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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:07 AM   #2141
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JR East to switch to next-generation truncated dome tiles
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/...990070619.html

Quote:
In response to an accident at Mejiro Station on the JR Yamanote Line in Toshima Ward, Tōkyō Prefecture on January 16 in which a blind man fell off the platform and onto the tracks and was killed, JR East announced on January 28 that it will conduct a field study of existing truncated dome tiles at 330 stations under its jurisdiction. Starting in the early morning of January 29, the railway began soil tests and measurements at the scene of the accident at Mejiro Station in order to switch out the tiles with newer types that are easier to detect.

The stations in the Greater Tōkyō area selected as part of the field study include 268 stations with high levels of train traffic, stations serving facilities for the visually impaired, and Shinkansen station stops. The railway has already begun surveys since January 17, determining the level of detection and gradually switching out truncated dome tiles that have been worn down or filled in, making them hard to detect.

The current truncated dome tiles at Mejiro Station (30 cm long by 30 cm wide, 36 truncated domes) were installed in accordance with the barrier-free improvements guidelines enacted in March 1994. The replacement tiles feature new types identified in the new guidelines from August 2001.

Compared to existing tiles, the new tiles are 10 cm longer and feature 11 fewer truncated domes, as well as an extruded line along the tile’s length that makes it easier to distinguish distance from the platform edge. In addition, the railway will make the height of the platform surface and the truncated domes uniform, improving ease of detection.
Old-type tiles (with 36 domes) and new-type tiles (with 25 domes).


Source: Mainichi Shimbun

TBS news report (2011.01.28):

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:08 AM   #2142
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International standards for truncated dome tiles could come soon
http://mainichi.jp/select/today/news...40046000c.html

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It appears that an international standard for truncated dome tiles, which help visually-impaired pedestrians—including those who are totally blind, partially blind, or color blind—may be finalized by year’s end based on a proposal by Japan. The plan includes provisions for tile color and placement—which have yet to be made uniform ven within Japan, the first country to introduce the tiles 44 years ago—and there is anticipation that the news will serve as an “impetus for standardization within Japan.” After an accident in which a blind man at JR Mejiro Station (Tōkyō) fell off the platform and onto the tracks and was killed, there are doubts being raised once more regarding the development of social infrastructure to assist the visually impaired when outside the home, but a special committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will make a decision on a final plan this fall.

The world’s first truncated dome tiles were installed in Okayama Prefecture in 1967. Research continued at the former Japanese National Railways and universities, and in 2001 a Japanese Industrial Standard was formalized. Combinations of two different tile patterns—one with four lines indicating travel direction and another with 25 truncated domes to indicate caution on foot—have become the de facto design throughout Japan, but there is no uniformity regarding tile color. Meanwhile, some countries overseas have as many as seven different truncated dome patterns, and there is a variety of tile shapes and placements.

According to independent administrative corporation National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE), which serves as the lead agency for the ISO special committee, even the ISO has been pushing for each country to adopt their own models. While discussions regarding standards began in the 1980s, they were suspended on two occasions. A sense of crisis among involved countries since developed, with fear that negotiations “could break down completely,” but at a June 2010 meeting of the special committee, Japan presented a draft plan based on the JIS standard that includes provisions for items not included in the JIS, including colors that are distinguishable from the surroundings, materials quality, and placement patterns. Other countries appear to be willing to align together with the plan, and an international standard could be established as soon as this year.

The visually impaired within Japan are eagerly awaiting the news.

Ichiyanagi Naoharu (58) serves as the Braille Publishing Office section chief of the Japan Federation of the Blind (HQ: Shinjuku Ward, Tōkyō), a social welfare corporation. Ichiyanagi suffers from acute visual impairment, and in late 2010 found himself in grave danger when he almost walked into the traffic lane. The reason was that the truncated dome tiles on the sidewalk switched from yellow to a color similar to the asphalt in the surrounding area. “If it was a different color from the surroundings, I would have been able to distinguish it. I’m hoping they make them the same standard as soon as possible,” says Ichiyanagi.

Similar-colored tiles began increasing in number together with the increase in awareness of aesthetics starting in the 1980s. With the enactment of the New Accessibility Law in 2000, yellow become the frequent color of choice, but there are still many tiles colored similar to asphalt or the surrounding pavement.

If an international standard is established, it’s hoped that there will be impetus for standardization within Japan, helping to eliminate these problems. NITE chief examiner Mitani Seiji says, “If we can agree, then this will be a huge step forward for the visually impaired all across the world.”
Not relating exclusively to transit, but I figured this was a nice supplementary article to the other one about JR East replacing the truncated dome tiles at some of its stations.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:09 AM   #2143
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JR West announces 14-story tower outside West Exit at Okayama Station
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/oka...OYT8T01078.htm

Quote:
On January 24, JR West’s Okayama Branch Office announced that one of its group companies, San’yō SC Development, will construct a 14-story Okayama Station West Exit Building (provisional name) at the West Exit of Okayama Station in Ekimotomachi, Kita Ward, Okayama City. The building is slated for a spring 2012 opening, with the lower floors housing retail facilities and the upper floors a business hotel. With the completion of the building, the improvements at the station will also be complete, giving birth to a new “face” for Okayama, the prefectural capital and the hub of transport in the Chūgoku / Shikoku regions.

According to the details of the development plan released on January 24, groundbreaking for the West Exit Building will take place on February 2, on land adjacent to the west side of the Southern Annex of Sun Station Terrace Okayama. The building will be directly connected to the second floor of the train station and the Southern Annex of Sun Station Terrace Okayama. The floor area of the building will be approx. 8,900 sq m, and the total project cost is approx. 2.4 billion.

