Complaints prompt JR East to scrap ticket-office downsizing

Japan's largest rail operator has been shutting down many of its ticket counters. But now it says the downsizing plan is on hold, after customers complained of long lineups.

East Japan Railway President and CEO Kise Yoichi said: "We feel grave responsibility for inconveniencing our customers. We offer our deep apology."

JR East decided three years ago to slash 70 percent of its ticket offices by 2025, citing severe effects from the pandemic. More than half of its total 440 offices have since been scrapped.

But the restructuring has not been popular. JR East says customers have been reporting long waits at counters crowded with foreign tourists and commuters buying passes.

The company says it will maintain its current number of offices. It will also temporarily re-open about a dozen facilities that had been shuttered.