FUKUOKA (TR) – JR Kyushu will by 2016 operate its 100 biggest stations without any staff. The company, which plans to go public next year, is looking for ways to cut costs and improve efficiency.
The first 50 or so stations will go staffless this spring, according to the Asahi Shimbun (Jan. 17). Bullet trains and tourist routes, however, will maintain staff.
Last March, JR Kyushu logged a loss of 15.6 trillion yen on its rail operations, Net IB News (Jan. 7) wrote. The company aims to reduce the burdern to 12 trillion yen before its listing. According to the site, JR Kyushu is also looking to diversify its income streams as much as possible over the coming year.
Station buildings, eateries, retail, real estate and hotels are among the areas where the group is looking to improve operations.
Depopulation is among the problems the Kyushu company faces. As people move to cities and countryside locales empty, local lines have begun to feel the pinch. The company, however, is looking to trim fat by reducing station staff rather than closing the smaller local lines that are often essential to those clinging to the country life.
Many of the stations set to lose staff are in and around the Fukuoka city area.
JR Kyushu, which was privatized in 1987, has experienced some recent success with its new “Seven Star” luxury train tours. Tickets for the tour, which takes passengers to major sightseeing spots around the Southern Japan island, sell out months in advance.
So without staff, what happens to stations? One has solved the problem by making a goat stationmaster.