The first floor will house the disaster prevention center, the second through fourth floors a retail facility, and the fifth floor and above a business hotel (approx. 250 rooms) managed by West Japan Railway Daily Service Net Co., Ltd. The lineup of fashion shops, restaurants, and other tenant stores in the retail facility is still being finalized, but the railway says it is considering stores with a high potential to attract customers, including stores making their first entry into Okayama Prefecture. At a press conference, Hasegawa Ichirō, chief of the railway’s Okayama Branch Office, said, “We are hoping that construction of the building will lead to vitality across all of Okayama City.”

In an effort to “improve the attractiveness of the entire station,” the Okayama Branch Office commenced station improvements with related companies in 2004. In October 2006, an east-west transfer passage, ticketing entrance, and Sun Station Terrace Okayama’s Southern Annex were completed on the second floor of the station, followed by Sun Station Terrace Okayama’s North Annex and Sun Festa Okayama. In April 2010, a bus terminal was completed at the station’s West Exit. Eyes were then focused on the reuse plan for a site (approx. 2,700 sq m) on the south side of the passage.

Watanabe Kazuko (70), a housewife living in a condominium near the station’s West Exit, says, “I’m happy this project will bring some vitality.” Third-year university student Yoshitani Yumi (20) from Ima, Kita Ward, Okayama City, who primarily uses retail facilities at the station’s East Exit when shopping, was anxiously awaiting the building: “If there are some new fashion shops and other stores, I’d love to go.”

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:10 AM   #2144
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Sannomiya Station tour

A short tour of the area surrounding Sannomiya Station, Kōbe’s main terminal. Trains operated by JR West, Hankyū, Hanshin, Kōbe New Transit, and the Kōbe Municipal Subway all serve this station. After recent news of plans to build a new terminal building, this area could change substantially in a few years.
Source: http://blog.livedoor.jp/jzs160_vertex/

The site is currently occupied by the Sannomiya Terminal Building and serves as the Central Exit for the station. The Port Liner (Kōbe New Transit) station building is adjacent to the site on the east side. The Sannomiya Terminal Building was constructed in 1980 and is relatively small-scale… The 27-story Acty Ōsaka at JR Ōsaka Station would actually open three years later in 1983 as the tallest station tenant building in Japan. If they had built the Sannomiya Terminal Building larger in 1980, then we may only have seen a renovation or seismic retrofit.



The station plaza on this side of the station is pretty barren, with a small parking lot occupying the center. They’ve already said they are considering redesigning the station plaza, so hopefully they’ll do some creative things here. Space is limited, but they could underground some of the functions and expand the pedestrian deck connecting to the station.



Port Liner tracks. Apparently, when they were designing the Port Liner, they considered the possibility that the Port Liner’s Sannomiya Station would be relocated here behind Mint Kōbe (on the left), allowing for a possible extension of the Port Liner north to Shin-Kōbe Station. Of course, this would present problems for access to the Port Liner from the rest of the train lines at Sannomiya. The current situation isn’t exactly great either, though, given that many of the Port Liner’s passengers are Kōbe Airport users and have to go down and back up when transferring at Sannomiya.



The East Exit of the station has this busy pedestrian scramble, as well as the terminal for Shinki Bus services underneath the elevated viaduct at center. Up above is the Port Liner curve into Sannomiya Station. There is also the potential for this area to be the gateway to a large redevelopment currently under construction just 100 m away in Asahi-dōri 4-chōme—a 54-story (190 m) mixed-use residential, office, hotel, and retail tower that will be the tallest in Hyōgo Prefecture. If they extend the Port Line north, there’s also some interesting potential to build a new Port Liner Sannomiya Station directly above the JR platforms, reinforcing a new “East Exit” at the station.



West Exit. This is an extremely busy area both for vehicles and pedestrians, so it will be interesting to see what they choose to do here. A lot also depends on other operators, such as Hankyū (whose station building is on the left, out of view) and Hanshin (whose station building peeks in from the bottom right corner). Perhaps as JR reveals more information regarding its plans for Sannomiya Station, we may see Hankyū and Hanshin respond by proposing some of their own projects, in the same way that there is activity from all fronts at Ōsaka / Umeda.



Better view of the overall site. At left is the building to be replaced, while to the right is Mint Kōbe. At ground level, continuing on into the distance on the right side is the construction site for the improvements to Hanshin Sannomiya Station.



Perhaps we may also see some redevelopment in the area surrounding the station… Parcels like this one immediately outside the station are prime locations.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:10 AM   #2145
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Kansai private railways look to boost ridership through improvements to limited express services
http://www.nikkei.com/news/local/art...F2F2F2F2F2F2F2

Quote:
Kinki Region railway operators are rushing to shore up operations with the aim of increasing ridership on limited express trains. Kinki Nippon Railroad (Kintetsu Corporation) will refurbish its “Vista Car” 30000 series bi-level cars to increase interior comfort, while Nankai Electric Railway will introduce new limited express trains with air purifiers this fall. With the government planning to continue weekend expressway discounts after April, railway operators particularly hard hit on long-distance lines are devising strategies to capture regular customers.

Kintetsu will redesign seats on the downstairs level of Vista Cars as “group-only” seats similar to private rooms, sectioned off with partitions. The railway will refurbish the interior to look like the inside of a yacht, creating an easy-to-relax space inside the train. Groups of at least three passengers riding for the same trip ends will be able to use the space, with seats for a maximum of five persons.

After incorporating the changes into one train starting in April of last year as part of a trial program, Kintetsu Business Planning Department chief Naitō Hiroyuki says, “We’ve earned high praise for the seats primarily from long-distance passengers.” The railway will take a big step by implementing the same refurbishment to the remaining 14 trains by the end of March of this year. The total investment in the program is forecasted at approx. 120 million.

In addition to renovating the exterior of both Sakura Liner trains (running primarily on the Minami-Ōsaka Line) in a design reminiscent of Yoshino sakura (cherry blossoms), the railway will use wooden materials in the train interior to create a feeling of elegance. One of the two trains is aiming to debut in revenue service in mid-April.

Meanwhile, Nankai Electric Railway will also be introducing new 12000 series trains onto the Southern limited express running on the Nankai Main Line. The railway will become the first to incorporate the functionality of Sharp’s Plasmacluster air purifying technology into trains, enhancing interior comfort.

