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Old July 18th, 2009, 08:40 PM   #261
quashlo
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Tōkyō Metro: Tokyo Heart campaign

This is Tōkyō Metro’s latest ad campaign theme, featuring actress Miyazaki Aoi.
There is a special website just for the campaing: http://www.tokyoheart.jp/

Some sample commercials:

“Platform Door” (60s)

Source: ORANGESTAR623 on YouTube

“Fukutoshin Line” (30s)

Source: sleipon on YouTube

“Service Manager” (60s)

Source: ORANGESTAR623 on YouTube

Fukutoshin Line opening Special Version B (1m30s)

Source: fukutoshin on YouTube

“Start” (30s)

Source: rxp77 on YouTube

“Ekichika” (60s)

Source: ORANGESTAR623 on YouTube

Wallpaper:
Just replace “1024x768” with “1280x1024” or “1600x1200” in the source URLs for the images below for higher-res versions.

April 2009


May 2009


June 2009


July 2009
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Old July 18th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #262
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Tōkyō: Part 4

After boarding our semi-special express for Keiō Hachiōji, we arrive at Chōfu in about 25 min., about 16 km from Shinjuku. Keiō is known as one of the cheaper operators in Tōkyō. A trip from Shinjuku to Takao-san-guchi, the furthest point in the Keiō network (about 45 km away from Shinjuku), is only ¥370. Chōfu is a transfer station and the junction between the main line (Keiō Line) and the Sagamihara Line. At left a 6000 series train on a local run for Hashimoto on the Sagamihara Line is stopped beside our train.

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As our train departs, on the other island platform (for Shinjuku), an 8000 series local for Shinjuku is stopped. The destination of Shinjuku indicates it won’t run through service onto the Toei Subway Shinjuku Line.

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The grade crossings just east of the station. Like many of Tōkyō’s lines, the Keiō Line is virtually hemmed in on both sides by houses and other structures.

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The local for Hashimoto now departs the platform. This particular train was built in 1982. The 6000 series follows the typical commuter / subway train design of 20 m, four-door (per side) cars, but in 1991, Keiō introduced cars with five doors per side. These were a little unpopular because of fewer seats and the lack of predictability about where the cars would stop, so they were eventually reconstructed as four-door cars. In contrast, nowadays this kind of treatment is usually done for permanent consists (no coupling / decoupling), so that passengers always know where the car will stop.

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Another look at the east end of the platform for Hashimoto, Keiō Hachiōji, and Takao-san-guchi, facing the direction of Shinjuku.

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We walk along the platform to the west end. On the opposite track, a Toei 10-300 series train bound for Moto-Yawata on the Toei Shinjuku Line waits at the platform for a connecting semi-special express train from the Keiō Line. All Keiō stock that through-services with the Toei Shinjuku Line consists of 10-car units, but the Toei trains for the Shinjuku Line are actually 8-car units. These were first introduced in 2004, but the cars are numbered such that they skip Car No. 3 and Car No. 4. At least some of these trains are supposed to be converted to 10-car units soon, but for now, a lot of them are actually stuck in an unusual situation doing local runs on the Keiō Sagamihara Line back and forth between Chōfu and Hashimoto—i.e., basically doing whole round trips outside of their home turf.

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A 6000 series train heads for the Sagamihara Line to the left, while on the right in the distance, another 6000 series train approaches the station from the main line. The Sagamihara Line originally started as a very short branch line, but most of it was actually constructed following the war and the rapid growth of the Tama New Town (which also spawned construction of the Odakyū Tama Line). The full Sagamihara Line as it is today was actually only completed in 1991. To cover the costs of constructing the new line, there is a fare surcharge, which means it’s actually more expensive to get to Hashimoto from Shinjuku (a distance of 38 km, ¥430) than it is to get to Takao-san-guchi (45 km, ¥370).

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Some passengers exit the Toei train and join the queues to transfer onto the arriving semi-special express.

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This is actually beyond the morning rush, around 9:15, but ridership is still quite healthy.

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This station is currently being undergrounded, so there is a lot of construction going on. This is on the south side of the station.

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The north bus and taxi plaza at the station.

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Perhaps doing maintenance checks on the tracks. The Keiō Line and its branches (Keiō New Line, Sagamihara Line, Takao Line, Keibajō Line, and Dōbutsuen Line) are an unusual 1,372 mm gauge (1,067 mm is the standard for most of Tōkyō’s network). As a result, the Toei Shinjuku Line was also constructed with 1,372 mm gauge to match the Keiō Line.

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Some welding going on… The work involves digging beneath the existing tracks to build the new tracks and station. Partly because existing service cannot be disrupted, however, progress is relatively slow.

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As the semi-special express for Shinjuku pulls into the station, an 8000 series express for Keiō Hachiōji is also waiting on our side of the station.

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The express has left and the semi-special express has just finished boarding.

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A 7000 series train on a local run for Takahata Fudō on the Keiō Line, stopped at the platform.

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Passengers board.

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The less crowded commuter rapid sits on the right. The only quadruple-track section of the Keiō Line is the Keiō New Line between Sasazuka (i.e., the junction for the Toei Shinjuku Line) and Shinjuku, and capacity is nearly maxed out. Until major upgrades like additional tracks come to fruition west of Sasazuka, trains will continue to play the skip-stop game.

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The semi-special express is ready to depart.

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Some more views of the construction on the north side of the station.

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Temporary North Exit.

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I make my way out of the station and to the west grade crossing, just as a 9000 series express from the Sagamihara Line approaches the station, bound for Motoyawata on the Toei Shinjuku Line. The 9000 series is Keiō’s latest series for the Keiō Line.

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Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists wait at the crossing.

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A familiar scene outside of central Tōkyō. Grade crossings are ubiquitous, and are very much a part of daily life. Keiō alone has about 150 crossings, but some of the larger operators like Tōbu, spread over a large area, have close to 1,000. JR East has close to 3,000 in the Kantō region. There are simply too many to make full grade-separation practical, but major crossings are slowly being removed one-by-one through elevation or undergrounding of rail lines.

