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Old June 25th, 2009, 08:53 AM   #201
quashlo
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Additional bicycle parking at Chūō Line’s Toyoda Station
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/tok...OYT8T01234.htm

Quote:
Hino City, as part of a strategy against illegal bicycle parking in the area surrounding Toyoda Station on the JR Chūō Line, will complete improvements to Toyoda Station North Bicycle Parking Facility No. 3 by next March, increasing bicycle parking by 310 spaces. Eliminating illegal bicycle parking is one goal of the Emergency Bicycle Improvement Plan approved last in February 2008.

The existing facility is a single story structure, with space for 180 bicycles. By constructing a two-story, steel-frame structure, the facility will be able to handle 2.8 times its current capacity. The estimated construction cost is approximately ¥100 million.

According to a study commissioned by the city last year, over the course of one day, there is a maximum deficit of approximately 737 bicycle spaces in the area around the Toyoda Station North Exit. In particular, approximately 500 bicycles were parked illegally between the Hino Precinct Tamadaira Police Box and the Hino Dai-Ni Chūgakkō-mae intersection, usurping half of the 2.5 m-wide pedestrian path.

As a result, the city has contracted members from the Silver Human Resources Center (note: a government-established employment agency that provides jobs for the elderly) to organize the bicycles so as not to block special sidewalk treatments for the visually-impaired. Citizens have since expressed their desire to see the illegal parking issue resolved.

The 2008 improvement plan also includes an additional 1,200 spaces outside Kōshū Kaidō and Manganji Stations on the Tama Monorail.


Bicycles parked illegally on the sidewalk near the North Exit of Toyoda Station.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 08:56 AM   #202
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ICOCA reaches 1,000,000 purchases a month
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...2044019-n1.htm

Quote:
Use of JR West’s IC farecard ICOCA as electronic money for shopping purchases is becoming more and more common, with purchases this month set to reach over 1,000,000 sales. The increasing convenience of the card appears to be the primary reason, as locations accepting the farecard have grown to close to 9,000 shops.

According to JR West, electronic money purchases in May using ICOCA cards reached an all-time record high of 986,000 purchases, an increase of 37.3 percent over May 2008. Despite the fact that railway ridership has actually decreased due to the swine flu scare, electronic money purchases increased by 3,000 sales over April.

Partially driving the popularity of ICOCA is the increasing acceptance of the card at retail outlets, especially convenience stores. In May, approximately 520 Family Mart locations along JR West lines began accepting the cards. Approximately 280 Daily Yamazaki locations also began accepting ICOCA on June 22, and will be followed by 52 Matsuya restaurant locations on June 25. Accepting locations under the jurisdiction of JR West reached approximately 8,600, including shops inside stations.

And as part of a trial, cardholders will be able to use ICOCA to pay the entrance fee to the Mizuno Open Yomiuri Classic pro-golf tournament beginning June 25 at the Yomiuri Country Club (Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture).

By the end of May, approximately 4.69 million ICOCA cards were in circulation—including approximately 230,000 SMART ICOCA cards that can be recharged using credit cards—an increase of 960,000 cards over the same time last year.

However, JR East’s IC farecard Suica, which was released before ICOCA, had about 26.23 million cards in circulation by the end of May, with electronic money purchases reaching approximately 25.80 million a month. With the interoperable PASMO card used by Tōkyō private railways, Suica is accepted at 54,000 locations.

“We need to keep expanding the number of locations accepting ICOCA and increasing the card’s usefulness… This should continue to increase the number of purchases made using the card,” says JR West.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 08:58 AM   #203
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Takenotsuka Station to be elevated
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...906230413.html

Quote:
The at-grade crossings at Takenotsuka Station (Adachi Ward, Tōkyō) on the Tōbu Isesaki Line, where two died and two were severely injured in a March 2005 incident, will be decommissioned as part of the elevation of the station. On June 23, the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government, the Adachi Ward Government, and Tōbu Railway hosted a public workshop about a plan to elevate approximately 1.5 kilometers of the line near the station, eliminating the two at-grade crossings. With the Metropolitan Government as project lead, however, the project has been waiting in the construction queue, leading Adachi Ward to take over as the lead agency. While it may cost them additional money, Adachi Ward is eager to get started on the project as quickly as possible. The project could start construction as early as 2011, but completion would take 10 years.