Kintetsu will also be shuffling things around in its fare structure as well. The railway will set the premium for the special Deluxe Cars on its Urban Liner and Ise ‒ Shima Liner limited expresses from 200 to 500, depending on the travel distance. In the past, a flat premium of 410 was added to all fares, but Kintetsu has now pushed forward with a reduction in fares for mid- and short-distance trips less than 180 km long in an effort to boost ridership.

By 2013, the railway will also revamp the existing reservation system, attracting demand by reducing limited express fares based on the number of seats available and offering early-bird discounts. For members of the railway’s membership service, Naitō says the railway plans to “increase passenger convenience, including allowing users to change their seat reservations any number of times.”

As a result of the 1300th Anniversary of Heijō-kyō Capital held in Nara Prefecture last year, ridership on limited expresses between Kyōto and Kintetsu Nara was doing well. However, the government plans to continue the 1,000 maximum expressway toll on weekends, originally slated to be discontinued at the end of March, after April. Given how sensitive ridership on limited expresses is to general economic trends, the railway hopes to capture regular customers and boost its farebox revenues.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:12 AM   #2146
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Increased bus service to Ibaraki Airport takes effect February
http://www.ibaraki-np.co.jp/news/new...12962258902185

Quote:
On January 28, Kantō Railway (HQ: Tsuchiura City) announced that it would increase the number of trips on shuttle buses linking Ibaraki Airport with JR Mito Station and Tsukuba Station on the Tsukuba Express (TX) and express buses between Ibaraki Airport and Tōkyō starting February 1. The enhanced service is coordinated with the launch of Skymark flights to Nagoya and Sapporo and designed to increase convenience for airport users.

According to the proposed service plan, the additional shuttle buses would be operated on two lines: the Mito Line and the Tsukuba Line. The shuttle bus schedules on both lines are timed for departures of regularly-scheduled Asiana and Skymark flights. The current two daily trips (two roundtrips) will be increased to three daily trips (three roundtrips).

The Mito Line runs from the South Exit at Mito Station to the airport via the North Kantō Expressway and East Kantō Expressway, taking approx. 40 minutes. The Tsukuba Line runs from Tsukuba Station, through Tsukuba City、 and to the airport via the Jōban Expressway. The journey takes approx. one hour.

The express bus to Tōkyō will be increased from the current three daily trips (three roundtrips) to four daily trips (four roundtrips), improving access to central Tōkyō. The route travels from the Yaesu Exit at Tōkyō Station via the Metropolitan Expressway and Jōban Expressway to Ibaraki Airport, taking approx. two and a half hours.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:12 AM   #2147
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Yokohama Municipal Subway Blue Line extension studies to begin
http://news.kanaloco.jp/localnews/article/1101270062/

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In FY2011, Yokohama City will commence project studies for the proposed extension of the Yokohama Municipal Subway Line 3 (Blue Line), which was identified by the Transport Policy Council as appropriate for an opening by 2015. The extension from Azamino to Shin-Yurigaoka extends across both Yokohama City and Kawasaki City, and the city will gradually move forward with studies and investigations, including an examination of the necessity of the extension (through needs studies), the framework for the project, the qualifications for the lead entity of the project, the scale of the budget, and other project aspects. The city also plans to establish a forum for discussing the project with Kawasaki City, relevant private railways, and others.

In regards to the benefits of the extension of the Municipal Subway Line 3, the city offers the following:
  1. Coordination and connection with the Blue Line, Den’en Toshi Line, and Odakyū Line, establishing a regional railway network;
  2. Strengthening of the axis connecting the Tama New Town area and central Yokohama;
  3. Establishment of new flows of people, bringing vitality to interaction and exchange between areas, including central Yokohama.
In addition, the targeted areas in the extension, including the Yokohama and Kawasaki areas, are both forecasted for population growth for the time being, and it’s believed there will be substantial ripple effects as a result of the extension.

The proposed extension was identified as a recommended line in 2000 by the Transport Policy Council. With a straight-line distance of approx. 6 km, the portion within Yokohama City was recommended as an A1 line (rail line appropriate for opening by the horizon year)—the highest priority—while the portion within Kawasaki City was recommended as an A2 line (rail line appropriate for groundbreaking before the horizon year).

So far, Yokohama City has been implementing A1 lines such as the Municipal Subway Blue Line and Minato Mirai Line in succession, and is currently in the process of constructing the Kanagawa East Line (Sōtetsu ‒ JR Through Line: Nishiya ‒ Hazawa; Sōtetsu ‒ Tōkyū Through Line: Hazawa ‒ Hiyoshi), another A1 line.

As a result, the city is keeping an eye on the progress being made on the East Line, but is still aiming to get the ball rolling on the proposed extension of the Municipal Subway Line 3 while its midterm four-year plan is in effect (FY2010-13). The extension is a potential key project in the development of the city’s comprehensive transportation network for the next generation.

Meanwhile, Kawasaki City has its own plans to construct a subway (the Kawasaki Rapid Railway), and is aiming for securing approvals for a new alignment, introducing new technologies such as battery-powered trains. But with substantial cuts to budgetary allocations related to the project, inaction in the assembly of project-related funds, and a restructuring of the Rapid Railway Department in FY2010, more voices are calling for the active reuse of existing rail lines such as the JR Nambu Line and the advancement of the proposed extension of Yokohama Municipal Subway Line 3.
Another article on this with a little more information.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:13 AM   #2148
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Shakujii Kōen Station construction updates: Part 1

Recent photos (2011.01.07) of the quadruple-tracking and grade-separation (elevation) of the Seibu Ikebukuro Line near Shakujii Kōen Station (Nerima Ward, Tōkyō).
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

West approach into the station, closer to Ōizumi Gakuen. There hasn’t been a whole lot of movement, perhaps because this is one of the materials / equipment delivery routes into the site. As the switchout to the elevated track nears, they may do some final adjustments.



