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Japan bullet train conductor, female colleague punished over free ride in first-class car

A JR West logo is seen in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

OSAKA -- West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) has punished a Shinkansen bullet train conductor and a female colleague, after the conductor let her ride for free in a first-class car because he "wanted to talk to her while working."

The company did not release details on its punishment of the conductor, who is in his 50s, and the female colleague, an attendant in her 30s, following the woman's round trip between Shin-Osaka and Okayama stations in western Japan.

JR West said the conductor allowed the woman to board a first-class Green Car on the Hikari 473 bullet train that departed from Shin-Osaka at 4:02 p.m. on Oct. 21. The pair got out of the train together at Okayama Station, and the woman boarded the Hikari 482 back to Shin-Osaka about two hours later without going outside the ticket gates in Okayama.

The woman had gotten onto the bullet train platform using a platform ticket. Since this kind of ticket expires after 2 hours, the conductor issued a railway ticket and an express ticket for the woman from Shin-Kobe to Shin-Osaka, which the woman could use to pass back through the gates at Shin-Osaka.

When approached for comment, a JR West representative said, "It was the kind of behavior that shouldn't happen, so we issued strict punishment. We apologize for causing distrust among users." The company said it did not make a public announcement because the incident did not cause any safety problems, and because no third parties had been inconvenienced.

(Japanese original by Masaki Takahashi, Osaka City News Department)

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