The at-grade crossings at Takenotsuka Station are famous as “crossings that never open.” During the morning rush hour, the crossings are only open for about two minutes out of the whole hour. The 2005 incident happened when the crossing safety guard removed the train approach lock against company regulations and raised the crossing arms. At the time, it was discovered that this practice had become commonplace.
The crossings at this station are particularly bad because the Tōbu Isesaki Line is quadruple-tracked in this section, and both the local and rapid tracks operate at high frequencies.

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Source: Ayumiktn on Flickr

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Source: Ayumiktn on Flickr
An elevator and pedestrian bridge were installed in 2006 following the incident.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 09:01 AM   #204
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JR Ōsaka Higashi Line: Land purchasing only at 3%
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...1119003-n1.htm

Quote:
On June 25, it became definite that the opening of the 11.1-km section between Hanaten and Shin-Ōsaka Station on the JR Ōsaka Higashi Line (Kyūhōji – Shin-Ōsaka, 20.3 km), which runs north-south through eastern Ōsaka Prefecture, will be delayed to 2018. The opening of the section was originally scheduled for 2011. Several factors have caused the delay, including difficulties in purchasing land—currently, only three percent of the necessary land has been purchased. On June 25, the Ōsaka Soto-Kanjō Railway (OSR), the third-sector company performing the work using funds from the Ōsaka Prefectural Government and JR West, asked the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for an extension of the construction schedule to 2018.

OSR began construction for the line in 1999, aiming for a complete 2011 opening of the Ōsaka Higashi Line. The section between Kyūhōji and Hanaten (9.2 km), which was prioritized for improvements, opened in March 2008, but due to delays in purchasing right-of-way, construction start for the line north of Hanaten was pushed back to 2007. As a result, of the approximately 1,900 sq. m. of land needed on the Hanaten - Shin-Ōsaka section, only three percent has been obtained so far.

In addition, the original plan called for laying new track between Nishi-Suita (temporary name) and Shin-Ōsaka following the Tōkaidō Line, but because two large apartment towers were constructed atop the proposed alignment, the necessary compensation costs have ballooned. As a result, the plan had to be revised to instead connect with the existing Umeda Cargo Line to reach Shin-Ōsaka.

In addition to an extension of the construction schedule, OSR also formally requested approval for the new alignment. The company plans to begin improvement works at Shin-Ōsaka this summer to accommodate the line. “We sincerely apologize to citizens along the line for the significant setbacks in opening the new section. We hope to complete construction in 2018 and inaugurate a railway that is easy to use for everyone,” said representatives.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 09:12 AM   #205
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Part 5 of my Kansai photos…

===========================================

Hanshin Umeda Station. This station is the terminal for the Hanshin Main Line, consisting of four tracks. Waiting to depart is a Hanshin 9300 series train on a limited express run to Sumaura Kōen on the San’yō Electric Railway Main Line. On the opposite side, passengers disembark from a recently-arrived train.

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With the opening of the Hanshin Namba Line, Hanshin is the only private railway in Kansai to have service to both Namba and Umeda.

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A Hanshin 5500 series unit waits at Platform 4, on a local run for Kōsoku Kōbe on the Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway. The 5500 series is part of a group of Hanshin series nicknamed “Jetcars” because they have the highest acceleration rate among Japanese trains (the 5500 series has an acceleration rate of 4.0 kphps, the other Jetcar series have acceleration rates of 4.5 kphps).

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A Hanshin 8000 series unit waits at Platform 3 on an express run for Amagasaki. Much of Hanshin’s fleet, including this unit, was built in-house by one of their subsidiary companies, Mukogawa Car Factory, but that company has since gone out of business.