Rising up to the aerial structure.
To our right, construction crews are working on the elevated outbound track, which bows in to align with the inbound track because of a new siding they are constructing just west of the station. There are actually plans for two sidings, but because of obstruction from ground-level track infrastructure, they won’t be able to complete both new sidings just yet. Eventually, portions of this outbound track will be reused for the second siding.



A better look at the temporary layout once the outbound track is elevated. There’s been much progress since the last update.



Approaching the station, it appears that some of the temporary overhead gantry supports in use since the elevation of the inbound track are now obstructing the track siding, and will need to be replaced with the new supports at bottom right.



At the station, looking west, back the way we came. The switch at bottom leads straight into one of the temporary supports.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:14 AM   #2149
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Shakujii Kōen Station construction updates: Part 2

At the station:
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

East end of the station, closer to Ōizumi Gakuen. They’ve got some scaffolding up in order to complete the canopy work for the elevated outbound platform.



Shakujii Kōen is a four-track station, but moving further down the platform, we can see that there’s little they can do on the outside outbound track due to space constraints. Instead, they are focusing efforts on getting the inside track complete and in service. However, it doesn’t look like they’ll be doing extra work on the canopy, as it appears to be the final design.



East end of the station, looking east towards Nerima Takanodai Station. While the outbound track at the station hasn’t been completed, the approach into the station is already finished. After completion of the platform canopy, perhaps they will lay down the track inside the station while they polish things up elsewhere.



Looks like the outbound tracks will also be getting a double crossover like the one already in place for the inbound tracks.



Moving towards Nerima Takanodai, they’re still working on completing the rest of the inside inbound track, which could not be fully completed in the last stage of construction due to space constraints.



Rail, ties, and other materials are already in place… They just need to assemble the track. Obviously, they will want to complete the inside inbound track before they elevate the outbound track.



Approaching Nerima Takanodai Station, work is progressing on the outbound track. The outbound track is only a temporary alignment, following the future inside outbound track until they can get the fourth track in place.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:14 AM   #2150
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Ekoda Station, Shiinamachi Station construction updates

Short update on the work at these two stations (2011.01.07).
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

West end of Ekoda Station, closer to Sakuradai. Work on the existing platform sections is mostly complete, while beyond that, they are still working on the extensions to allow 10-car trains to stop at the station. Apparently, the platform edges on the extensions are already complete, they just need to construct the rest of it.



East end of the station, closer to Higashi-Nagasaki Station. Parts of the platform still look partially complete, surrounded here by temporary fencing and with some work going on beneath. Probably necessary for construction purposes, but in any event, most of the existing platform sections are complete, with new surfacing and tactile detection tiles.



At the faregate area, the new elevator is now in use.



A couple shots passing through Shiinamachi Station, where they are constructing an elevated concourse for barrier-free access and improved public access across the tracks.



The east end (closer to Ikebukuro) appears to be where most of the visible construction work is happening. Not sure if they are planning to convert this to a 10-car train station, but this is where the platform extensions would go, in any event. On the left side is the construction vehicle access to the site, so once they complete work on the elevated concourse and other general improvements, perhaps they will be able to construct the platform extensions.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:15 AM   #2151
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Hōya Station construction updates

Recent photo update (2011.01.07) of the construction at Hōya Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line.

First, the trackwork.
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

Between Hibarigaoka and Hōya, approaching the station from the west. They are doing some changes to the track layout here. The track coming in from the right connects with the outbound track, but it looks like they will be linking it with the former inbound track to serve as a new siding / storage track. The buffer stop on the current siding to the right of that track appears to be in the way, so perhaps they will be doing some relocation or shifting of this track, too.



Former inbound track to our right, which they are realigning to match the new inbound track.



Approaching the station. This area doesn’t appear to have been touched very much since the last update.



It appears they still will be doing a lot more work on the tracks here… The center track has yet to be laid, and they will need to design new switches, etc. After the center track is up and running, perhaps then they will get rid of this leftover double crossover, half of which has already been taken out. The other half is only needed for the connection to the sidings west of the station.



At the east end of the station, where this new Y-shaped switch is already in place to connect the center track with the inbound and outbound tracks.



Now, the station itself:
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

Looking at the future center track, east end (closer to Ōizumi Gakuen). Behind the fence is the outbound platform currently in service, which was recently shifted west about two carlengths to allow them to do work on the east end of the platform, shown here. Previously parts of the old inbound platform were blocking the future center track, but that’s all been cleaned up now. Perhaps we will see the track being laid soon. The canopy is also taking shape, but the platform surface itself still needs some work.



Central section of the center track.



West end, closer to Hibarigaoka. We can clearly see the extended parts (approx. two carlengths) of the platform which are supported by simple frame structures



On the outbound platform.
We can see the edge tiles have been switched out at this location. Work on the center platform / track appears to be going slowly, so perhaps they will finish up the remaining work after they complete the improvements to the outbound platform / track.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:16 AM   #2152
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Tōbu to implement schedule revisions to Tōjō Line; increased TJ Liner services
http://www.tobu.co.jp/file/3137/110124.pdf

Quote:
At Tōbu Railway (HQ: Sumida Ward, Tōkyō), we will implement schedule revisions to the Tōjō Line on Saturday, March 5, 2011. In this latest schedule revision, we will increase the number of TJ Liner services, which have been receiving high praise from many of our passengers, as well as implementing an easy-to-understand schedule and adding express trains during the morning rush hour, providing a more comfortable and more convenient Tōjō Line.