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Some construction work on the south side…

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South Exit bus and taxi plaza

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At right, a Keiō Bus. At left, in red and white, is Odakyū Bus. Most of the private railway groups also have bus companies whose main purpose is to bring passengers to and from station, as well as serve areas not accessible by the rail line. Besides Keiō Bus and Odakyū Bus, a few buses from Kanagawa Chūō Kōtsū (trans. Kanagawa Central Transport), a bus-only company, also stop here.

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Taxi zone

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A route map for buses serving the South Exit

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Time to head back to the station… This is from the west end of the platform for Shinjuku.

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An 8000 series local for Keiō Hachiōji waits at the platform.

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To be continued…
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Old July 19th, 2009, 10:37 AM   #263
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Thanks for the titanic work, quashlo
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Old July 20th, 2009, 10:08 PM   #264
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自動改札の作動状況をチェックするロボット開発

 JR西日本の子会社が、営業エリア内にある自動改札機などの作動状況を、始発前にチェックするシステムを開発した。主役はアームロボット。兵庫県尼崎市のビル1室に開設された無人の模擬駅で、早朝、自動改札機に切符を入れたり、IC乗車券「イコカ」をかざしたりして、各駅のネットワークに異状がないかを自動的に調べる。

 午前3時。ロボットのアームがイコカを棚から取り出し、自動改札機にかざす。「ピッ」という音。続いてアームは切符を改札機に入れ、出てきた切符を乗り越し精算機へ。画面のタッチパネルを素早く操作し、ネットワークに問題がないことを確かめた。

 尼崎の模擬駅と、最新の改札機が導入されている岡山や広島など約150駅をネットワークで直結。不具合を発見した場合、始発電車の運行前にメールなどで知らせる。
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Old July 21st, 2009, 08:35 PM   #265
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Tama Monorail around Tachikawa



















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Japan Projects & Construction
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 08:43 AM   #266
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Nice. You captured the elegance of the line very well... It's also easy to see that the monorail is not nearly as overbearing as a typical elevated railway might be.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 08:46 AM   #267
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Ticketing maintenance robot
http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/eco_news/20090719ke02.htm

A translation of the post by japanese001:

Quote:
A subsidiary of JR West has developed a system that checks the status of automatic faregates and other machines within the service area before the start of service each day. The leading role is carried out by an arm robot. At a mockup unmanned station constructed in a room inside a building in Amagasaki City, the robot inserts tickets into the faregates and places an ICOCA IC farecard on the reader to test whether or not there are any irregularities in the station’s network.

It’s 3 am. The robot’s arm grabs an ICOCA card from the shelf and places it on the reader on top of the faregate. “Beep.” Next, the arm feeds a ticket into the faregate, and after the faregate spits it out, takes it to the fare adjustment machine. The robot quickly manipulates the machine’s touch-screen panel, checking for any problems in the network.

The mockup station in Amagasaki is connected via network to approximately 150 other stations which have received the newest faregates, including Okayama and Hiroshima. When the robot detects a malfunction in the system, it sends an e-mail out before the start of service that morning.

In October 2007, one incident disabled faregates at approximately 660 stations in the capital region operated by JR and other railways. In October 2008, an incident caused faregates and fare adjustment machines at 17 JR West stations across three prefectures to malfunction.


The arm robot verifies the status of a fare adjustment machine.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 08:48 AM   #268
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Violent crime against railway employees at highest levels
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/cri...2008036-n1.htm

Quote:
According to a report by the Japan Private Railway Association released July 7, violent acts against station attendants and crew members inside railway stations and trains reached 752 cases in 2008, the highest levels in history. Over half of the violent passengers were intoxicated. The report includes data from the major private railways, JR East, JR Central, JR West, and the Sendai City Transportation Bureau.

According to the data, 58 percent of the incidents involved intoxicated passengers who turned violent. When analyzed by age group, the largest share—19 percent of cases—involved passengers 60 or over, followed by 18 percent for passengers between 30 and 39. Incidents occurring after 10 pm at night accounted for 36 percent of cases, with faregates being the most common location, at 35 percent.

One case involved a drunk passenger beating a station attendant with an umbrella after being forced off the train. Another case involved two passengers who began arguing with each other. Three station attendants attempted to break up the argument but were injured in the process.

Starting July 15, 61 railway operators throughout Japan will hang approximately 60,000 posters inside stations and trains and launch a public awareness campaign to curb violence against railway employees.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 08:56 AM   #269
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Kyōbashi Station and the theatre district
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/e...907180036.html

Quote:
The epicenter of comedy is born: Kyōbashi Kagetsu (Miyakojima Ward, Ōsaka), which opened in November 2008. The theatre is housed on the fifth floor of KiKi Kyōbashi, a commercial building developed by Keihan Electric Railway near Kyōbashi Station. The theatre has 500 seats, second in size only to the Namba Grand Kagetsu (NGK) comedy hall in Minami, Ōsaka, owned by Yoshimoto Group.

“The next station is Kyōbashi, Kyōbashi…” The audience giggles as the performers imitate the conductors on Keihan trains. The gag was invented by Nakagawa Reiji (37yo), one half of the manzai comedy duo Nakagawa-ke and an avid railfan—so much so, he was managing editor of Railway Laughs, a book examining the private railways of Kansai and Kantō. The gag makes an appearance at every performance at Kyōbashi Kagetsu.

For Nakagawa, who was raised in Moriguchi City, Ōsaka along the Keihan Line, Kyōbashi is a town where the Shōwa Era still remains strong. Just outside the faregates at the North Exit of the JR station is a line of standing bars, their signs advertising “kushikatsu” or “doteyaki” in big block letters. A little further down is the Grand Chateau building, a pleasure palace for adults made famous in commercials.

For the Keihan side of the station, which just recently saw the opening of Kyōbashi Kagetsu, trendy cafes and shops have become commonplace. “Compared to Kita or Minami, it’s definitely rough around the edges, but there are still old folks and children who come. NGK attracts people from all across Japan, but people who come to Kyōbashi Kagetsu are Ōsaka natives. This place is truly Ōsaka’s theatre,” says Nakagawa. The starting point of the area was the black market that assembled around the former Japanese National Railways’ (JNR) Kyōbashi Station, destroyed during air raids. What brought vibrancy and energy to the area were the theatres for manzai comedy and drama performances.