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I board a train to Amagasaki Station. Besides being the junction for the Main Line and the Namba Line, the station is also the access point for Amagasaki Yard.

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Amagasaki Station, facing east from the island for Platforms 5 and 6 (Main Line towards Sannomiya and Motomachi). As part of the opening of the Hanshin Namba Line, the station was expanded outwards. The track to the left is for Platform 5, the track to the right is for Platform 6. The platform to the left is for the Hanshin Namba Line and is designed to accommodate longer trains because some trains on the Namba Line run with ten cars.

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A Hanshin Main Line local for Kōsoku Kōbe arrives at Platform 5. There are actually two platforms called “Platform 5,” as you can board the train from either side. The configuration is somewhat unusual, but allows you to transfer across the platform, or through the train if necessary. One can start from a Main Line train at Platform 6 (out of the picture to the left), walk through the Main Line train at Platform 5, and transfer to a Namba Line train at Platform 4 (out of the picture to the right).

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Another Jetcar, a second-generation 5001 series unit.

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View from the platform.

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A San’yō Electric Railway 5030 series train, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, waits at Platform 5. The stopping patterns for through-service between San’yō and Hanshin are fairly complex and there are various grades of special express service. The “through-service special express” is the only one that operates over the entire length of both San’yō Electric Railway Main Line and the Hanshin Main Line—from San’yō Himeji to Hanshin Umeda, this is a distance of 92 km.

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From Amagasaki Station, facing west (in the direction of Kōbe). To the right are Kintetsu trains on Namba Line service.

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Still on Platform 5 / 6. On the far side, a Namba Line rapid express for Kintetsu Nara boards at Platform 3.

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A Kintetsu 9820 series train rolls into Platform 3, a local bound for Higashi-Hanazono on the Kintetsu Nara Line. Virtually all Kintetsu trains are manufactured by Kinki Sharyō, which is part of Kintetsu Group. This train sports a wrap ad for the upcoming festival celebrating the 1300th anniversary of Heijo-kyō in Nara, starting in April 2010.

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I wanted to get some shots of the new Namba Line stations, so I boarded the train.

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Passing Amagasaki Yard…

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Passing Fuku Station.

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After diving underground past Nishi-Kujō, I get off at Dome-Mae Station, which offers connections with the Ōsaka Municipal Subway Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line. This is also the station for Ōsaka Dome, the Ōsaka home of the Orix Buffaloes baseball team. Ironically, Kōshien Station on the Hanshin Main Line is home to the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, which is owned by the railway, so on a through-service Namba Line train, you pass by both stadiums.

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The Namba Line is a bit special, because Hanshin and Kintetsu trains are different lengths. Hanshin cars are about 18 m long, but Kintetsu cars are 20 m long, so the doors will never line up perfectly. Instead, these signs on the platform identify door locations. The one on the left is for one of the doors in Car No. 6 of a Hanshin train, the right is for one of the doors in Car No. 7 of a Kintetsu train. To make things slightly confusing, the colors are reversed once you get on the Kintetsu network.

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A Kintetsu 9820 series train is about to depart, bound for Amagasaki.

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The green on the exterior LED indicates it is a limited express. For rapid expresses, however, Hanshin has historically used blue, while Kintetsu has historically used red. Instead of changing the colors to a single color, Hanshin and Kintetsu agreed to switch the colors at Sakuragawa: when on the Hanshin end, the signs on rapid expresses will show as blue, but when on the Kintesu end, the signs will show as red.

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The choice of brick for the walls draws from a former Ōsaka Gas factory that used to be in this area.

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The platforms are five levels underground. A fourth level concourse was included to facilitate passenger flow during game days at Ōsaka Dome. To save energy, the escalators operate in slow mode until a passenger activates the sensor.

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The sign for Platform 2 says “for Akashi and Himeji,” which are locations on the San’yō Electric Railway Main Line. Currently, however, through-service from the Namba Line is only provided as far as Sannomiya, and passengers must transfer to reach locations further west. Kintetsu has expressed interest in extending through-service past Sannomiya, however… If not as a regular service, then at least for special express trains or other special services.

