JTrains’ Douso has once again pointed out something to me, which makes me wonder if the East Japan Railway Company really cares about its foreign visitors!
As you know already, several of JR East’s services have been disrupted as a result of March 11th’s Earthquake and Tsunami. A reduced amount of available power in the Tokyo area is forcing many companies to conserve. JR and Keisei are doing that by reducing the number of premium train services that run out of Narita Airport – those being the Narita Express and Skyliner respectively.
Keisei has a PDF flyer on their website listing timings for the Skyliner service in English and several other languages, which is how it’s keeping its visitors informed about the changes in their service.
If you want to use the Narita Express and look up their timetables, you can generally do so by going to the JREast Shinkansen Reservation website.
But alas, the Narita Express timetable, as well as the timetables for several other services such as the Tohoku Shinkansen, are all gone.
So now if you speak English, you have only two options available to find out the schedules of the trains: Either wait until you travel to Japan and call JR East’s English Helpline during regular business hours, or learn enough Japanese to understand the revised timetables, which are only available on the Japanese JR East website.
To my knowledge, the only place where you can look up timetables in English is Jorudan, which has implemented all revised timetables in its Train Route Finder search engine.
But what about JR East’s website, which used to list all of the Narita Express trains in an easy-to-read fashion on their English website? In my opinion, and I’m sure in Douso’s too, the lack of English information provided by JR East themselves is frustrating, and not fair.
For those interested in finding out when the Narita Express trains operate, I’ll be happy to offer some translations. So be sure you have the Japanese Language fonts installed in your browser!
The official Narita Express timetables, in Japanese, are located here: http://www.jreast.co.jp/railway/pdf/nex_timetable.pdf Scroll down this document to the second page, where you will see the timetables for the Narita Express.
The top of the page lists trains traveling TO the airport, and the bottom of the page lists trains FROM the airport. All of the Narita Express’ currently suspended services are reflected here.
Let’s go to the bottom half of the page and read the stations listed at the top row, going from left to right:
成田空港 Narita Aiport (Terminal 1)
空港第二ビル Airport Terminal 2
成田 Narita (Narita City)
Some services, as you can see, run in two sections. Take Train #16 for example. Once it reaches Tokyo, the train splits, with one section going to Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, and the other going to Shinagawa, Musashi-Kosugi and Yokohama. Services similarly combine at the top of the page, for trains going TO Narita Airport.
If you see a gray bar with something like this
That means that particular service is NOT operating. 運休 is pronounced “Unkyuu”, which in Japanese is used to signify suspended train service.
If you see a blue bar with something like this
That means the section that normally operates between Tokyo and Shinjuku is suspended. You will see this notation next to a few other trains, with some other cities listed.
I hope this helps people who want to use the Narita Express for travel.
The Tohoku Shinkansen is expected to return to normal about a month from now, and their special timetable, like the Narita Express timetable, is ONLY available in Japanese right now. If enough people want me to explain the Tohoku Shinkansen services, or any other service not listed on JR East’s English website, I’ll be glad to write another post about it when time permits 🙂 Or you can go to Jorudan’s website to look up those times.