Details of the schedule revisions are below.
  1. TJ Liner-related changes
    1. We will add one train per hour during the weekday evening rush hour (Ikebukuro departures between 18:00 and 21:00) for a total of three additional trains.
    2. We will add a new connecting train (bound for Ogawamachi) at Shinrin Kōen for the last weekday trip (departing Ikebukuro at 22:50).
    3. We will extend the destination of all trains operated during weekends and holidays to Ogawamachi.
  2. Changes to regular trains
    1. We will add inbound express trains during the weekday morning rush hour.
    2. During the midday period on weekdays, weekends, and holidays, we will operate express trains at 12-minute headways and semi-express trains at 20-minute headways.
    3. We will add one local train per hour between Shiki and Kawagoe-shi during the midday period on weekdays, weekends, and holidays.
    4. We will operate outbound express trains departing from Ikebukuro during the weekday evening rush hour at 12-minute headways.
    5. We will add outbound rapid express trains during the morning period on weekends and holidays.
A Tōbu 50090 series train (unit 51095F) being transported from the Hitachi plant in Yamaguchi to the Tōkyō area last year (2010.09.04 and 2010.09.05). These are specially designed for TJ Liner service, with rotating seat that allows them to serve as regular-service trains when not holding down TJ Liner runs.


Source: tobu2181 on YouTube

50090 series train on a local service, from Kita-Ikebukuro to Ōyama. Note the unusual seating configuration that replaces the standard seven-seat longitudinal benches with three paired seats that can automatically rotate to a transverse orientation when the train is operating a TJ Liner service.


Source: tsu1112k on YouTube
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:17 AM   #2153
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Tōbu goes on bond selling spree to promote Tōkyō Sky Tree
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-0...ings-rate.html

Quote:
Tobu Railway Co., the train operator building the world’s tallest tower, is taking advantage of investor demand for better returns to sell 10 billion yen ($121 million) of bonds at the lowest cost in six years.

The Tokyo-based company, rated BBB by Japan’s Rating and Investment, is offering bonds to individual investors as yields on similarly rated securities fall to a three-year low of 28 basis points, or 0.28 percentage point, above notes with AA grades, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. In the U.S., the same gap is 91 basis points, the data show.

Tobu is luring individuals to the three-year notes with an interest rate of 0.6 percent, 10 times more than on deposits for three years or more at Japan Post Bank Co., the nation’s largest bank. Buyers also get the chance to win a hotel stay near the Tokyo Sky Tree, a 634-meter (2,080 feet) structure being built by a Tobu subsidiary.

“I visited Tokyo Sky Tree last year with my grandchild and have such good memories that now I’m thinking of buying Tobu’s bonds,” said Masako Bando, a 56-year-old housewife. “It’s worth taking money from my savings if I consider any prize as part of the return.”

The Sky Tree will top China’s Canton Tower, the tallest at 600 meters, when it’s completed this year, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. The tallest building in the world is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 828 meters, according to the council.

Softbank, Mazda
Softbank Corp., the nation’s third-biggest wireless carrier ranked BBB+ by Japan Credit Rating Agency, last week sold 45 billion yen of bonds with a 1.1 percent coupon maturing in January 2016 and 10 billion yen of 1.66 percent coupon debt due in January 2018. Mazda Motor Corp., ranked BBB by Rating and Investment, will issue 20 billion yen of five-year bonds at a 0.84 percent coupon on Jan. 27.

BBB rated bond sales rose by 12 percent last year to 1.3 trillion yen, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Investors are chasing higher-yielding bonds for the extra interest,” said Kazuma Ogino, a credit analyst at Nomura Securities Co. “For Tobu, the Tokyo Sky Tree is also becoming a hot topic, giving an extra boost to the company’s name recognition and its efforts to market bonds to individuals.”

Tobu’s rate is 38 basis points higher than the government’s most recent three-year notes marketed to individuals and compares with 0.54 percent on three-year notes sold to the same class of investors in 2005. Average yields on the nation’s BBB rated securities are 52 basis points higher than those on government debt, according to figures from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Three-Year Bonds
The last time Tobu sold three-year bonds to individuals, it paid a 0.99 percent rate. The company’s 1.44 percent securities due in July 2014 yielded 0.7 percent as of Jan. 24, according to Japan Securities Dealers Association.

The spread between AA rated and BBB ranked Japanese corporate bonds was 28 basis points on Jan. 24, the lowest since Feb. 8, 2008, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch data.

Benchmark 10-year government bonds dropped for a third day yesterday as Bank of Japan policy makers predicted an economic expansion of 3.3 percent in the year ending March 31, compared with the 2.1 percent estimated in October. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 1.2 percent.

Ten-year bond futures for March delivery fell 0.22 to 139.39 late yesterday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The yield on the 10-year bond due December 2020 rose 1.5 basis points to 1.245 percent at Japan Bond Trading Co., the nation’s largest interdealer debt broker.

The extra yield 10-year Treasuries offer over similar- maturity Japanese government debt widened to 2.18 percentage points on Jan. 24, up from 2010’s low of 1.46 percentage points on Sept. 7.

Refinancing Needs
Tobu will use proceeds from the sale to refinance maturing individual consumer bonds, not for the tower, according to Tomoya Sugiyama, a manager in the finance and accounting department at the railway operator. The Tokyo communications tower will cost an estimated 65 billion yen and is being funded by loans.

Investors who buy 1 million yen of the individual bonds will be eligible to win one of 500 overnight stays at a Tobu hotel with a view of Tokyo Sky Tree, according to the prospectus. The draw also includes 1,000 tickets for lunch at the hotel and 1,000 Tokyo Sky Tree pass holders.

“We’re offering the prizes as a way to increase awareness of the tower,” said Sugiyama. “Interest is very high in the bonds.”

Individual Investors
Tobu sells bonds yearly to individual investors to increase its investor base, according to Sugiyama. It sold three-year bonds with a 0.54 percent coupon in 2005, he said.

Japanese railway companies are looking for ways to increase passengers as the population declines. Tokyu Corp., a Tokyo- based rail and retail company, is building a 34-story complex to attract customers to its station in Shibuya, while Keikyu Corp. opened a station to serve a new international terminal at Haneda Airport last year.