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Hanshin Tigers poster advertising the new line. For baseball fans along the Kintetsu network, access to Hanshin Tigers games at Kōshien Stadium improved with the Namba Line.

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Ticket machines

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The yellow faregate is for IC cards only.

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The yellow machine in the back is the fare adjustment machine for recharging IC cards or adding money to your ticket.

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The fare chart for Dome-Mae Station. Because of all the various through-services that eliminate the need to purchase additional tickets, the fare cart actually shows substantially more than the Hanshin network, which is shown in blue at center. The small orange section at the left end is the Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway, while the yellow segments connected to that in the upper left corner are for the Kōbe Electric Railway, which connects central Kōbe with its northern suburbs. At bottom left in green is the San’yō Electric Railway, while the right side of the chart in red is the Kintetsu network.

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Dome-mae – Chiyozaki Station on the Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line.

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The line is designed as a “mini-subway,” which uses smaller-profile cars and carries less people than a typical subway line. The trains for the Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line are only four cars long. This was actually the first mini subway in Japan to use linear motor technology.

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From here, it was back to Shin-Ōsaka to catch my Nozomi Shinkansen to Tōkyō.

To be continued...
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Old June 25th, 2009, 11:07 AM   #206
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Wow quashlo, it surely took you a couple of minutes to compile and upload all those pictures Thanks a lot
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Old June 26th, 2009, 03:24 AM   #207
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details are really cool
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Old June 26th, 2009, 07:39 PM   #208
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Tokyo Metro and Toei chikatetsu agree to merger

東京メトロと都営地下鉄、統合へ
http://news.tbs.co.jp/newseye/tbs_newseye4168389.html

Best news in ages
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Old June 27th, 2009, 03:55 AM   #209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vapour View Post
Tokyo Metro and Toei chikatetsu agree to merger

東京メトロと都営地下鉄、統合へ
http://news.tbs.co.jp/newseye/tbs_newseye4168389.html

Best news in ages
It's about time. It makes no sense for Tokyo to have two metro operating companies.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #210
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Hankyū Umeda Station: A wave of maroon, a place that makes your heart dance
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/e...906230078.html

Quote:
There’s a special ring to hearing the word “Umeda”…

Not JR Ōsaka Station, or Hanshin Umeda Station, or even Nishi-Umeda Station, with all the redevelopment going on around it. It’s Hankyū’s Umeda.

During the late 70s, when I used to commute to my kindergarten along the Hankyū Line in Nishinomiya City, Hyōgo, going to Umeda with my parents was always fun. Shopping, eating out… There was something special about the place.

Hankyū Umeda Station—The largest private railway station in Japan, with nine tracks and ten platforms, where maroon trains were lined up in an array and every ten minutes, trains for Kōbe, Takarazuka, and Kyōto would depart simultaneously. There was no scene like it.

The connecting passageway from the faregates to the Hankyū department store had the first “moving walkways” in Japan, installed in 1967. Passengers rushing atop the moving walkway became a symbol of the Kansai hustle.

But what left the biggest impression on me was the Hankyū department store’s east concourse. There was the atrium, its four stained-glass sides bringing to mind a cathedral. And there was the domed arcade, sparkling with chandeliers. On the walls of the passageway were strange murals of animals.

That mysterious place, where the unexpected was side-by-side with a truly Ōsaka style, disappeared in 2005 as part of the reconstruction of the Hankyū department store building. Two generations of craftsmen were involved in creating a place that left such a vivid impression on so many people.

=================================

In July 2008, Habuchi Yukio (64yo), owner of “Venice Studio” in Higashinari Ward, Ōsaka, stood at the east concourse of the Hankyū department store and looked up at the so-called Hankyū Grand Dome. The interior, with its copper columns reminiscent of the chancel of a Gothic church, looked as magnificent as ever, even as scaffolding was rising around it in preparation for the building’s demolition.

On all four walls, stained glass up to six meters tall let off faint shades of blue, red, and yellow. Completed in 1977 after pouring his heart and soul into the work, it’s a piece that makes Habuchi think he’s finally matched his father’s glasswork skills.

