Photo/IllutrationFree Wi-Fi service is accessible on the Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai)’s N700A series bullet train (Provided by Central Japan Railway Co.)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Free Wi-Fi will be offered on most Shinkansens across Japan by 2020 in time for the Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Japan Railway companies are mounting efforts to introduce the service in response to demand from foreign tourists and other passengers.

Work to roll out the service has already begun, with some routes already offering free wireless Internet. On the Tohoku Shinkansen line, a sleek E5 series bullet train has been Wi-Fi-installed since late May.

A 40-year-old male passenger on the E5 series train said of the news, “I always spend time on my smartphone (on the bullet train), so life will become more convenient.”

A total of 12 trains offer free Wi-Fi service for passengers on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line as of July 23, including E6 series as well as other E5 series trains, with stickers that read "Free Wi-Fi” on train cars’ inside walls indicating where it is available.

The service is available to all in exchange for registering their e-mail addresses.

Free Wi-Fi will be accessible on all bullet trains on the Tohoku, Hokuriku and Akita Shinkansen lines by September 2019, while it will be offered on all bullet trains on the Yamagata Shinkansen lines by March 2020.

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) plans to increase the number of trains with free Wi-Fi on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line in accordance with its introduction of new bullet trains.

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) will introduce a Wi-Fi-enabled N700A series bullet train set into the Tokaido Shinkansen Line from July 25. The operator is due to convert all 131 of its trains to make them Wi-Fi compatible by March 2020.

West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) and Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) are scheduled to start modifying their vehicles into Wi-Fi-friendly trains after this summer and to complete conversions by spring 2020.

Meanwhile, Hokkaido Railway Co. (JR Hokkaido) is set to start converting its Shinkansens to make them Wi-Fi friendly by the end of this fiscal year at the latest.

JR Hokkaido is expected to install all necessary communication equipment for the Seikan Tunnel, which has annoyed passengers with its 25-minute “dead zone” for mobile phone connections, by March 2019, and for the other tunnels on the Hokkaido Shinkansen Line by March 2020.