Photo/Illutration Platform safety doors at a station in Chiba Prefecture (Provided by East Japan Railway Co.)

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) will become the first railway operator to hike passenger fares and use the funds to improve accessibility for the disabled.

The plan is to tack on 10 yen (8 cents) to a ticket for JR East’s 16 major lines, including the Yamanote, Chuo and Keihin-Tohoku lines. The increase will go into effect from spring 2023.

The transport ministry in December 2021 created a new system of adding fares to a ticket to pay for the installation of platform safety doors and elevators at train stations.

Ministry officials said JR East is the first railway company to announce a specific plan.

The company is seeking to install platform safety doors in 758 locations at 243 stations along its major lines in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area by the end of fiscal 2031.

The total estimated cost for such installations as well as adding elevators and restrooms accessible to the disabled as well as maintenance costs is about 590 billion yen. The revenues from the fare hike are expected to cover about half of that expense.

The government has established its own goals for improving accessibility at train stations for the disabled. The goal by fiscal 2025 is to install platform safety doors at 3,000 locations and elevators at all stations where at least 2,000 passengers a day use the elevator.

Small fare hikes in major urban areas are intended to cover part of the costs of such construction. The government plans to distribute subsidies to rural regions where it may not be possible to cover such expenses through fare hikes alone.

The fare hike planned by JR East is envisioned by the transport ministry as possible for the three major urban areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

(This article was written by Takashi Ogawa and Masanori Isobe.)