On 13 May, JR Central released station design plans for their upcoming Chuo Shinkansen running from Tokyo to Nagoya and later Osaka. In the words of JR, these stations were designed “not to rely on traditional styles” and “to boldly pursue functionality and efficiency.”

However, when the details emerged to a train station loving public, the reaction was less than enthusiastic with comments along the line of “too bold.”

The Chuo Shinkansen is called a “Linear Line” which is the Japanese term for a maglev (magnet propelled train). The new shinkansen will begin shuttling people between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027.  By 2045, the line should be extended to Osaka.

Here’s the floor plan for a station along this line:

And that’s it - just a set of elevators, escalators and stairs. There are also some lavatories, a gate, and a “facilities management office.” For Japanese people, this is a far cry from the bento stands, temperature controlled waiting areas, and station workers popping out of secret doors by the ticket machines that they’re used to.

In fact, JR said that there will be no full-time staff working at these types of stations.  This is all in an effort to reduce the burden of operating, property, and construction costs for local governments that the Chuo Shinkansen passes through.

Tickets for this line will be by reservation only, but the system by which tickets can be reserved and purchased hasn’t been sorted out yet.

Looking at the Spartan diagrams, netizens chimed in saying, “that’s too primitive to even be called a station.” Another net user commented that this was JR getting revenge on local governments.

“Local governments are supposed to pay 1/3 the construction costs of Shinkansen lines, but there is absolutely no burden on them for the Linear Chuo Shinkansen. I think that JR Central approached the governments, they resisted, and in the end we have stations with only platforms and a toilet.”

There is still a long time before the station opens in 14 years and JR had announced that these designs could be built upon. So, it could very well be that this is simply a negotiation tactic reminding the governments of the revenue and job creation a station brings to communities.

Source: JR Central 1, 2 (Japanese) via IT Media (Japanese)

Other angles of the proposed stations