Laugh for tomorrow

Noon on August 14, 1945, the day before Japan surrendered in World War II. Bombs dropped by American planes landed directly on the former JNR Kyōbashi Station. The station was designed such that the Jōtō Line (now the Ōsaka Loop Line) crossed above the Katamachi Line (Gakken Toshi Line). One bomb slipped past the Jōtō Line, exploding near the Katamachi Line platforms where several passengers had scrambled to hide. The number of victims was 500 to 600. The station building itself was completely destroyed.

A temporary station was quickly constructed, and a black market assembled around it. Despite the high prices, many came to the market. Theatres opened nearby three years later.

According to the book Miyakojima: Past and Present, “The theatre stages and movie halls were part of the area’s development into a ‘pleasure town.’” Those were the words of the now-deceased Magara Takehiko, who held several positions, including chief director of the Union of Ōsaka Neighborhood Associations. Magara’s father opened the first theatres in Kyōbashi. The theatres not only showed vaudeville performances, but also drama pieces by traveling actors’ troupes. Sakamaki Akiko (68yo), who owns an okonomiyaki restaurant in Kyōbashi, says she danced on the stage of the theatre once as a child. She still has a picture she took with famous comedian and actor Hanabishi Achako. “The town was bustling with people… It felt alive.”

During Japan’s period of rapid economic growth, the number of passengers using Kyōbashi Station grew. According to the historical records of Miyakojima Ward, JNR daily ridership grew from 47,000 passengers in 1955 to 146,000 passengers in 1970, while Keihan ridership grew from 45,000 passengers to 133,000 passengers.

Gambling on the streams of passengers at the station, restaurant houses and cabaret joints opened up on the east side of the station where the black market used to be. Keihan Kyōbashi Station, which used to be in the very center of the district, was relocated to its current location in 1969.

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

“Bustling Kyōbashi is the new center of east Ōsaka.” That was the catchphrase on posters at Keihan Kyōbashi Station and inside Keihan trains in 1990.

In the 1980s, a skyscraper district was born on the south side of the Gakken Toshi Line. Just in time for the International Garden and Greenery Exposition in 1990, the section of the Ōsaka Municipal Subway Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line between Kyōbashi and Tsurumi Ryokuchi opened for service, and development in the surrounding area continued. The idea was to build a new third urban center (“Higashi”) in eastern Ōsaka, following the lines of the Kita and Minami areas in northern and southern Ōsaka. Keihan was quite liberal in advertising the area, but the name never took on. “Perhaps ‘Kyōbashi’ just sounded better to Ōsaka locals,” says Keihan’s PR group.

While the idea of Higashi might have failed in the end, Keihan continued its efforts to attract a younger passenger market. In 1999, Keihan transformed the west side of the station underneath the tracks into a restaurant arcade, and tried bringing in shops that would attract young women. KiKi Kyōbashi houses Brazilian and Mexican restaurants. “There’s more young people now, so the town feels completely different,” says Yoneda Yukihiro (69yo), who owns a rice shop nearby.

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

This April, posters for Kyōbashi Kagetsu featured portraits of shopowners in the West Street Kyōbashi Commercial Association, one of the local shopping districts. The July posters feature shopowners from the New Kyōbashi Commercial Association located on the east side of the JR Ōsaka Loop Line. Eleven commercial associations crowd into the area surrounding Kyōbashi Station. “Nowadays, there is a distinct difference in foot traffic in Kyōbashi between the various rail lines, but that shouldn’t be. We need to develop the vibrancy of the district as a circle surrounding all the stations,” says Tamaki Kōichi, Vice President of the Miyakojima Ward Commercial Association Union.

For the railfans

Keihan Electric Railway’s most crowded section is from Noe to Kyōbashi between 7:50 and 8:50 in the morning, which sees 40 trains during the course of an hour. According to a report by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), this is the Kinki Region’s largest number of trains per hour for a single line. The ridership on this section alone during this hour is 45,016, third behind the Ōsaka Municipal Subway Midōsuji Line’s sections from Umeda to Yodoyabashi (58,702) and from Namba to Shinsaibashi (52,762).

The title of first in the Kinki Region for number of trains is made possible due to quadruple-tracking for this section between Noe and Kyōbashi. On a typical double-tracked line, the limit is 30 trains per hour, according to the MLIT’s Urban Railway Section.

Keihan began quadruple-tracking the line in 1927. The original tracks were designed with too many curves, and it became necessary to replace them with straight sections to increase speeds. The original plan for the line only envisioned double track, but predicting that the line would see future growth, it was instead quadruple-tracked. By 1980, the section of quadruple track had reached approximately 12 km, at the time the longest among all the private railways.

Walking course

The former Fujita Estate Gardens, a designated Ōsaka Cultural Property, are a 15-minute walk from Kyōbashi Station. The gardens are located on the site of the former estate of Fujita Denzaburō, one of the famous Meiji Era entrepreneurs in the Kansai financial sphere. The Ōsaka Municipal Government renovated the gardens, which feature an undulating landscape of stone waterfalls and manmade hills to please visitors. Another five-minute walk southwest of the gardens brings you to the Kyōbashi bridge across the Neyagawa River, the station’s namesake. Across the bridge is Ōsaka Castle Park. From the observation deck on the eighth floor of the castle tower, visitors can see all of Ōsaka beneath them.


JR and Keihan trains cross paths next to the Grand Chateau “pleasure building.”


Standing bars dominate the east side of JR Kyōbashi Station. The chefs keep pace with the speed of the orders.


The connecting passageway between JR and Keihan is bustling with people. Young entertainers are putting on a show.


Behind the neon signs lining the streets, a JR train slips by.


Keihan trains pass by each other on the quadruple-track section.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 09:09 AM   #270
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JR Nishi-Kujō Station: Nexus of the real-world and fantasy
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/e...906200063.html

Quote:
A train painted with an image of Spiderman arrives at the platform. It’s past sunset at JR Nishi-Kujō Station (Konohana Ward, Ōsaka) on a weekend. The station is bursting with passengers returning from Universal Studios Japan (USJ).