“Japanese railway companies need to invest to draw more customers,” said Kazusada Hirose, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Japan K.K. “Sky Tree has boosted Tobu’s recognition and is more successful than expected.”
Good to see Tōbu riding the waves of this... The Sky Tree isn't even finished and it's already a landmark, making appearances in all sorts of TV shows and publications.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:17 AM   #2154
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Urawa Station construction updates: Part 1

Some recent updates on the construction work at Urawa Station, which involves elevation of the tracks for the Keihin-Tōhoku Line and Utsunomiya Line / Takasaki Line and construction of new platforms to serve Shōnan-Shinjuku Line trains running on the Tōhoku Freight Line. Platform 4 is scheduled to switch from the existing ground-level facilities to the new elevated facilities with the start of service on 2011.03.06. This will be a typical switchout, taking place from late evening on 2011.03.05 into early morning of 2011.03.06.
Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/helicopter/

Station aerial.
Platforms 1 and 2 are for the Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Platforms 3 and 4 are for the Utsunomiya Line (Tōhoku Main Line) / Takasaki Line.



From the south end of the elevated Platform 3 (Utsunomiya Line / Takasaki Line inbound for Ueno), looking south. Track 3 was elevated on 2009.12.20. We can see Track 4 on the right is already in place.



Turning around to look north. To the right are Platforms 1 and 2 for the Keihin-Tōhoku Line, designed to accommodate 10-car trains. Platforms 3 and 4 are designed to accommodate 15-car trains, as will the new Platforms 5 and 6.





Departure board:
Local, 15 cars, 4-door cars, 11:43, Bound for Ueno
Local, 15 cars, 4-door cars, 11:51, Bound for Ueno
Utsunomiya Line and Takasaki Line trains currently terminate at Ueno, but in a year or so, we should also see (hopefully plenty of) direct services to Tōkyō Station with the completion of the Tōhoku Through Line. Departure board for Platform 4 is not functional yet.



A peek at the work being performed on Platform 4. Below is the canopy over the ground-level Platform 4, and beyond that, the aerial structure for the Tōhoku Freight Line.



From the north end of Platform 3, looking south.


Looking down the northside approach from ground level, as a Shōnan-Shinjuku Line train bound for Ōmiya and beyond passes by on our left.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:18 AM   #2155
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Urawa Station construction updates: Part 2

Slope + curve.



A look at the concrete work for the trackbed, before it gets buried in ballast. Like the recently elevated Chūō Main Line between Mitaka and Tachikawa and other recent trackwork projects, this uses elastic ballast track. Sound and vibration performance is equal to or better than existing ballast track, but the track is more resilient to deformation, so there is less maintenance required. It’s also 30% cheaper than slab track… The “best of both worlds,” perhaps?



Completed elastic ballast track.



Platform structural design is pretty simple.



Concourse level beneath the platforms. It still looked like a construction zone when Platform 3 was elevated, but it’s now starting to take shape.



Directional signage for Platform 4 is covered up for the time being.



Perhaps we’ll see some of the large J-AD Vision displays on these columns which are making an appearance at JR stations all throughout Greater Tōkyō. Urawa doesn’t seem like much, but as the central station for what used to be Urawa City (now Saitama City), it sees almost 160,000 daily entries and exits.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:18 AM   #2156
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Toyosu Station shows highest household influx in Tōkyō's 23 wards for last five years
http://www.asahi.com/housing/jutaku-...101280008.html

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According to a study by real estate marketing firm Attractors Lab, Toyosu Station in Kōtō Ward, Tōkyō Prefecture showed the highest growth in households for any station in Tōkyō's 23 wards for the last five years (2005-2010).

Top-ranking stations included stations rich with land along the Tōkyō Bay shoreline slated for development (including Kachidoki Station, Sengakuji Station (Shibaura Island area), Tennōzu Island Station, and Tamachi Station), stations which were profoundly impacted by the opening of new rail lines (including Kinshichō Station (Hanzōmon Line), Narimasu Station (Fukutoshin Line), and Ōji‒Kamiya (Namboku Line)), and stations where redevelopment has been underway.

The results show a general trend of household relocations to the waterfront and Jōtō areas as a result of the extension of rail lines such as the Ōedo Line and Hanzōmon Line. The study concludes, "With the concentration of Tōkyō Prefecture's large-scale office supply along the Yamanote Line between Akihabara and Shinagawa, the growth in households (in the waterfront areas) may be the result of the increasing single-person and DINK households."
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:19 AM   #2157
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Antenna installation on Tōkyō subways not as easy as it seems
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/new...2130030-n1.htm

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Passengers will soon be able to use their mobile phones inside tunnels on the Toei Subway and Tōkyō Metro running through Tōkyō Prefecture. While it’s expected antennas could be installed as early as before year’s end on primary tunnel sections, some might ask why can’t the work be completed quicker. The reason lies with circumstances unique to Tōkyō’s dense web of subways.

The plan to install antennas inside subway tunnels surfaced with a tweet from one member of the Twitter mini-blog service. That led to a Twitter exchange between Softbank president Son Masayoshi and Tōkyō vice-governor Inose Naoki, and the plan to install antennas on the Toei Subway was decided at a January 20 conference. On the same day, Tōkyō Metro also indicated its intention to participate in the plan.

Base station equipment and antennas for mobile phone service have already been installed on platforms and concourses inside subway stations in Tōkyō Prefecture. Since space underground is limited, instead of each mobile phone service provider installing its own equipment, antennas and shared equipment are installed through the Japan Mobile Communications Infrastructure Association (JMCIA), comprised of 17 mobile service firms.

Meanwhile, tunnels are still a dead zone for mobile service, and the Tōkyō Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the Toei Subway, says, “This has been a hot topic among many of our users.” The Bureau of Transportation had been in continuous discussions with the JMCIA regarding infrastructure investment, but it appears that significant progress has been made as a result of the recent “executive-level negotiations.”