Umeda Station opened in 1910 as a single-track station on the line out to Takarazuka City in Hyōgo Prefecture. In 1926, the station was expanded to four elevated tracks and one at-grade track after the completion of the Kōbe Line. Three years later, the world’s first station department store, the Hankyū department store, opened for business, and construction proceeded on a massive domed-roof concourse linking the station and department store, with the help of Takenaka Corporation (HQ: Ōsaka).

Habuchi’s father Hiroshi mastered his skills under the apprenticeship of Ogawa Sanchi, who introduced American-style stained-glasswork to Japan. In 1923, Hiroshi partnered together with a fellow glass craftsman and opened Venice Studio in Tanimachi, Ōsaka. The studio was later asked by partners in Tōkyō to assist in producing a mosaic for architect Itō Chūta.

=================================

An expert in Eastern architecture, Itō created novel structures, including the Heian Shrine in Kyōto and Tsukiji Honganji Temple in Tōkyō. Hankyū asked Itō to create a “masterpiece that pulls at the public’s eyes”… Drawing hints from China’s “four gods” concept, Itō settled on the theme of fanciful beasts. Dragons, pegasi, lions, phoenixes…Itō later wrote, “I wanted to capture the speed and power of Hankyū’s trains.”

The mosaic was assembled by piecing together two-centimeter-long stained glass fragments, one-by-one. But the question remained as to how to make the glass shine. Habuchi says his father and his colleagues glued gold leaf to the back of the glass, heating it up to 100 to 200 degrees Celsius to make it hold.

In November 1931, the concourse opened to the public, complete with chandeliers bouncing light off the four murals on the walls.

Hashimoto Masao (81yo), former publications department chief for the Takarazuka Revue, is one of the people who have grown a deep affection for the place. “It has a beauty and brilliance that is fitting for the gate to Ōsaka,” he says. After returning from conscription into the military and seeing the concourse for the first time, he was happy he had made it out of the war alive.

After graduating from university, Habuchi became an office worker, but decided to enter into stained glass after his father passed away. Hearing from his mother that his father had wanted him to continue to the business, Habuchi couldn’t refuse.

In the mid-70s, Habuchi agreed to produce some stained glass work for the Hankyū Grand Dome, right next to the concourse featuring his father’s mosaic pieces. With a set of binoculars, Habuchi examined his father’s work... After close to fifty years, not a single fragment of glass was missing.

=================================

With the start of renovation of the Hankyū department store in 2005, Habuchi’s work disappeared. But the four murals have been preserved, and will be put into use again inside the 41-story tower set to be completed in 2011. The concourse space will also remain.

A place that unites past and present and is engraved into the hearts and minds of generations to come… I hope the new building becomes such a place.
Images of the old concourse, including the stained glass and mosaics:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/76863575/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/71728777/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/71728775/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/71728776/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/48042026/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/48042020/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/47475321/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/45570465/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/45570468/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/44082244/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/36106446/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/36106445/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/44082238/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/44082241/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/44082240/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-louis/44082239/
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Old June 30th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #211
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Station-by-station, JR slowly improves accessibility
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/kan...OYT8T00063.htm

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At JR stations in Kanagawa Prefecture with daily ridership greater than 5,000 passengers, stations are being made “barrier-free” at a breakneck pace, eliminating vertical height differences through escalators and elevators and improving accessibility for passengers in wheelchairs. The 2010 deadline for accessibility improvements established by the New Accessibility Law is nearing, and while major private railways inside Kanagawa are largely finished with their work, JR still has approximately 25 percent more stations to go. Approximately 20 stations are set to receive accessibility improvements by the deadline, including Kawasaki Station in Kawasaki City (JR’s second busiest station in Kanagawa, with 360,000 daily entries and exits), Kannai Station in Yokohama’s Naka Ward (110,000 daily entries and exits), and Kikuna Station in Yokohama’s Kōhoku Ward (100,000 daily entries and exits).

