Shinkansen bullet trains start shipping freight

Japan's Shinkansen bullet trains have started using empty passenger seats to ship freight as the pandemic continues to undermine passenger demand.

The specialty freight service has been launched by Hokkaido Railway Company along with the delivery giant Sagawa Express.

The first shipment consisted of four boxes placed on seats from a station on the northern island of Hokkaido. It left on Wednesday evening, passing through an undersea tunnel bound for a station in Aomori Prefecture. After arriving, the goods were to be delivered in the prefecture.

The company plans to operate one train each weekday for the service.

Shinkansen trains can reduce shipment time to Aomori by about 6 hours compared to conventional ferry service.
The company hopes this will be a new source of revenue as passenger numbers remain reduced.