[Update, March 12] Don't leave yourself stranded! Starting Saturday March 13, JR East will shorten operation hours so that last trains will depart up to 30 minutes earlier than usual. Similarly, first trains will begin later than usual as well, up to 30 minutes later. This is in part due to the lack of commuter demand during this pandemic time. It also allows the transport company to extend nighttime maintenance hours. With the new operating hours, maintenance time will increase from 200 minutes to about 240 to 270 minutes, which help expedite railway upgrades.
These are the last train times to keep in mind for JR East's busiest lines:
Yamanote Line: Last train travelling clockwise from Ikebukuro Station departs at 12.54am. The last train travelling anti-clockwise from Ikebukuro Station departs at 1.04am.
Saikyo Line: Last train going from Ikebukuro Station to Akabane Station departs Ikebukuro Station at 12.22am. The last train travelling in the opposite direction departs Akabane Station at 12.45am.
Keihin Tohoku Line: Last train from Omiya Station to Akabane Station departs at 12.15am. The last train going in the opposite direction from Ofuna Station to Isogo departs at 12.09am.
Chuo Rapid Line: The last train from Tokyo Station to Musashi-Koganei Station departs from Tokyo Station at 12.05am. The last train going from Musashi-Koganei Station in the opposite direction departs at 12.13am.
Chuo Sobu Line: The last train going from Mitaka Station to Nakano Station departs from Mitaka Station at 12.33am. The train going in the opposite direction from Chiba Station departs at 12.31am.
Keio Line: Last train going from Tokyo Station to Shin-Narashino departs from Tokyo Station at 12.24am. The last train going in the opposite direction departs from Soga Station at 12.20am.
To see all departure times, you can refer to the timetables available on JR East's official website (in Japanese only).
[September 4 2020] Tokyoites know that a night out is always overshadowed by the fear of missing the last train, as most usually depart shortly after midnight. From spring next year, we’ll have to be even more careful: East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has announced it will move up the departure time of the last trains on some major lines in Tokyo by about 30 minutes.
Train lines affected by the timetable revision include Tokyo’s Yamanote loop line, as well as the Chuo and Sobu lines, which are usually still in service past 1am.
The changes are being implemented because passenger numbers have drastically decreased at night due to the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Although night owls won’t be happy, the new rules will improve conditions for maintenance workers and railway line inspectors who work overnight. By having the last trains reach their final destinations by around 1am, as well as delaying the departure of the first trains in the morning, JR says workers will have more time to carry out their tasks and provide the highest level of safety for commuters.
West Japan Railway Company (JR West), the operator of JR trains in Japan’s Kansai region, has announced it will also bring forward the time of the last trains on its major routes from next spring.
If you’ve missed the last train in Tokyo, here are some ideas on where to spend the night until the next morning.
Remember to check our guide on going out safely in Tokyo.