However, studies of tunnel sections currently have yet to be commenced, and some members of the industry say they have “no idea just how much work will be involved.” Within Japan, the Fukuoka City Subway and other systems have already installed antennas inside tunnels, but the subway network inside Tōkyō Prefecture is another order of magnitude in size, and the situation inside tunnels is also different.

Weaving this way and that; diverse construction methods
One of the reasons behind the difficulties in installing antennas on subways in Tōkyō Prefecture is that the tracks have a large number of curves and elevation changes. In order to cover all sections of the tunnels, there is a need to install a large number of antennas in the most appropriate locations. For safety reasons, however, the work inside tunnels can only be performed for effectively two to three hours a day, after the last train. As a result, tunnel surveys alone are expected to take a fair amount of time.

The other difficulty lies in different structural designs among tunnels, depending on when the line was constructed and the selected construction method. For example, the older Tōkyō Metro Ginza Line and Marunouchi Line are designed to draw power from an exclusive third rail erected along the side of the tracks, meaning they have no overhead lines hanging from the ceiling and limited available space. On the other hand, there are some lines like the Namboku Line that have both directions of track running inside a single tunnel.

As a result, it’s likely that the actual work will involve installation of antennas using one of three primary methods.

One method is to install high-directionality antennas at platform ends and entrances into tunnels and project signals inside the tunnel. This method is suited for locations with long, straight sections of tunnel, but in order to project signals long distances, the antenna must grow in size. As a result, finding a location to install the antennas without obstructing train operations becomes more difficult.

The second method uses leaky coaxial cable, which feature slots cut into the coaxial cable’s shielding. The signal “leaks” from the cables laid inside tunnels, effectively serving as antennas. Because the cables are only a few centimeters in diameter, they can easily be installed inside narrow tunnels and offer the benefit of a high signal stability because they uniformly transmit signals in close proximity to trains. On the other hand, in order to easily transmit the signal, the cables must be installed at the same height as train windows, close to passengers, meaning installation can take longer.

The third method involves the installation of regular antennas inside tunnels, connected by fiber optic cable to equipment housed at stations. However, the signal may not be able to reach past curves or elevation changes, meaning the location of antenna installations must be carefully selected. Even for locations offering good signal coverage, space constraints may not make antenna installation possible. There is an additional issue that requires increasing the number of antennas in tunnel sections where the train and tunnel walls are in close proximity, which limits the available space for signal transmission.

Installation costs to be borne by mobile service firms
The Fukuoka City Subway uses the antenna method, while Sapporo City uses the signal projection method. Based on these precedents, the JMCIA will design the most appropriate method depending on each line and station in Tōkyō Prefecture. Nagayama Satoshi, chief of KDDI’s au General Construction Department Planning Group, says, “In order to establish the most effective structure, there will likely be cases where several different methods will need to be combined, depending on location.”

The JMCIA will just now begin estimating the installation costs and deciding on a method of divvying up the funding burden. A preliminary calculation estimates that installing the system on all lines of the Toei Subway and Tōkyō Metro would cost about 20 billion, which would be funded entirely by mobile phone service providers. Regarding the allocation of signal frequencies, JMCIA spokespersons say, “There are several options, such as allotting based on the frequency ranges used by mobile providers—for example, one slot in the 800 MHz range—or based on the frequencies and bandwidths used.”

Once construction starts, there is the possibility that other issues may arise, but with the backing of the mobile phone industry and subway operators, a major swath of Tōkyō currently without coverage will no longer be without it. The convenience of mobile phones and smartphones will likely increase further, with passengers able to check their email while riding the subway or reporting incidents in disasters or other emergency situations.

But just because trains will now be able to receive signals does not mean that passenger etiquette regarding the use of mobile phones on subway trains should change. Passengers should take care to limit their use of the service and apply common sense, turning their phones off near priority seating areas, setting their phones to silent mode in other parts of the train, and refraining from phone conversations.

Softbank president Son Masayoshi talks with Tōkyō Metro vice-governor Inose Naoki at Tōkyō Metropolitan Government headquarters. (Kyōdō News)


In order to transmit signals inside tunnels on the subway, antennas will be installed using any of three methods.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 01:58 PM   #2158
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Nagoya Manaca IC farecard update

With about 10 days to go until Manaca gets released into the wild, here's what I've been seeing on my commute on the Nagoya Subway...

I noticed they'd been replacing the turnstiles with newer units that have color screens and an obvious cellophane wrapped panel where you can tap your Manaca card, but in bigger stations, they left 1~3 wickets in place for some reason, and now I see why-- look at the yellow one on the left...

They are waiting until the last minute to install the IC専用改札, the "Manaca Only" gates.

You can only tap your IC here; no paper ticket slot on these.

Also what Quashlo said about Coca-Cola is true; all of the machines in the subway system have been upgraded with e-money readers now.


This one takes EDY, ID, and a few others--it'll take Manaca on the 11th.

Last edited by starrwulfe; February 1st, 2011 at 02:04 PM.
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Old February 2nd, 2011, 05:43 AM   #2159
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Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Tōshiba submit bid for Ho Chi Minh City Metro trains
http://www.nikkan.co.jp/news/nkx0120110131baah.html

Quote:
By the end of January, four Japanese teams—Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Tōshiba—had submitted bids to manufacture trains for the Ho Chi Minh City Metro project being planned by the Vietnamese government. The order calls for providing 51 cars, reaching a total contract value of 50 billion when including various construction works. Vietnamese officials will begin examining the proposals, and are expected to make a decision to award the train order in two to three months.

Hitachi teamed with Hitachi Plant Technologies, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with Sumitomo Corporation, Kawasaki Heavy Industries with ITŌCHŪ Corporation, and Tōshiba with Marubeni Corporation, each submitting bid packages to provide railcars for the Ho Chi Min City Metro. The bids will use a portion of low-interest yen loans offered by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for infrastructure investment.

