Touch your credit card when riding Enoden – Can this service ease tourism congestion?

Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden) will introduce the first service in the Tokyo metropolitan area that allows you to ride the trains using a credit card that supports contactless payments, and will be available at all stations from the first train on April 15, 2023 (Sat).

A scene using contactless payments at Enoden Enoshima Station (Katsumi/TOKYO STUDIO)
A scene using contactless payments at Enoden Enoshima Station (Katsumi/TOKYO STUDIO)

Good compatibility with tourists from overseas

In addition to conventional paper tickets and transportation IC cards, you will be able to ride the Enoden with your cards (credit, debit, prepaid) and smartphones that support contactless payments. All 15 stations, including unmanned stations, are equipped with pole-type or simplified ticket gates, and when you touch them with your card when getting on and off the train, the fare for the section you used will be automatically settled.

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Similar riding systems have already been introduced in public transportation systems in 615 cities around the world, and are becoming a global standard. No pre-registration or charging is required, and it can be said that it is a service that is particularly compatible with tourists from abroad who often do not have transportation IC cards such as PASMO and Suica.

In addition to Enoden, Sumitomo Mitsui Card (Headquarters: Koto City, Tokyo), Visa Worldwide Japan (Chiyoda City, Tokyo), JCB (Minato City, Tokyo), Nippon Signal (Chiyoda City, Tokyo) and QUADRAC (Minato City, Tokyo) shared roles and introduced the system jointly. Initially, it will support five credit brands: Visa, JCB, American Express, Diners Club, and Discover, and is preparing to add UnionPay and Mastercard by the end of 2023 (See the chart below for details such as the transit map of all Enoden stations where the ticket gates compatible with touch payments).

[Chart] The transit map of Enoden stations where the ticket gates compatible with touch payments

The first service in the Tokyo metropolitan area

Along the Enoden line, there are a lot of spots that are visited by many tourists from Japan and abroad, such as Kamakura and Enoshima, which are famous sightseeing spots, and Kamakura Kokomae Station, which is known as the setting of a popular animataion. On the other hand, there is also the problem of overtourism, with people queuing at ticket vending machines and station counters to purchase tickets, and depending on the season, it may take several tens of minutes to get on board. Chronic congestion on surrounding roads is also a long-standing problem in this area.

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Susumu Narai, president of Enoden, said, “When the COVID-19 was over and tourists were returning again, we were looking for measures to disperse tourists and promote the use of public transportation. We received help in resolving our company’s unique issues with new payment methods,” explaining the background to the introduction.

“By adding our railway as a means of transportation to the functions of credit cards that can be used at many stores, there is a possibility that we can work on revitalizing the local economy, such as by tying up with member stores,” he was also looking forward to further expansions.

In Japan, contactless payments have been introduced mainly by railway operators in western Japan, such as Nankai Electric Railway, Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau, and JR Kyushu. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, some highway and airport shuttle buses have started to introduce it, but the Enoden is the first railway example.

Masatoshi Ishizuka, who promotes the transportation business at Sumitomo Mitsui Card, said, “In Japan, 67 transportation operators in 28 prefectures have already introduced system for contactless payments. The business environment varies from operator to operator and region to region. For us, there is no such thing as west or east, and we would like to expand our services throughout Japan.”

Tokyu Corporation has also announced the introduction of touch payments starting in the summer of 2023 from the Den-en-toshi Line. The prevailing situation of “high west and low east” is gradually changing.

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