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Say I have a JR West Kansai–Hiroshima Area Pass, which covers travel between Kurashiki and Sōja, and I take the train from Kurashiki to Izumo(shi), which goes through Sōja.

Is it necessary that I either disembark and exit ticket gates at Sōja (where the pass’s validity zone ends) or buy a full ticket from Kurashiki to Izumoshi?

Or can I buy a fare ticket from only Sōja to Izumoshi, embark at Kurashiki, ride all the way to Izumoshi, disembark and talk to station staff at Izumoshi to let me out (explaining that the Kurashiki–Sōja section is covered by my pass)? Can I assume that automatic gates won’t work because I can’t activate the ticket at Kurashiki?

Do the same rules apply to limited express tickets?

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What I would do is ask the station staff manning the gate at Kurashiki, explain that you are going to Izumoshi and show your pass. It is likely he can issue you a ticket that will take you all the way to Izumoshi and ask for the fare difference between Soja and Izumoshi. I'm pretty sure the staff are used to cases like yours.

Of course, you could exit Soja and reenter with a separate paid ticket (or use an IC card) to carry on. Or you could just go straight to Izumoshi from Kurashiki and talk with the staff there, and he will charge you the difference in fare. But paying ahead gives you peace of mind and lets you enjoy your trip more.

As for limited express tickets, according to the page you linked, the area pass does not cover limited express tickets, and you will be required to purchase one separately. So if you do, you will have paid for the full Kurashiki-Izumoshi trip anyway. (Note that you don't need to buy a limited express ticket if you're using the non-reserved seating).

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  • The pass covers limited express and shinkansen, but only nonreserved seats. Although you may be right that it may not cover this particular train: I’ll need to check! For a reserved seat, a full-price reserved-seat limited express ticket must be added, but nonreserved seats can be used freely. Generally though, even nonreserved seats on limited express trains require limited express tickets (which are cheaper than reserved-seat ones). So if I were to take a nonreserved seat on a limited express from Kurashiki to Izumo, I’d need a limited express ticket for at least the Sōja–Izumo section. – Chortos-2 Jul 17 at 13:27
  • Anyway, yep, that’s what I’m gonna do if there’s no definitive answer (and if changes in my itinerary don’t eliminate this trip altogether). But this may affect the usefulness of the pass itself and/or make other routes to Izumo more/less attractive, so I was hoping that I could know this before committing to any specific trip plan. – Chortos-2 Jul 17 at 13:36
  • @Chortos-2 Unfortunately, I've never ran into this particular situation, so all I can base my answer is off of similar experiences with the Japanese railway system.That being said, I hope you enjoy your trip (or actually are able to go, with the pandemic still not toning down). – Jimmy Jul 18 at 0:17
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You may travel without disembarking and pay for only the uncovered section (at least with JR West)

  • You do not need to disembark.
  • You must buy extra tickets for only the section not covered by the pass.
  • You must exit the destination station via the manned gate and show your rail pass together with your tickets.
  • It’s not clear whether the manned gate must be used at the origin, but it should be safe to use it anyway.
  • For limited express, the tickets must be bought before boarding the train.
  • For a regular train, you can still buy the tickets before boarding, but the train may also be boarded without the extra ticket and the missing fare paid at the destination (although this might be possible only if the origin station is within the pass validity area).

Also, contrary to the doubts expressed by several users, this particular pass is indeed valid for all limited express trains within its overall validity area, rather than only the several examples named on the website.

Full story and source

This was intended to be a general question with a specific example, with the hope that the policy is publicly documented somewhere for the whole JR group or for each company separately. Unfortunately, this seems to not be the case, as no such policy has been produced in an answer.

I ended up submitting a specific inquiry using a form on JR West’s English-language website. I asked:

<The pass or ticket name you would like to ask> Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass

Is this pass valid on all limited express trains or only the ones named on the pass description page (Haruka, Kuroshio, Thunderbird, Kounotori, Super Hakuto)?