The train stopped in between two platforms, opening both doors. Not knowing which side to get off on, some passengers loitered about. One couple went back and forth from one platform to the other through the train, checking the destinations on the information boards.

Nishi-Kujō Station is designed with two island platforms and three tracks. Yumesaki Line shuttle trains, which carry passengers to USJ, stop in the middle of the two island platforms on the center track, Track 1. The outside tracks at the platforms are used by the Ōsaka Loop Line, as well as by rapid trains to places such as Nara on the Yamatoji Line and Wakayama on the Hanwa Line. Nishi-Kujō Station is a transfer station for lines serving areas throughout the Kansai region.

In 1964, during the age of the former Japanese National Railways (JNR), the station was finally elevated, completing the ring that is the Ōsaka Loop Line. At the time, most of the passengers at the station were laborers at the nearby steel factories and shipyards. “It was busy in the morning, but completely empty in the middle of the day. In the evening, passengers returned to the station, and the bars below the elevated structure were crowded with customers,” recounts Heira Morimasa (74yo), who worked as a station attendant at Nishi-Kujō.

After the 1980s, however, the factories began to shift their operations elsewhere or close completely. After USJ opened to the public on land former industrial land in March 2001, younger passengers, families with children, and foreign visitors at the station surged. A station for laborers was transformed in one stroke into a cheerful atmosphere.

A station for everyone

August 17, 1977, during the height of summer. Normally, the station would be quiet around noontime, but on this day, people were gathered at the former JNR Nishi-Kujō Station.

A continuous track was brought onto the stairs leading to the ticketing area. The event was a public test of stair lifts for manual wheelchairs. The wheelchair was loaded onto the lift and fastened down, and the entire lift moved up and down the stairs. The man in the wheelchair was nearby resident Yoshimoto Akira (75yo). After being diagnosed with vertebral caries at the age of three, Yoshimoto has been unable to use his legs.

There are 20 steps in the stairwell leading up to the ticketing concourse at Nishi-Kujō Station. There are an additional 40 steps up to the platforms, but at the time, the station lacked elevators and escalators. “Every time I used the station, it was like climbing a mountain,” says Yoshimoto.

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

Yamada Haruhisa (67yo), president of ironworks company Yarisute (Sakai Ward, Sakai City), has manufactured conveyor belt systems, as well as electric wheelchairs. A year before testing the stair lift system, Yoshimoto purchased an electric wheelchair from Yarisute.

“Elevators are expensive to install. Do you think you can make a stair lift for wheelchairs?” Yoshimoto asked Yamada, handing him ¥1,000,000 to produce the device.

After work ended at 7 pm at night, Yamada would turn his attention to constructing the lift. Within four months, the prototype was complete. After solving a problem with the tautness of the continuous track chain, Yamada wrapped the gear teeth in rubber, eliminating the danger of slipping when going up the stairs.

After JNR granted permission to conduct a test of the stair lift, the event was publicized to newspapers and television stations. However, Yamada’s company never received any orders for the device, and a machine works company in Tōkyō had been working to produce a more efficient stair lift system, so Yamada abandoned production of his machine. But for Yamamoto, he was still able to achieve his goal of getting people to learn about the need for barrier-free stations.

In the 90s, barrier-free design of public facilities made its way into legislation, and elevators and escalators were installed at Nishi-Kujō Station in 2003. “Passengers with disabilities can now take a rapid train from Nishi-Kujō Station to Kansai Airport, and travel to other countries,” says Yoshimoto triumphantly.

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

Beneath the elevated structure that gave passengers with disabilities so many problems is an area filled with bars. From years past, the place has been a haven for salarymen.

One set of watering holes, Tunnel Yokochō, has six bars in the space of about 20 meters. “Most of our customers are regulars. There’s a factory near USJ, and some workers there come here for a drink,” says Mori Katsuhiro (62), who runs the tavern Sanpei with his wife. Just hearing a few words from his customers makes his day, and is enough to get him through even this recession.

Among another string of bars is an udon restaurant owned by Hatanaka Nobuyoshi (59yo). “Ever since USJ opened, there’s been a lot of young women in their 20s who pass through the station. But the place still feels the same, with the same cheap prices and the same location beneath the tracks. Salarymen still come here to kick back.”

For the railfans

The advertisements for USJ attractions painted on Yumesaki Line trains heighten the anticipation among passengers who are about to enter a fantasy world. The advertisements cover all sides of the train, from front to back. The Spiderman train has an added wow factor as the images also cover the side windows.

There are a total of four types of trains, including a Woody Woodpecker train, a Sesame Street train, and a Power of Hollywood train featuring E.T. and dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. Printed sheets are pasted onto the sides of the train, forming so-called wrap trains, six cars each.

During periods of high passenger volume, such as the New Year’s period and Golden Week, the Woody Woodpecker train is split into two-car units which are then added to the remaining three train types to form limited-time-only eight-car wrap trains. At JR West stations with Green Ticket Counters, passengers can purchase tickets into USJ.

Walking course

A five-minute walk west from JR Nishi-Kujō Station is a mural on the embankment along the Rokken’ya River. The piece is part of an attempt to transform the image of Ōsaka’s Konohana Ward from an industrial belt to an art town. Murals are located in six locations, including the ward offices and parks, and serve as landmarks when walking around the area. Approximately 2,100 people participated in the effort, including everyone from nursery school children to the elderly, and the group met regularly before deciding on images of flowers and people for the murals.


Families exhausted from a day at USJ make their way back home, exiting a train featuring an image of Spiderman.


Beneath the elevated structure at JR Nishi-Kujō Station. The area is lined with pubs and kushikatsu joints.


The wrap trains running on the Yumesaki Line. Clockwise from top left: Spiderman train, Woody Woodpecker train, Sesame Street train, and Power of Hollywood train.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 09:22 AM   #271
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Ōsaka Station: A station almost abandoned
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/e...906230066.html

Quote:
It’s eight o’clock in the morning, and the morning commute rush at JR Ōsaka Station has reached its peak. Commuter trains from all across the Kinki Region arrive at the station’s five platforms and ten tracks, releasing a flood of passengers that blankets the stairs and passageways.

