The 1964 Tokyo Olympics opened the age of mass transit in the period of rapid economic growth in Japan. With the rapid increase of travel passenger, the traditional manual procedures for ticket sales could no longer keep up.
MARS, Japan’s first online real-time system, was the answer to the demands of the time. Thereafter MARS (Magnetic-electronic Automatic Reservation System) was a driving force in Japan’s history of system development.
Replacing mechanical calculation to computerized operations, MARS enabled fast, large-scale processing and multiple functions, while evolving from reliance on mainframe computers toward distributed systems.
MARS always at the forefront of each age, while looking ahead to the next generation of computing technologies. And today our eyes are on social infrastructure designed for even greater resilience and convenience.
The themes at the root of our pursuits are greater security and ease of use.
MARS continued evolving for 50 years.
MARS became the representative of the on-line real-time system and pulled history of system development of our country.
|1960||MARS 1||MARS 1 was introduced as a means to computerize a conventional manual reservation system based on telephones and log books. As a trial system it could handle 2,320 seats of four Kodama limited express trains on the old Tokaido line.|
|1964||MARS 101||This was the first system designed for practical use, featuring a built-in program. The system performed reservations and issued tickets immediately.|
|1965||MARS 102||Incorporating the functions of MARS 101, this system was developed in response to an increasing number of limited express trains causing schedule changes, and coincided with the opening of a new type of ticket reservation counter. The system could also make seat reservations and issue tickets for the new Shinkansen bullet trains that came into operation the year before.|
|1968||MARS 103||The CPU was changed from a dedicated computer to a general purpose computer for the first time. System size was expanded, with the CPU featuring an improved operating system. At the time, both MARS 101 and 102 continued in operation.|
|1972||MARS 105||Plans for an extension of the Shinkansen bullet train to Hakata and the new Shinkansen lines in the Tohoku and Joetsu regions were expected to increase reservation demand markedly in the coming years. In response, MARS 105 was developed to handle 700,000 seats with an expansion capability of 1.4 million seats. The biggest feature of this system was the extension of reservation booking up to two months in advance, the simultaneous issue of tickets, and an alternate train/route display for greater operator and passenger convenience. Moreover, consolidating ticket sales at counters and other work-simplification measures were achieved. In 1975, MARS 150 went online for reservations by touch-tone telephone, while MARS 202 was introduced for group and planned tickets.|
|1985||MARS 301||This system was developed to replace the aging MARS 105, 150, and 202 systems and to cope with various new business plans. The 301 system consisted of a Communication Control Subsystem (CCS), a Seat Reservation System (SRS), and a Data Management Subsystem (DMS). In addition to ordinary tickets, this integrated sales system was also capable of handling computer tickets, series tickets, special excursion tickets, and group/planned tickets.|
|1993||MARS 305||The MARS 305 was developed to ensure sufficient processing ability for the rapidly increasing traffic, and more flexibility to handle the business plans of individual JR travel companies and offices. The hardware configuration is centered around two super mainframe computers, with all the CCS, SRS, and DMS subsystems installed in one computer. In addition, it features a sensitive monitoring system, an integrated drive system to enable system switching in case of emergency, and the possibility of hot standby for each subsystem.|
|2004||MARS 501||To meet the rapidly diversifying customer requirements and telecommunications needs of the new information age, a radical revision of the system was implemented. MARS 501’s field of operation was rapidly expanded with the spread of vending machine type MV terminals and other new types of terminals and in response to JR passenger rail companies’ use of IC-card passenger tickets and commuter passes.|
|Today||MARS 501|| Even as we maintain an uptime rate of 99.999%,
we are constantly working to upgrade the system
functions. These upgrades are needed to handle
annual train schedule revisions and changes such
as new train line and station openings, along with
new services, from online sales by each of the JR
companies to ticketless boarding.
What’s more, to meet growing inbound tourism demand and achieve greater efficiency of station operations by JR companies, we are upgrading the ASSIST MARS functions that connect customers using MV terminals at local ticket offices to call center operators. We are also enhancing information provision functions making use of big data from past sales to support JR seat reservation planning.
Handles calls from 10,000 terminals
The average daily number of tickets sold about 1.9 million
Responding to 250 calls per second, issuing a ticket in 6 second
The number of transactions accommodated by MARS is increasing year by year.
Currently MARS 501 processes sales of around 1.9 million tickets per day on average. Even when requests arrive from approximately 10,000 terminals at the same time—including those for checking seat availability and selling tickets in the JR Ticket Offices, travel agents, and other locations—the system is able to respond to peaks of 250 calls per second, issuing tickets in 6 seconds on average.
What’s more, it has the scalability and flexibility to support needs for travel products as they become increasingly diverse and advanced.