Competition With Air
Compared with air transport, the Shinkansen has several advantages, including scheduling frequency and flexibility, punctual operation, comfortable seats, and convenient city-center terminals.
The Shinkansen system and airlines often compete with each other for the business of city-to-city domestic travelers. If the Shinkansen connects two cities in less than three hours, most passengers choose the Shinkansen, but if it takes more than four hours by Shinkansen, the majority choose air. Some examples are as follows.
- Tokyo - Nagoya (342 km), Tokyo – Sendai (325 km), Tokyo – Hanamaki (Morioka) (496 km), Tokyo – Niigata (300 km): Once there was air service between these cities, but it was abolished after Shinkansen service started. Shinkansen runs between these cities in about two hours or less.
- Tokyo – Osaka (515 km): Shinkansen is dominant because of fast (2 hours and 30 minutes) and frequent service (up to every 10 minutes by Nozomi); however, air travel has a certain share (about 20 – 30 percent).
- Tokyo – Okayama (676 km), Tokyo - Hiroshima (821 km): Shinkansen and air travel are mostly even in popularity. The Shinkansen takes about three to four hours and there are Nozomi trains every 30 minutes, but airlines may provide cheaper fares, attracting many passengers.
- Tokyo – Fukuoka (1,069 km): The Shinkansen takes about five hours even with the fastest Nozomi, and most people choose air. Fukuoka (Itatsuke) Airport is near to the CBD - Tenjin, and Fukuoka City Subway Line 1 connects the Airport and Tenjin, via Hakata Station.
- Osaka – Fukuoka (554 km): One of the most competitive sections. The Shinkansen takes about two and half hours by Nozomi, and JR West operates its own Hikari Rail Star trains twice an hour, taking about 2 hours and 40 minutes between the two cities.
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