Average daily station entries in 2006 were approximately 423,000. Among JR stations, it’s only fifth—behind Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Tōkyō, and Shibuya—but there was a time when it was number one in Japan.

“The steam train made its way from Gifu to Ōsaka, taking 15 hours. From Ōsaka Station, I could see the barracks of Ōsaka’s black market below.”

That is the introduction to author Miyamoto Teru’s (61yo) autobiographical multi-part novel Ruten no Umi. Modeled after Miyamoto’s father, the story’s protagonist (Matsuzaka Kumago) comes to the black market outside Ōsaka Station in March 1947—one year after Japan’s loss in the war—to make a fresh start in life.

Former House of Representatives member Nonaka Hiromu (82yo), who worked in the Ōsaka Railway Bureau at the time, says, “The area south of the station was where all the illegal liquor was to be had. Vagrants sprawled out and built barracks in the area… It was a tragic scene that is difficult to imagine now.”

But just why did Miyamoto begin his masterpiece autobiography, which is already up to Part 5 and has yet to be finished, with a scene at Ōsaka Station? “By building the story around Ōsaka, I wanted to willfully, yet subtlely draw attention to Ōsaka as a unique and diverse city. Like so many Kansai natives, for me, Ōsaka Station is a house of memories.”

Yet there was a plan to abandon this station, at the center of the city and foot traffic, and build a new station at a new location.

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

In the early 1950s, Ōsaka Station was suffering from subsidence at several locations throughout the station structure.

The east end of the station had sunk as much as 1.7 m, causing the track grade to surpass seven times the standard grade. The grade was 25 permil (for every 100 meters traveled across the surface, there is a vertical difference of 2.5 meters). Vertical gaps developed in the concourse area as well. The existing stairs and slopes scattered throughout the station are a remnant of that phenomenon.

When express trains departed Ōsaka bound for Tōkyō, the wheels on steam locomotives made a roaring sound as they slipped on the tracks. On locomotive wasn’t enough, so two were used to pull the train. Ballast was kept underneath the tracks and raised when needed, but the tracks would sink with the extra load, causing a vicious cycle that earned Ōsaka Station the reputation as the most dangerous spot on the Tōkaidō Line.

In 1952, Nisugi Iwao (92yo), who would later become president of the Japanese National Railways (JNR), was promoted to assistant chief of JNR’s Ōsaka Construction Office, but was immediately faced with devising a counterplan. He created a team with members from the Railway Technology Research Center and sought to establish the root cause of the problem.

In excavation tests of the ground underneath the station, the team dug through a soft layer of ground known as Umeda clay, finally reaching a solid layer of ground known as Tenma gravel 30 meters below the ground. Just as the source of the name Umeda is said to come from “filled earth,” it was as if the station was built on a block of tōfu.

The foundation of the elevated structure used a mix of pile lengths, some of which reached the Tenma layer and some of which didn’t. This resulted in the station not subsiding as one structure, but only subsiding in sections, causing vertical differences.

“It wasn’t as if we had a solution that we knew would definitely solve the subsidence problem, so the proposal to abandon the existing station and build a new one further north was actually under consideration,” recounts Nisugi.

The plan would have moved Ōsaka Station to the site of the current Higashi-Yodogawa Station, but considering the prime location of the existing station, the effect on Ōsaka’s transport network, and the huge costs, the proposal was shelved.

Instead, it was decided that the shorter piles would be replaced with longer piles below ground, using an as-yet relatively unknown construction method known as underpinning.

Construction workers entered a 1.2 m-diameter hole, shoveling earth out of the hole 25 meters down. It was harsh work, and a miracle that there were no incidents. The chief of the Ōsaka Construction Office at the time, Kyōto University professor emeritus Amano Kōzō (79yo), prayed that an earthquake wouldn’t strike and carefully watched as his workers continued digging.

By 1962, a total of 245 piles had been replaced in five years, and the subsidence was stopped. That same year, a law regulating the drawing of water from below ground was enacted, and the cause of the subsidence was finally resolved.

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

On the north side of Ōsaka Station, a new 28-story station building is being constructed. An elevated bridge will be constructed over the platforms, and above that, a massive dome. The newly transformed station will enter service in 2011.

In the early hours of July 4, I went to Ōsaka Station. At 1:08 am, a Hayabusa / Fuji sleeper limited express train bound for Kumamoto and Ōita boarded the last of the passengers, and departed from Platform 4. When the red taillights disappeared into the darkness, the station returned to silence. As I stepped onto the empty platform, I remembered the legacy of the workers before me who toiled invisibly below ground, but whose hardship makes the future station possible.


Construction and redevelopment continues at JR Ōsaka Station. Passengers waiting for a limited express bound for the Hokuriku region form a silhouette.


Construction of the new station building proceeding on the north side of the station. The building, together with the North Yard area, is set to become a new symbol of Ōsaka.


As a result of historical subsidence, the stairwells inside JR Ōsaka Station seem like a maze at times.


The morning rush hour. Waves of passengers queue up on the Ōsaka Loop Line platforms.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 09:26 AM   #272
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Wakayama Electric Railway mulls through-service with JR, Nankai
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/kink...0249001-n1.htm

Quote:
Starting in 2009, Wakayama Electric Railway (HQ: Wakayama City) will begin work on consolidating the three transformer substations on the Kishikawa Line (Wakayama – Kishikawa, 14 km) into one location over the course of three years. The improvement project is being undertaken to upgrade aging equipment. But because the voltage of the overhead catenary will be increased to JR and Nankai Electric Railway standards, the project is drawing attention as a possible step towards realizing through-service from the Kishikawa Line to the JR and Nankai lines, a proposal that was initially discussed in the Wakayama City Council.

Substation upgrade is the key

In 2003, the survival of the Kishikawa Line was put into question when Nankai Electric Railway announced its intention to abandon the line. Okayama Electric Tramway (HQ: Okayama City) established Wakayama Electric Railway and inherited operations of the line in April 2006.

The three substations for the Kishikawa Line located at Idagiso, Kanroji-mae, and Nichizengū inside Wakayama City have begun to show their age. In 2005, the Wakayama Prefectural Government agreed to provide financial assistance up to a maximum limit of ¥240 million to complete the upgrade. Due to exorbitant costs of the upgrade, however, the financial aid from the prefecture is insufficient and the railway has yet been unable to summon the rest of the cost. In 2009, after financial aid from the national government was opened up to construction projects on local and rural lines, the upgrade is finally set to begin with funding from both the national and prefectural governments.

