Awkward Hankyu ticket behavior

※ This issue happened on 2nd of January 2017.

On the second of January, we had to go to Arima Onsen. In order to get there, I looked up the best routes on HyperDia. It returned the following result:

Arima Onsen connection

From Minatojima to Sannomiya, we had no problems (Portliner). Then we went to the ticket machine for Hankyu Line. To the best of my knowledge all the individual paths given at this schedule are operated by a Hankyu subcontractor. That’s also why Hankyu list one overall price and not individual prices for every subpath. I bought one ticket for 710 Yen. Martina got one for 500 Yen on the Blue Line.

Martina’s rationale: She is not sure whether she can pay all subpaths now and therefore takes a ticket of lower price. Before exiting, you can do a fare adjustment and pay the remaining 210 Yen. The Blue Line should be the one we take.

We both went from Kobe-Sannomiya to Shinkaichi. On the platform we had 2 exits - East and West, where both of them are distant in the same way. I decided to go for the East Exit, simply because more people left this way than by picking the West exit. We had to find the "Shintetsu Arima/Sanda line for SANDA" train. So we reached the East Exit and we wanted to leave passing the ticket checking machine. Martina plugged in her ticket. Accepted. Of 500 Yen, she only used ~210 Yen. As far as the remaining ticket is not returned, she lost some money this way. I plugged in my ticket. Denied. What the heck? I returned to the Fare Adjustment machine and plugged in my ticket. It spit the ticket out immediately; so no adjustment necessary. I tried again. Denied. I tried again. Denied. I did not care anymore. 3 minutes (in order to catch our next train) have passed and we didn’t even find the gate for the next train. I illegally hopped over ticket checking machine and we continued. The surveilllance camera has footage of me, but no staff member was there. The checking machine said "call intercom", but no phone (except an old commercial coin phone) was there and no staff member. After a short walk, we saw another ticket machine for entrance. "Arimaguchi" was one of its destinations, so we decided to take it. As far as I didn’t correctly leave the train platform, my ticket is expected to reject me using it for entrance. Indeed. Denied. So I bought another ticket for 640 Yen to go to Arimaguchi. Martina as well. As it turns out, we hopped on the train which went straight to Arimaguchi. So if we would have caught our train, we would first take a different train from Shinkaichi to Suzurandai, but in the following would have taken the same train. So overall we were in time. At Arimaguchi we changed train. At Arimaonsen, I left the platform using my 710 Yen ticket, which rejected my exit previously and Martina made a fare adjustment.

Okay… what is the conclusion?

  1. Tickets basically store a binary flag whether you are inside or outside the train platform. You cannot change/manipulate that.

  2. If you buy an expensive ticket, but leave earlier (hence at a lower destination price), you lose your ticket. This means you cannot take a short break at an intermediate station.

  3. This also holds true even though Fare Adjustment machines exist, which should adjust the ticket to your needs.

  4. I think my ticket knew that I was going to a different destination. Therefore it did not allow me to exit here. I guess we should have picked the West Exit. Then we could have changed trains without leaving the platform. However, no signs (whatsoever) indicated which is the "correct" exit for us. If so, the ticket decides on its own, whether you are allowed to leave here.

  5. I should take the same ticket like my girlfriend in order to run into the same problems.

  6. I would recommend to pay every subpath individually or adjust your fare before leaving the platform, but it takes its time to buy new tickets. This can be a problem if you have 3 minutes to change trains and you don’t know where the other gates are.

When I got here, the railway ticket system seemed… foreign. I didn’t know it before. Then it turned out to be pretty straightforward and convenient. But considering the behavior above, I reject to call it easy… a claim made by some people on reddit. I guess it makes sense if I am aware of the possible attack vectors in terms of fraud. But so far, I cannot tell you whether you will surely be able to exit a platform legally even if no staff member is around.

Strange. For this day, I (we) paid 640 (1280) Yen more to Hankyu then necessary.