Weekday evenings, the Keihin-Tōhoku Line platforms at JR Kawasaki Station are swarming with commuters. Office worker Hatori Katsunobu (23yo) from Kawasaki Ward waited several minutes by the escalator in his wheelchair. When the crowds finally thinned, a station agent helped maneuver the wheelchair onto the escalator and up to the faregates on the second floor station concourse.

“It’s even more crowded in the mornings, and sometimes I have to wait 20 minutes. An elevator would make it much less hassle-free,” says Hatori. “It’s such a big station, I don’t know why they don’t have any elevators,” says housewife Nagashima Sayuri (27yo) from Takatsu Ward, with her five month-old son in tow.

There are a total of three escalators at the station connecting the Tōkaidō Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, and Nambu Line platforms to the station concourse. But because the station has no elevators, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) declared the station noncompliant with standards. Kawasaki City and JR East came together and agreed to install elevators at the station in 2010.

The New Accessibility Law, enacted in 2000 and amended in 2006, calls for railway operators to make “good faith efforts” to install elevators and escalators by 2010 at stations with daily ridership over 5,000 passengers.

As a result, JR East’s Yokohama Branch Office is completing improvements at six stations in 2009 and 14 stations in 2010. Among the stations inside Kanagawa Prefecture falling under the accessibility law, Tōkyū operates 33 stations, Odakyū operates 46 stations, and Keikyū operates 52 stations—all of which have already received accessibility improvements. At Kikuna and Ebina, which are transfer stations to JR lines, only JR has yet to complete their work.

According to the MLIT’s Railway Administration Policy Section, the cost of installing escalators is split one-third each among the national government, local jurisdiction, and railway operator. There are 101 JR stations inside Kanagawa Prefecture, and 83 require improvements under the accessibility law. The largest contributing factor to JR’s delay in compliance is the fact that it has significantly more stations than any of the private railways, but the Yokohama Branch Office’s public relations office pledges JR is doing it’s best to finish by the deadline.


A stroller user waits at the end of the escalator queue. (JR Kawasaki Station, Nambu Line platform)
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Old June 30th, 2009, 07:57 AM   #212
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Tōkyō Metro and Toei Subway may consolidate
http://news.tbs.co.jp/newseye/tbs_newseye4168389.html

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Two subways running back and forth underneath central Tōkyō. Japan News Network (JNN) reports that the Tōkyō Metro and the Toei Subway will consolidate.

According to officials familiar with the plan, Tōkyō Metro and the Toei Subway have already agreed on a future consolidation of operations. Negotiations are proceeding over a split ownership and operations structure, where assets such as infrastructure would remain with the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government, while subway operations would be unified under Tōkyō Metro.

While Tōkyō Metro is expected to post profits due to ridership gains from the unification, the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government would receive fees for the use of its infrastructure, which could then be used to pay off an accumulated deficit of over ¥450 billion.

However, the consolidation requires that Tōkyō Metro be listed on the stock exchange. Although the company was aiming for a listing this fiscal year, that could be postponed depending upon the stock trends.

“We have a memorandum of agreement, but the consolidation is a matter of timing. Eventually, we need to consolidate the two systems for all users,” said Tōkyō Governor Ishihara Shintarō.

If the two systems unify, it’s expected that fares for the Toei Subway, which are said to be comparatively expensive, will be reevaluated.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 07:58 AM   #213
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No bicycles on trains
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...906290344.html

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Posters advising passengers not to bring their bicycles on board trains were recently posted at stations in the Tōkyō area. The posters were produced through a cooperative effort between JR East, the major private railways, and the Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation.

Although some rural trains and trains overseas permit bicycles on board trains, inside Tōkyō’s crowded trains, it’s a nuisance to others. As a result, while they permit passengers to bring fold-up bikes on board, the railway operators have asked passengers to refrain from bringing unfolded bikes.

Recently, bicycle commuting and recreational cycling in the suburbs have become popular across all generations as part of an increase in health awareness. Railway representatives say, “Take train manners—as well as your personal health—seriously.”