Since the maintenance costs for the existing three substations are too high, the system is being consolidated into one location, and overhead voltage is being increased from 600 V to 1500 V. As a result, Wakayama Electric Railway voltage will become identical to JR and Nankai voltage, and it will soon be possible for the Kishikawa Line, which also operates on the same gauge as the other two, to run through-services onto the other two operators.

The benefits and issues

If through-service is realized, trains on the Wakayama Electric Railway can enter the JR Kisei Line at Wakayama Station. At Wakayama Station, the trains could also enter the Nankai Line, allowing the possibility to connect Kinokawa City and Kada in Wakayama City with one train.

The Wakayama City Council, which has been pushing for through-service operations, notes several benefits to the proposal, including ease of transfers and reductions in waiting times. The through-service line would become an attractive mode of transport for commuting workers and students, as well as the elderly, and facilitate sales of units at the Skytown Tsutsujigaoka residential development along the Nankai Line. The through-service operation could also improve mobility for tourists and visitors and revitalize the city.

However, many issues still remain to be resolved before the plan can be realized. The line would need to be upgraded with automatic train stop (ATS) to prevent collisions and speeding, and an integrated schedule between the various operators would need to be developed. Some have also suggested that train operators may suffer increased mental stress as the train enters a totally different environment. The Hanshin Namba Line, which opened in March, allows for through-service between Kintetsu and Hanshin trains and has improved access between Nara and Kōbe. According to representatives from both operators, however, extra effort was placed into safety training for employees and trial runs helped ensure that no major problems occurred.

Tama train?

For financially-strapped Wakayama Electric Railway, no serious consideration has yet been given to the through-service proposal, which would require a larger amount of financial investment to realize. “We’re busy just trying to increase our regular ridership,” say representatives. The railway has caused quite a storm with a calico cat named Tama as stationmaster and unique train designs, resulting in an annual ridership increase from approximately 1.92 million in 2005 to over 2.00 million in 2008. Whether these efforts will ensure long-term status in the black, however, is still unclear.

The City Council stresses that by increasing the service area, ridership will also increase and help solidify the survival of the Kishikawa Line. There are many issues yet to be resolved, but if the popular Tama Train runs on JR and Nankai lines, the council hopes it will result in a synergetic effect for all railway operators.
Wakayama Electric Railway is quite famous in Japan for taking branding and train design to a whole new level.


Source: ayokoi on YouTube
Tama Train. The design theme is based on the mascot of the railway and designated stationmaster, Tama, a cat.


Source: norimonopodcast on YouTube
The Ichigo Densha (“Strawberry Train”).


Source: Wikipedia
The Omoden, or Omocha Densha (“Toy Train”).


Source: Wikipedia
Omoden.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 09:28 AM   #273
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Keiō: Ensoku ni Ikō

This is Keiō Group / Keiō Electric Railway’s latest ad campaign. The catchphrase “Ensoku ni ikō” means “Let’s go on a trip,” and the ads are centered around Mt. Takao, which is at the very west end of the Keiō network in Hachiōji City. The mountain is a popular hiking spot, especially during autumn, and has good views of western and southwestern Tōkyō, as well as Yokohama area and Kanagawa Prefecture. The image character is actress Hirosue Ryōko. The theme song is by singer-songwriter Kumaki Anri.
The official website is http://www.keio-ensoku.com/

Some commercials:

“Confession on the Mountaintop” (30s)

Source: mcbeeryoko on YouTube

“A Warmhearted Town” (30s)

Source: hlw8888 on YouTube

“Spring Green” (30s)

Source: mcbeeryoko on YouTube

“Autumn Leaves” (30s)

Source: tokyo802saru on YouTube

“Long-Awaited Trip” (30s)

Source: tokyo802saru on YouTube

Some wallpapers:
Replace “1024_768” with “1280_1024” in the source URLs for the images below to get higher-res versions.











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Old July 22nd, 2009, 09:50 AM   #274
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WTF! That looks like a taxi stand. Do people not own a single car in Tokyo or what!
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Old July 25th, 2009, 06:51 AM   #275
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Nagoya Municipal Subway posts budget surplus 
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/...290155934.html

Quote:
According to a 2008 financial performance report from the City of Nagoya Transportation Bureau, the Nagoya Municipal Subway is back in the black for the first time in 27 years. Various cost reductions, including pay cuts, as well as ridership increases, helped stabilize the subway’s balance sheet. Among the nine cities in Japan with subways, only three cities were operating in the black in 2007: Tōkyō, Sapporo, and Ōsaka.

According to the financial performance predictions, revenue increased by 0.8 percent to ¥83.3 billion, while expenditures decreased by 3.3 percent to ¥81.5 billion, resulting in surplus of ¥1.8 billion. The numbers indicate that the drastic administrative changes that began in 2006 have achieved their targets two years ahead of schedule.

In addition to the completion of the Meijō Line loop, increased ridership on city buses (and transferring passengers on the subway) as a result of a new commuter pass system valid on all city buses contributed to the achievement. Daily subway ridership reached a new all-time high of 1.17 million passengers. In addition, expenses were reduced by ¥900 million after employees received pay cuts between 5 and 13 percent. Through a special exemption by the national government, the Bureau was able to refinance existing loans, reducing interest payments by ¥2.5 billion over the previous year.

In the past, the subway recorded surpluses during the opening year, as well as when the base fare was increased from ¥100 to ¥120 in 1981. After that, however, things turned for the worse, and in 1994, the subway was at a structural deficit, ¥44.5 billion in the red. According to the Transportation Bureau, this marks the first time since opening that the subway is actually making an operating surplus.

The accumulated deficit, however, is still a whopping ¥318.6 billion, and the Bureau is expecting to draft a financial stabilization plan this year.

