While reading a railway hobby magazine in the mid-1960s, I was amazed to learn that “there are a lot of onboard sales on trains in Hokkaido, even on local trains”. There may be very few in-car sales now, not to mention ordinary trains, but express trains. That may be partly because in-flight sales have become less viable as a business due to faster speeds and fewer long-distance trains.
If the inside of the train is useless, buy it at the station…?
If you can’t get food and drinks on board, it’s only natural to consider getting them at or near the station. However, in recent years, we cannot take it lightly. Unsurprisingly, beverage vending machines can manage many things, but the same cannot be said for food.
A long time ago, in addition to stall stores, many stations also had various on-site sales such as soba noodles and udon noodles. In recent years, this number has decreased significantly. Leaving aside the major stations in the urban area, I feel that there are more and more cases where the business in the station disappears, and even if there are, there are convenience stores outside the ticket gates.
That way, if you walk out of the station, somehow… I would say. Of course, it depends on the location, but even at local representative stations where express trains stop frequently, there is no food or drink in front of the station, and the restaurants are even worse. This kind of thing still exists as there seem to be two main reasons.
One is congenital, the station is not in the city center. The JNR and JR groups, in particular, often have stations outside the city center. JR stations are located on the outskirts of the city, while competing private railway stations are located in the city center.
The other is the acquisition case, the station is not in the city center, and the shops are concentrated along the main road in the suburbs. This can easily happen in areas where people are assumed to drive.
Either way, where you don’t see a lot of people walking back and forth when you get out of the car, there are usually few or no shops. It will be like this. Even if you open a shop in a sparsely populated place, you can’t do business.
Regardless of the locals, it is easy for outsiders to think that “if it is an important railway location, such as a branch line or a train transfer, isn’t the area in front of the station also very prosperous?” ? ”However, in reality, there are unexpected situations. You might be surprised how many people fall into this trap and have trouble eating. Especially when using “Youth 18 Kippu” to transfer between ordinary trains, the tragedy that “Hungry on the way” does not work may happen.
Food safety when available
And then, while arguably a somewhat reactive solution, it becomes a “even if I’m not hungry at the time, I’ll secure food and drink where I can get it” story. I think it’s a troublesome time, but if demand is low and supply is cut off, some parts can’t do anything.
Furthermore, there is a sense that the sharp drop in traffic caused by the new coronavirus has spurred this trend. Recently, the utilization rate has rebounded sharply, but it does not mean that on-site business has returned to normal.
However, in addition to the problem of not being able to eat what you want, there may be disruptions to the itinerary due to inconvenient transportation and other reasons, so be sure to bring something that can fill your stomach with you. Maybe it’s a good idea. Although there is an iron law (?) of “food safety when the schedule is disrupted”, even if you try to purchase food after the schedule is disrupted, it may not be possible to purchase smoothly due to the above situation.
Transformation of a station store into a convenience store
Speaking of sales in stations, in the era of national railways, the so-called “kiosk” operated by the railway expressway was the main one. However, after the establishment of the JR Group, it was changed to operate under the protection of various JR passenger transport companies. It was originally developed from its own brand, but in recent years, many of them have changed to the form of displaying large convenience store signs. The only remaining brands are JR East’s “New Days” and JR East’s “Belmart”. The situation with private railway companies is similar.
What does this mean? If it’s just a question of whether the store is open or not, it doesn’t matter who the merchant is, but if you hang up the signboard of a large convenience store, the products you deal in will change. For example, Seven & i original products have started lining up at JR Hokkaido and JR West Station stores and convenience stores that have become 7-Eleven convenience stores.
In other words, you can buy the same products as the convenience stores in the city.
Another change is the distribution system e-money is now available. Even so, the only cases where “nanaco” can be used at station stores that have become 7-11 have really made an impact. For those who often use “nanaco” as well as the author himself, the number of stores where it can be used has increased.
On the other hand, transportation IC cards can be used at most convenience stores, so no particular company seems to be particularly affected.