Poster at JR Shibuya Station
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Old June 30th, 2009, 08:02 AM   #214
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Visually-impaired have trouble with IC card-only faregates
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/n...906290044.html

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IC cards such as ICOCA from JR West and PiTaPa from Kansai’s private railways and the Ōsaka Municipal Transportation Bureau allow passengers to pass through faregates by simply placing the card over the reader. However, IC card-only faregates have made it difficult for visually-impaired passengers to get in and out of the paid station areas. Because IC cards are difficult to check for stored value, many visually-impaired passengers prefer to use tickets, and many don’t even notice they’re at an IC card-only gate until they’ve already tried putting their ticket in. The locations of IC card-only gates differ from operator to operator and from station to station, leading some to call for a standard on the placement of the gates.

Why doesn’t it take my ticket?
Kawada Keiko (49yo), an office worker from Jōtō Ward in Ōsaka, stood dumbfounded, ticket in hand, in front of the third floor central faregates at Hankyū Umeda Station. At the age of 27, her eyesight began to falter, but nowadays, she barely has any vision at all. Thinking the gate was out of service, she moved to the one next to it, but couldn’t find anywhere to put her ticket in, either. After moving to the next gate over, which accepted both IC cards and tickets, she was finally able to get through. The first two faregates she tried to enter were for IC cards only.

According to disability groups, it’s difficult for visually-impaired passengers to read the stored value on cards when passing through the gates. In addition, the buzzer will often sound for visually-impaired passengers who don’t place the card directly on the reader. These factors lead most to use paper tickets instead. The visually-impaired also find themselves bumping into passengers in a rush at the faregates, making it a place to always be alert. “Why can’t they devise a way for people like me to get through without a hassle?” says Kawata.

IC cards were first used in autumn of 2001 in the Tōkyō region. With the rollout, faregates were modified to accept both paper tickets and IC cards, but IC card-only gates began appearing in 2005. The special gates not only smooth the flow of passengers, but also have lower failure rates than “dual” gates and the added benefit of lower maintenance costs.

Railway operators have so far been advising passengers with disabilities to go through the manned gates. Hankyū uses tactile surface indicators to lead visually-impaired passengers to the manned ticket gates. For the LCDs on the front of each faregate that normally display “O”s, “X”s, or arrows to inform passengers of the direction and in-out configuration of the gate, Hankyū distinguishes between the two types of gates by using red for dual gates and blue for IC card-only gates. JR West places a large sticker on the ground approximately two to three meters before faregates to draw passengers’ attention to IC card-only machines.

But for visually-impaired passengers, the manned ticket gates can sometimes mean a circuitous detour or a long wait in a queue, making them difficult to use. Use of different colors and stickers on the ground are only of use to passengers who still have some vision.

The differences in placement of IC card-only gates among railway operates and from station to station is another factor. Hankyū says it has no standards on placement other than not to put them in places where large crowds of passengers form, such as near escalators, and the special gates are sometimes in the center, sometimes to the side.

Last autumn in the Tōkyō area, which saw the introduction of IC card-only gates first, the Tōkyō Association for the Visually-Impaired submitted a petition to JR East calling for countermeasures to resolve the issue or the elimination of the special gates altogether. Senda Katsuo (59yo) of the Ōsaka Society for Visually-Impaired Lifestyles says, “Low costs are being given a priority while the visually-impaired are being left behind. We should be devising a universal placement standard for all railways and be using announcements or other means to identify IC card-only gates.”


IC card-only gate


Dual gate that accepts both IC cards and paper tickets (Hankyū Umeda Station)
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Old June 30th, 2009, 08:04 AM   #215
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Kashiwa City selected for new transport experiments
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/chi...OYT8T01184.htm

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After being selected by the national government as an experimental intelligent transportation systems (ITS) model city, Kashiwa City will adopt the latest information and communications technology to begin several trials of urban transport systems, all in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Between now until 2012, the municipal government will team up with the private sector and universities—particularly the Kashiwa no Ha area adjacent to the Tsukuba Express line in the northern part of the city—and begin exploring ways to make the systems practical.