According to the 2008 financial outlook, the city bus service is receiving a boost from increased ridership, with revenue increasing by 3 percent to ¥24.3 billion. Expenditures increased by 3.1 percent to ¥24.3 billion, resulting in a budget surplus of ¥900 million, the third straight year in the black.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 06:55 AM   #276
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Committee recommends construction freeze for Nagoya Municipal Subway
http://chubu.yomiuri.co.jp/news_kan/kan090724_1.htm

Quote:
On July 23, the Municipal Transport Operations Administrative Reform Committee (Committee Chairman: Dōshisha University Professor Aoki Mami)—composed of various experts to deliberate ways to stabilize the financial state of the Nagoya Municipal Subway and Municipal Bus operations—submitted to the city its recommendations to freeze construction of new subway lines.

“In tandem with preserving current service levels and increasing ridership by commuters traveling to work and school, an optimization of labor costs is also required” in order for the municipal transport system to continue to fulfill its duties, emphasized the recommendations. In regards to the budget deficit in municipal bus operations, the proposal recommended additional financial support from the city’s general fund.

For subway expansion proposals including the Kamiida Line extension (Heian-dōri – Marutamachi) and East Line (Sasashima – Takabaribashi), the proposal recommended freezing the projects, citing that “as long as no feasible funding assistance can be worked out, implementation would be extremely difficult.”

However, the proposed increase in the maximum subway fare to ¥320 coinciding with the extension of the Sakura-dōri Line (Nonami – Tokushige), as well as other possible fare changes, were not included in the recommendations. “The subway’s annual budget is now operating at a surplus, and we can no longer raise the fares according to government standards. However, the fare structure must be reevaluated in the future,” says Committee Chairman Aoki.

According to 2008 financial reports, the actual deficit had reached ¥237.5 billion for the subway and ¥10.5 billion for municipal bus services, throwing both operations into insolvency. The committee has been deliberating for nine months since last autumn to draft a financial stabilization plan in accordance with the Local Government Financial Reconstruction Law.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 07:00 AM   #277
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A selection of pictures of rolling stock, from operators throughout Japan…

Seibu 30000 series

Source: www.tj-62g.com

Tōbu 50070 series

Source: www.tj-62g.com

Yokohama Minatomirai Railway Y500 series

Source: http://pacaonly.jp/rinkane/

Keikyū 1000 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: Sato244 on Flickr

Hankyū 9300 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: kroooz on Flickr

Tōkyō Metro 10000 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: tobu_special_exp on Flickr

Kintetsu 9020 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: kroooz on Flickr

Hanshin 1000 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: kroooz on Flickr

Tōkyū 5000 series

Source: nicotrain.wiki.fc2.com

JR East E233 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: NAGA-MOTO on Flickr

Fukuoka City Subway 3000 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: ttbus on Flickr

Nankai 50000 series
image hosted on flickr
[/img]
Source: muzina_shanghai on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: muzina_shanghai on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: Fukkun_CFP on Flickr

Meitetsu 2300 series
image hosted on flickr

Source: siegzeon1033 on Flickr
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Old July 25th, 2009, 07:00 AM   #278
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
WTF! That looks like a taxi stand. Do people not own a single car in Tokyo or what!
People do own cars but in Tokyo there is no for one because they have such great public transportation.

Many use taxis just like people in NYC use taxis.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 07:18 AM   #279
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Tōkyō: Part 5

Time to head back to central Tōkyō for a bit…
I board a Keiō Line train headed back the other way to Shinjuku and transfer at Meidaimae to the Inokashira Line. The Inokashira Line is the other main line in the Keiō network, serving Shibuya Station, but it’s substantially shorter than the Main Line. It also operates at a different gauge, and the trains are only five cars long, although the frequency is pretty much maxed out (28 tph during the peaks, 15 tph off-peak). Meidaimae is the single transfer station between the Main Line and Inokashira Line, and sees a lot of transferring passengers, as well as people coming in and out of the station (82,550 daily entries and exits in 2008).

This is at the platform for the Inokashira Line at Meidaimae, facing north (outbound), towards Kichijōji. The road crossing above the tracks is National Route 20 (Kōshū Kaidō), and above that is Shuto Expressway Route 4.

image hosted on flickr


A Keiō 3000 series train. This unit was manufactured by Tōkyū Car Company in 1984. The end cabs on each Inokashira Line train are painted pastel colors. This one is light green, but the set of liveries also includes violet, salmon pink, beige, blue-green, light blue, beige, and ivory. Here, passengers board an express train bound for Shibuya.

image hosted on flickr


After boarding a local train, we arrive at the Shibuya terminal for the Inokashira Line. This 1000 series train is part of the newer set of trains for the Inokashira Line. The station itself is quite small in size for a terminal, with only two tracks, meaning that turnaround must be fairly quick. In the background, the 3000 series express from earlier departs the station in the other direction, bound for Kichijōji.

image hosted on flickr


The station has one island platform serving both tracks, and a disembarcation-only platform for Track 1.

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


Terminal-style faregate arrangement, with one long array to handle the surge of passengers during the rush-hour. Although the Inokashira Line is small by Tōkyō standards, the Shibuya terminal still handles about 343,000 passengers a day (2008). The pink gates are PASMO / Suica only.

image hosted on flickr


The view from the end of Track 1.

image hosted on flickr


We get back down to street level… Our next destination is the Fukutoshin Line.

image hosted on flickr


This is across from the Hachikō Exit of JR Shibuya Station and nearby the famous scramble crosswalk, looking at the Tōkyū Department Store. This is actually the Tōyoko Store. The flagship store is actually located a block and a half further away from the station.

image hosted on flickr


More of the station complex. This massive multi-level bridge connects the station with Shibuya Mark City.

image hosted on flickr


After entering the faregates, we make our way down to the Fukutoshin Line platforms. The Fukutoshin Line is a little over a year old now, and is the latest subway line to open in Tōkyō. It will also be the last subway line built by Tōkyō Metro, at least for the time being. The station was designed by famous architect Andō Tadao. Here, a nice effect has been achieved with color-coded floor-to-ceiling signange. Green is virtually unanimous with JR.