Is it possible to board a train on a station within the pass area (e. g. Kurashiki), ride it all the way to a station outside the area (e. g. Matsue), and pay only for the portion not covered by the pass? What is the correct procedure for doing this on a regular train? What is the correct procedure for doing this on a limited express train? (For example: should I simply buy a ticket from Soja to Matsue? Should I visit the green window at Kurashiki? How do I exit the station gates at Matsue?)

I got a response by email in less than a day. The relevant excerpt (in good English, unedited except to add emphasis):

We would like to inform you that the Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass is valid for all Ltd. Exp. trains (non-reserved seat) in the valid area and the Shinkansen (non-reserved seat) between Hiroshima and Shin-Osaka.

As you know, “Matsue” is not included in the valid area of the Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass. As for your journey from Kurashiki to Matsue with this rail pass, you are required to pay for the uncovered portion additionally.

For example, if you are planning to take the Ltd. Exp. YAKUMO (non-reserved seat) from Kurashiki to Matsue, you need to purchase the additional tickets at the JR-WEST ticket office before you take the train. The price for the additional tickets is 5,280 JPY/ one-way per adult. The breakdown is as follows.
-Basic fare ticket from Soja to Matsue : 3,080 JPY
-Ltd. Exp. ticket for a non-reserved seat from Soja to Matsue : 2,200 JPY

When you purchase the additional tickets, please make sure to show your rail pass.
At Matsue station, please use the manned ticket gate to show them.

On the other hand, if you just take Local trains from Kurashiki to Matsue, the additional fare you need to pay is 3,080 JPY (basic fare ticket from Soja to Matsue )/ one-way per adult. In this case, you can pay for the fare when you arrive at Matsue station. Please visit the manned ticket gate and present your rail pass to our staff.

(They also recommend the San’in–Okayama Area Pass as it is cheaper than the extra tickets for a one-way limited express, in addition to the above explanation, which is much appreciated.)

This is not the fully general answer I had originally hoped for, but it very clearly explains the situation for the particular Kansai–Hiroshima pass, and I’m going to assume the same policy applies to other passes. However, it may be wise to send a similar inquiry if another train company’s pass is involved.

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You may also consider buying the Sanyo-San'in Area Pass instead.

It's ¥5,700 more expensive, but in return:

  • 2 more days of validity, i.e. 7 days in total
  • Izumoshi is included in the area
  • Seat reservations without additional fares

The fare of a single, one-way, non-reservation seats, limited express train from Soja to Izumoshi is ¥5,610. It appears that the more expensive pass might be a better deal, also with less hassle.

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I think the answer is actually "yes, because you can't use your pass for the limited express".

If you are going to Izumoshi, then you will be travelling on the Hakubi Line, and use the Limited Express "Yakumo". However, the page of the Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass says that the limited express trains covered are:

Non-reserved seats on Express Trains 'HARUKA, KUROSHIO, THUNDERBIRD, KOUNOTORI, SUPER HAKUTO (Kyoto⇔Kamigori) etc.'

Apparently this pass doesn't cover travel on the Yakumo. So the only option is to disembark at Soja and change to the Limited Express there.

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  • This was intended as a general question, but thanks! As for this specific pass, it is valid for all limited express trains within the area; the named ones are just examples. – Chortos-2 Aug 19 at 20:48
  • Problem is Yakumo is probably not within the area (because it goes through the out-of-area Hakubi Line). But to be sure just ask the Midori-no-madoguchi – xuq01 Aug 20 at 0:56
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    First, I definitely appreciate that you’re trying to help, thanks! But in my understanding the map shows the Hakubi line up to Soja is within the area. See also my new answer where I sent an online inquiry to JR West and they confirmed this. – Chortos-2 Aug 20 at 11:24
  • See also the detailed map, which shows this more clearly. – Chortos-2 Aug 20 at 11:26
  • I see - then you should follow official instructions! – xuq01 Aug 20 at 14:06

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