The four Japanese teams submitted for Ho Chi Minh City Metro Line 1, an approx. 20 km line planned to connect Bến Thnh in central Ho Chi Minh City to Suoi Tien in the northeastern part of the city. The line is scheduled to open in 2020.
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Old February 2nd, 2011, 05:43 AM   #2160
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Japanese trading firms team with Korean, Chinese partners to win projects
http://www.sankeibiz.jp/business/new...0821003-n1.htm

Quote:
Big-name trading companies and railcar manufacturers are diving headfirst into the overseas railway market. A flood of projects are surfacing as urban railways are regaining favor as an environmentally-sustainable form of mass transport, producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The Japanese government has heralded the export of railway infrastructure as one of its growth strategies, and joint marketing efforts by the public and private sector have begun. In the private sector, firms are beginning to step into new frontiers in an effort to win projects, joining hands with overseas partners and considering entry into the railway maintenance field.

Flood of megaprojects
Japanese trading companies unanimously announced their proposals for an elevated railway project in Thailand with a bid deadline of January 17.

Thanks in part to the fact that the project is subject to a yen loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), it's expected that five groups will be making bids on the project, including a consortium of Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Sumitomo Corporation, as well as a Marubeni Corporation / Hyundai Rotem team, a Mitsubishi Corporation / Siemens team, and a Mitsui & Co. team. With the project calling for a comprehensive package from trackwork and signalling systems to rolling stock provision and urban development in the surrounding areas, each of the teams is eager to get their hands on the prize.

"While a Japanese consortium (with Japanese manufacturers) is a top priority for us, being able to join forces with overseas manufacturers can also hold the key to victory in these bidding competitions," confides an executive from one big-name trading company.

The role of trading companies, who have experience in financing schemes and rolling stock provision, in high-speed railway projects is becoming more and more critical, but trading companies say their true objective is an "omni-directional foreign policy" that doesn't depend on the railcar manufacturers' country of origin.

When considering project quality and stability, then of course Japanese railcar manufacturers, with technology that leads the rest of the world, are the best choice. An all-Japanese team would also be in agreement with the Japanese government's growth strategy. But according to the same trading company executive, the reality is that in order to be successful across the globe, trading companies must also boldly join forces with cost-competitive Korean and Chinese firms, "winning projects and amassing a portfolio of experience."

In reality, the number of examples of Japanese trading companies teaming with overseas partners is increasing. In the previously-mentioned Thailand project, Marubeni teamed up with Korea's Hyundai Rotem, which has an established reputation for cost-competitiveness, while Mitsui & Co. also successfully joined forces with Hyundai Rotem to win an order for So Paulo Metro Line 4 in Brazil. In a project for the Bangalore Metro in southern India won by Mitsubishi Corporation, one can also find Rotem's name in tow. And Marubeni joined hands with China's Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Group and Rotem to successfully win an order for Shezhen's metro system.

While projects for infrastructure systems such as water, electricity, and railways don't promise vast profits, they are attractive as a stable source of revenue. In order to succeed in the competition, there is now more and more a need for a comprehensive administration and the accumulatiom of knowhow in each country and for each project. Overseas railcar manufacturers are one critical factor in accumulating that knowhow.

Eyes on railway maintenance, as well
Meanwhile, Japanese manufacturers are finding themselves in a more and more competitive environment. The so-called "Big 3" overseas manufacturers—Germany's Siemens, Canada's Bombardier, and France's Alstom—have the ability to complete everything from railcar manufacturing to maintenance and administration in-house. In particular, they have developed a business model that secures approx. 30 percent of their revenue through performing maintenance and repair, strengthening their competitiveness. The Koreans and the Chinese, who are working quickly to gain technical expertise, are also making their presence known.

In an effort to break through the impasse, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have said they will join forces, and there is now the possibility that teams of Japanese firms, including big-name trading companies, will now increase.

In addition, there is some movement to increase revenues through maintenance work. Sumitomo Corporation and Nippon Sharyō, which has experience supplying railcars to the United States, are considering construction of a plant in the United States, and it appears that one of the targets of the plan is to develop railway maintenance into a new revenue model.

Risk sharing
In the high-speed railway project being planned by Brazil, many believe that the Korean team is the most likely to win. While a Japanese consortium with Mitsui & Co. at the helm and including Hitachi and other firms is hoping to win the project, the risk associated with the contract terms demanded by the Brazilian government is high, and one industry expert says, "The Japanese and European teams are hesitant."

The Japanese team has requested the guarantee of a minimum amount of revenue in the event that the ridership demand falls below forecasted levels, as well as the participation of Brazilian firms. While the Brazilian government extended the bid deadline to April, there are no signs that it will respond to the requests for changes to the contract terms, and the situation is at a stalemate. This "country risk" is not an unusual factor, especially in emerging nations.

In regards to the national government teaming up with the private sector and beginning its support of infrastructure marketing efforts, many in the private sector, including one executive at a trading company, welcome the move as "heartening." But the reality is that there is still insufficient debate about whether the risk in these projects can be shared between the public and private sectors. "There are cases (in emerging nations) where the project becomes a money-loser and too much for a private-sector firm to handle," says the trading company executive. It's possible that risk sharing between the the public and private sectors will surface as a key topic in the future.

A train for Brazil's So Paulo Metro Line 4, an order won jointly by Mitsui & Co. and Korea's Hyundai Rotem.




Recent orders won by trading firms:
Code:
Firm               Project                                      Teaming Firms
Mitsubishi Corp.   Bangalore Metro (Southern India)             Hyundai Rotem, Indian firms, Mitsubishi Electric
Mitsui & Co.       So Paulo Metro Line 4 (Brazil)              Hyundai Rotem and others
Sumitomo Corp.     Taipei Metro trains (Taipei)                 Nippon Sharyō
ITŌCHŪ Corp.       Guangzhou Metro Line 6 linear motor trains   Qingdao Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock (CSR subsidiary)
Marubeni Corp.     Shenzhen Metro trains                        Hyundai Rotem, Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Group
Sōjitz Corp.       MBTA (Boston) trains                         Hyundai Rotem
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