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


Down on the platforms. We are standing on top of a temporary catwalk across the inside tracks, which are currently not in use. Once construction begins for the connection with the Tōyoko Line, however, these catwalks will be demolished, overhead installed, and the inside tracks converted for use.

image hosted on flickr


Here, a Tōkyō Metro 7000 series train waits at the platform, on a local run for Kiyose Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. The Fukutoshin Line isn’t entirely new… The section between Kotake - Mukaihara and Ikebukuro was actually opened about fifteen years ago as part of the quadruple-tracking of the Tōkyō Metro Yūrakuchō Line. At the time, the line was temporarily called the Yūrakuchō New Line, basically running an express service between Kotake - Mukaihara and Ikebukuro, with no stops in between. After the opening of the section between Ikebukuro and Shibuya, however, the line was renamed the Fukutoshin Line, because it passes through the three subcenters of Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, and Shibuya. The impetus behind the line was to relieve overcrowding on the parallel aboveground section of the Yamanote Line and Saikyō Line / Shōnan-Shinjuku Line.

image hosted on flickr


The 7000 series train departs the station.

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


I board a Seibu 6000 series express for Hannō on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line.

image hosted on flickr


I disembark at Nerima Station. The Seibu 6000 series is the Ikebukuro Line’s exclusive series for subway through-services with the Fukutoshin Line and Yūrakuchō Line. Because of the complexity of operation and the different technical requirements of subway lines versus typical at-grade or elevated commuter lines, operators usually have special stock just for through-servicing. The white front on this unit indicates that it has been outfitted with all the necessary equipment and received all the necessary modifications for Fukutoshin Line through-service (as well as Tōyoko Line through-service in the future).

The LED sign on the front of the train has been changed to show “rapid.” The Fukutoshin Line is the second Tōkyō Metro line to run express services (the first is the Tōzai Line, but it’s express segment is actually towards the outskirts of the line, while the Fukutoshin Line’s express service is within the main section in central Tōkyō). As a peculiarity of through-servicing, however, sometimes the naming conventions and / or operations of express vs. local service don’t necessarily carry over from one operator to the other. In this case, our express has become a rapid.

image hosted on flickr


Nerima Station is somewhat of a dark horse, but it is a respectable hub of rail service, with the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, Seibu Yūrakuchō Line (first opened in 1983 specifically for through-service with the subway lines), Seibu Toshima-en Line (serves a theme park owned by Seibu Group), and the Toei Subway Ōedo Line.

Here, a Seibu 3000 series train (a local for Ikebukuro) sits across from a Tōkyō Metro 7000 series train on Platforms 3 and 4.

image hosted on flickr


A local for Hōya pulls up to Platform 2. Bright yellow is the traditional color of Seibu Railway, but this is slowly being phased out with newer trains like the Seibu 6000, 20000, and 30000 series.

image hosted on flickr


A semi-express for Ikebukuro pulls up alongside to Platform 3.

image hosted on flickr


A complete look down the full length of the train. This set is a mixed formation 8+2.

image hosted on flickr


The Fukutoshin Line and Yūrakuchō Line also both operate through-service with the Tōbu Tōjō Line as far as Shinrin Kōen Station in Saitama. Although the section between Kotake - Mukaihara and Ikebukuro is quadruple-tracked and the two can run independently, between Wakōshi and Kotake - Mukaihara, the Fukutoshin Line and Yūrakuchō Line share tracks.

Old and new again on our platform, for Ikebukuro, Shibuya (via Fukutoshin Line), and Shin-Kiba (via Yūrakuchō Line).

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


On Platform 3.

image hosted on flickr


Rapid for Shibuya.

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


In addition to four tracks stopping at the station, there are also two tracks on the outside for express trains that skip the station.

image hosted on flickr


Bicycle parking at the station, beneath the tracks.

image hosted on flickr


To be continued…
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Old July 27th, 2009, 07:40 AM   #280
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Nishitetsu ¥100 Bus celebrates 10th anniversary, but overall bus operations still in the red
http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/keizai/d...OYS1T00261.htm

Quote:
Nishi-Nippon Railroad’s (Nishitetsu) Fukuoka City Center ¥100 Bus, which allows passengers unlimited rides inside the city center for only ¥100, celebrates its tenth anniversary this July. While ridership on the service is increasing as the line becomes a critical mode of transport for city residents, the revenue situation for bus operations as a whole remains difficult at best.

In order to stem declining bus ridership, in July 1999 Nishitetsu kicked off the service, which allows passengers to ride within the central city—including Tenjin and Hakata Stations—for a flat fare of ¥100 (the original base fare was ¥180). Ridership is trending upwards and has reached a total of approximately 51,000 passengers a day inside the city center area in 2008, 80 percent more than before the service started. In 2001, similar areas surrounding stations operated by Nishitetsu and other companies in the Fukuoka, Kita-Kyūshū, and Kurume areas were also established.

According to the Japan Bus Association, the number of bus operators throughout Japan who have lowered fares has increased from 102 companies in January 2001 to 292 companies in April 2007. Among those, Nishitetsu’s ¥100 Bus is “one of a few successful examples that has resulted in a substantial increase in ridership.” By putting an end to the vicious cycle of ridership decline leading to fare increases leading to further ridership decline, the service has made notable achievements in the recovery of bus operations and has become an “easy and casual mode of transport for city residents,” says the Kyūshū Transport Bureau.

However, “deficit lines” running in the mountain areas has dragged down the operational profits of Nishitetsu’s bus services. The entire Nishitetsu bus network has been in the red since 2002. “The budget surplus from the ¥100 Bus services is already minimal as is, and isn’t enough to cover the operational deficits on unprofitable routes,” say Nishitetsu executives. In addition, the economic slump and discounts on the electronic toll collection (ETC) system have increased private automobile use, decreasing ridership on highway express buses. The highway express buses had been operating at a profit, but face difficulties with ridership declining by 10 to 20 percent. Starting this autumn, Nishitetsu will discontinue its overnight express bus between Fukuoka and Miyazaki.

Although the ¥100 Bus area could be expanded with the hopes of increasing passenger demand, the reality remains that there are very few areas where a sufficient increase in ridership could justify the reduced fare. But of course, increasing fares during a recession would only push more riders away. Nishitetsu plans to reevaluate many of the lines operating at a deficit, with the possibility of discontinuation or service reductions on routes, primarily highway express buses.
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