In 1987, Japanese National Railways (JNR), the government-owned body responsible for operating the railway network across Japan was privatised and divided into seven railway companies that together form the JR Group. In 1985, JNR made a loss of 1.8 trillion yen, but as of 2015, the JR Group makes a combined profit of 1 trillion yen per annum. Of the seven companies, JR Kyushu remains one of the few that consistently turns profits. The success of JR Kyushu is largely down to an innovative approach in which diversification has been embraced, whilst customer service has been placed at the core of the business model.
Nevertheless, JR Kyushu continues to face key challenges, and Mr. Ishii will address what he considers to be particularly pertinent amongst these issues, and how we can overcome them. A railway system is a key infrastructure for passenger and cargo transportation and affects the relationship between the urban and regional economies in a fundamental way. Based on 30 years’ experience of JNR privatization, he identifies challenges for expanding railway systems in Southeast Asia, and proposes how the region could cooperate better for mutual benefits.