On June 5, Kashiwa City was selected as the fourth model city, along with Aomori City, Yokohama, and Toyoda City (Aichi Prefecture). A trial of “on-demand” buses, which allow passengers to make reservations for a bus to their destination, will be conducted. The “on-demand” bus project received high grades as an intermediate transport mode between fixed-route buses and taxis.

The city will also begin evaluating revenue service of on-demand buses, as well as other projects such as Velotaxis running on human power, and rental bicycles that allow customers to reserve bikes via their mobile phones.

In addition, other projects include a “Park and Rail Ride” that lures drivers off the Jōban Expressway to a parking facility near the Tsukuba Express’ Kashiwa no Ha Campus Station, as well as a system that allows parking garage users to pay fees through the electronic toll collection (ETC) system. The city will also conduct trials on next-generation transport modes and host seminars and symposiums on the topic.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 08:27 AM   #216
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Quashlo,thank you for ur posting,I'm look forward to more japanese rail pics from u !
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Old June 30th, 2009, 10:20 PM   #217
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Originally Posted by quashlo View Post
Television commercial
very cool
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 07:38 PM   #218
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JR East to open Suica online service
http://www.business-i.jp/news/ind-pa...907030041a.nwc

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On July 2, JR East announced that it will start an Internet service that allows users to add value to their Suica IC farecards from a computer. The new service will be available to passengers with Suica commuter passes and Suica credit cards. Up until now, passengers have only been to add value to their Suica cards in denominations of ¥1,000, but the new service will allow passengers to add value in ¥1 increments. In addition, users will also be able to pay for purchases at JR East’s online shopping site with Suica.
The new service is at http://www.jreast.co.jp/suicainternetservice/
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 07:40 PM   #219
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JR West expands no-smoking area
http://www.asahi.com/travel/news/OSK200906300157.html

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On July 1, JR West prohibited smoking on platforms at 204 of its stations in the Kinki region. Together with the previous 47 stations that received the same treatment, this brings the total of completely smoke-free JR West stations to 251 across 16 lines. After the last trains on June 30, the smoking corners at stations were dismantled and the ashtrays and signs removed.

The latest stations to become smoke-free span across Ōsaka, Kyōto, Hyōgo, Shiga, Nara, and Wakayama Prefectures, including the section between Aboshi and Yonehara on the Tōkaidō – San’yō Line and the section between Amagasaki and Shin-Sanda on the Fukuchiyama Line. After starting the smoke-free effort last October with the Ōsaka Loop Line, due to the relative lack of complaints, JR West expanded the scope of the project. Stores inside stations will continue to sell cigarettes.

JR and private railways in the Tōkyō area have already made the move to smoke-free stations, but this is the first time a major railway in the Kansai region has done so. Private railways in Kansai, however, will continue to segregate smoking passengers from non-smoking passengers by keeping the smoking corners at the ends of platforms. Smoking cars and platform smoking areas will still remain on the Tōkaidō – San’yō Shinkansen.

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Old July 3rd, 2009, 07:42 PM   #220
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Keikyū to measure employees’ “smile factor”
http://www.business-i.jp/news/ind-pa...907010040a.nwc

Quote:
How would you rate the station attendants’ smile? On July 3, Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū) will introduce “smile measurement” devices that scan employees’ faces with a camera. The device will evaluate station attendants’ “smile factor” when they clock in, and is intended to help improve customer service. Use of smile measurement equipment in the railway business is unprecedented.

The devices will be installed in fifteen stations with designated stationmasters, including Shinagawa Station and Haneda Airport Station. The device uses a digital camera to capture key features such as how open or closed the subject’s eyes and mouth are, as well the shape of the corners of the mouth. The software then assigns a score between 0 and 100 percent. The software is designed to help employees improve their “smile factor” by notifying them with messages such as, “Raise the corners of your mouth higher.”

“By performing a daily check on our employees’ smiles, we hope to improve the customer service at our stations,” says Keikyū.

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