The snack cart has long been a familiar sight on the bullet train service that runs between Tokyo and Osaka.
Since the Tokaido Shinkansen route opened in 1964, hungry and thirsty passengers have been able to buy sandwiches, hot coffee, beer, bento lunch boxes, snacks and ice creams from carts pushed by super polite staff through the train cars.
The snack cart even played a starring role — with Brad Pitt — in the 2022 movie Bullet Train.
But now the snack cart’s days are over according to JR Central, who announced on August 8th that there will be no more in-car sales after October 31st. JR Central have blamed the end of the service on staff shortages, and also on an increase in the number of people who bring their own meals and refreshments onto the train.
These days, it seems a lot of people prefer to buy their food at station shops before boarding the train — and this has badly affected snack cart sales. In-car sales in 2018 had fallen to half of what they were a decade before, the railway company said.
Of course, people who have time before their journey will still be able to buy their sandwiches or bento lunch boxes at station shops. And two of the most popular snack cart products, ice cream and hot coffee, will still be available from new vending machines on the Shinkansen platforms.
JR Central have also promised a new service for first class Green Car passengers, who will be able to use their smartphones to read a QR code on their seats. This will take them to a webpage where they will be able to order food and drinks, and train staff will then deliver their order to their seats.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos by sx10is/pixta (2), VTT Studio/pixta (3). All rights reserved.