Tokyo: 9th World Congress on High Speed Rail, an international conference of railway business representatives, experts and policymakers, started Tuesday in Tokyo. It offers East Japan Railway, known as JR East, a chance to add extra oomph to its Shinkansen bullet train export drive.
JR East is organizing the four-day conference, which is being held in Japan for the first time, jointly with the International Union of Railways.
Japan’s shinkansen is internationally renowned because of its safety and reliability. It has, however, only been exported only to Taiwan so far.
Aiming to raise interest, JR East is tweaking its Shinkansen marketing strategy. It will put greater emphasis on operation and maintenance services tailored to the needs of emerging countries.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the event, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pointed to the huge growth potential of the international high-speed railway market. “More than 20 countries have high-speed rail plans, including the U.S., Southeast Asian countries and India,” he said. “We want Shinkansen technology to spread widely overseas.”
JR East’s efforts to export the Shinkansen system have been mostly eclipsed by Central Japan Railway’s (JR Tokai) high-profile, government-supported campaign to sell its magnetic-levitation train technology to the U.S.
But that does not mean JR East has been less eager about Shinkansen exports. The Tokyo-based railway company has been working in various countries to export its high-speed rail technology and services. For example, it conducted a feasibility study in India.
With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line this spring, JR East’s expansion plans in Japan have run their course. The rail operator now urgently needs to expand overseas.
Tetsuro Tomita, president of JR East, stressed at a Tuesday news conference that his company will try harder to export the broad range of services needed to ensure safe and accurate high-speed railway operations, along with equipment and facilities. “We will launch a new marketing campaign to sell our comprehensive capabilities,” he said.