from their seats freely and without extra fee on some Tohoku shinkansen trains between the capital Tokyo and other northern cities, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to the operator, East Japan Railway Co., passengers have their own seats in other cars and can use the “office car” for remote working.
Passengers on the designated car are able to talk on the phone, which is usually discouraged on the rest of the train.
They can also hold online meetings and sit with enough distance from others, said the operator.
On a bullet train that departed from Tokyo Station earlier this week, an announcement called for passengers to take part in the trial, with several passengers moving to the designated car with their laptops and started working.
“We believe ideas about office spaces will change as teleworking is more widely adopted,” said Hajime Nakamura, an official in charge of the trial run.
“We want Shinkansen passengers to use their travel time effectively,” Nakamura added.
The company said that the “office car” has a sound-masking system to protect the privacy and dampen the sound of conversations.
Meanwhile, telecommunication equipment such as remote routers are also available, said the company.
To curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, it requires mask-wearing and provides alcohol wipes. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the occupancy of JR East’s bullet trains fell sharply.
The operator plans to study demand and what equipment is needed during the trial, with the aim of building a communication environment comparable to that of a workplace.