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JR News: Upcoming features for a greater rail travel experience

JR News: Upcoming features for a greater rail travel experience

With tourism to Japan back in full swing, there is never a better time to plan your first or a repeat trip to Japan. JR East has recently announced a road map of news and updated services for tourists visiting Tokyo and getting around by train.

 

These services will be of great help in planning your itinerary, so let’s look at what’s being made available.

 

Itinerary search and recommendations

With various types of passes offered by JR EAST covering different areas to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which pass suits your itinerary the best.

 

"JR EAST Rail PASS Search” is an upcoming update where you can input your travel dates and destinations, and the service will recommend the most suitable pass for your trip. You will also be able to compare the value of a pass against individual tickets for the same journey.

 

The service will also let you visualise the destination’s location on the map, giving you a greater idea of its general location, especially if you are visiting that location for the first time.

 

Once you are ready, you will then be directed to JR-EAST Train Reservation, where you can purchase your pass, and enjoy all the functions, such as reserving seats 1 month before the departure date, and avoiding queues during pass collection via reserved seat ticketing machines with passport readers at the airport and major JR East stations.

 

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Upcoming "JR EAST Rail PASS Search” feature flow (Image credit: JR East)

 

This feature is set to launch in the summer of 2024.

 

Welcome Suica Mobile

 

An app version of the Welcome Suica will also be launched for iPhone and Apple Watch in English.

 

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New Welcome Suica Mobile app (Image credit: JR East)

 

The availability of the physical Welcome Suica at specific stations varies from time to time, but with this service, you can have a digital version issued and tied to your device before you even arrive in Japan, allowing you to head off to your destination right upon exiting the airport.

 

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Welcome Suica Mobile on your iPhone (Image credit: JR East)

 

On top of that, you can also charge additional value to the Welcome Suica Mobile using a credit card via Apple Pay, as existing physical cards can only be charged via cash.

 

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Charging Welcome Suica Mobile via Apple Pay (Image credit: JR East)

 

The expiry date of a Welcome Suica Mobile will be 180 days from the date of issue, which is greater than the current 28 days of the physical card.

 

The app will also provide information on sightseeing, train operations and availability, providing a one-stop solution for all your railway travel needs.

 

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Search travel information in-app in the near future (Image credit: JR East)

 

The Welcome Suica Mobile is scheduled to launch in Spring 2025, and will be a big help to visitors planning their trip next year.

 

More features will be rolled out on the app soon, so please keep a lookout for them when they are released.

 

Closing

Getting around Eastern Japan is set to be even more convenient in the future, with tools to aid in trip planning and the introduction of services that would allow you to get on a train more efficiently upon arriving in Japan. Please make use of the services when they are launched.

 

Header image credit: JR East

 

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