Messages for Railway Systems Based on 30 Years’ Experience of Japanese National Railway Privatization

Publication | May 2019

The railway system in Japan has changed considerably in the last 30 years.

We provide information for railway systems based on 30 years’ experience of Japanese railway privatization. First, we introduce the background, framework, and result of the Japanese National Railway reform, especially from the perspective of the former president of the JR Kyushu Railway Company. We explain the challenges, such as diversified businesses and employee capacity building, which the company faced during that time and the creation of the business foundation in preparation for the transformation into a private company. We also discuss the tasks of the railway, including the freight transport of the high-speed railway (the Shinkansen logistics), as well as the population decline and aging society in Japan and their relationship with the railway system. Last, we summarize the implications of Japan’s railway experience for a broader railway system. The high levels of safety and efficiency of Japan’s railway system are based on the railway culture (hard, soft, heart) and the Japanese nationality. The railway system is extremely important for long-term economic development. In addition, we introduce the PPET Railway-ology, which integrates philosophy, politics, economy, and technology. We crystallize years of railway experience and offer valuable lessons for the development of railway systems worldwide.


Additional Details

  • Governance and public sector management
  • Transport
  • Japan