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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:45 PM   #501
quashlo
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The ever-present Yamanote Line: Part 2
Building friendships starting from Ōsaki

http://mytown.asahi.com/tokyo/news.p...00550910120001

Quote:
“They used to laugh at Ōsaki since it was always a dark and dead neighborhood,” recalls Tsunashima Nobukazu (60yo), who runs a shabushabu restaurant at the West Exit of Ōsaki Station. Twenty-four years ago, when the storeowners banded together to form a commercial association with Tsunashima at the lead, Ōsaki Station had less than 30,000 entries a day, one of the lowest among the Yamanote Line’s 29 stations.

When racking his brains over how to help revitalize the neighborhood, the idea dawned on him to take advantage of the Yamanote Line trains which ran through the district.

Ōsaki Station, being the closest station to the Yamanote Line’s car yard, has extra tracks to handle trains entering and leaving service at the station, meaning there’s plenty of available dwell time to allow large volumes of people to get on and off the train. Tsunashima realized that the association could rent out a whole train and run it in a loop around central Tōkyō, something that couldn’t be accomplished at Shinjuku or Shibuya, which have limited dwell times.

In 1987, the year JR was born from the Japanese National Railways (JNR), Tsunashima brought his idea to the stationmaster and successfully got the plan approved. Ever since then, the event has become one of the highlight events of the area, running annually every autumn. “The catchphrase now is ‘Next, Ōsaki.’ I’m proud of how far we’ve come,” says Tsunashima, who is on the event’s organizing committee.

After the train departs Ōsaki Station, it makes one full loop on the Yamanote Line over the course of about an hour. At intermediate stations, the doors don’t open. Since the train can’t pass in-service trains ahead of it, it travels at a leasurely pace. Tsunashima emcees the event using the conductor’s microphone.

The train carries close to 1,400 staff and passengers selected by lottery. Everybody from Car No. 1 to Car No. 11 holds hands, plays rock-paper-scissors, sings, dances… At big stations, everyone waves their hands and says hello to passengers on the platform.

“Most people just look at us surprised. As a formerly small station, it’s our revenge, and we relish every minute of it. There’s a sense of unity born out of that,” he says.

Every year, the event invites local residents who have disabilities to join the event. According to Tsunashima, the icing on the cake is seeing the joy on their faces as they get a chance to finally ride the Yamanote Line, which they normally avoid because of the severe crowding despite its proximity.

Nowadays, Ōsaki is classified as an urban subcenter. The industrial uses that once surrounded the station have been replaced with modern office buildings through redevelopment, followed by high-rise condominium towers. The Saikyō Line was extended down and the Rinkai Line opened for service. Daily entries at the station now surpass 120,000 a day.

But according to Tsunashima, “Urban planning isn’t about constructing buildings.” Even if the neighborhood becomes clean and beautiful, Tsunashima questions whether we should be developing places where neighbors don’t even know each other.

“And that’s why I want people to join us for an hour on the Yamanote Line to make friends,” he says. Committed to craftsmanship and creating things with his own hands, Tsunashima says he and the rest of the organizing committee do everything from the preparations to the train operations themselves.

For this year’s 22nd annual event, the chartered train will run the clockwise loop on the afternoon of October 12—oddly enough, the 100th anniversary of the Yamanote Line’s naming.

“We won’t do anything particularly special (for the Yamanote Line’s anniversary), but I feel like its fate that we will be running the train that day,” remarks Tsunashima.


“I’m an Ōsaki fanatic… I grew up here and I’ve dedicated my life to this neighborhood,” says Tsunashima Nobukazu.
Bird’s eye view of Ōsaki Station
image hosted on flickr

Source: pict_u_re on YouTube

Special Tanabata Festival decorations inside the station.
image hosted on flickr

Source: Moriya, Tomo on YouTube

Ōsaki salarymen on the Yamanote Line.
image hosted on flickr

Source: Wayne Lam (Ramius) on YouTube
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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:46 PM   #502
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The ever-present Yamanote Line: Part 3
Tōkyō General Car Center: Yamanote Line depot

http://mytown.asahi.com/tokyo/news.p...00550910140001

Quote:
Yamanote Line trains, their square “faces” showing the white letters of “JR” against a green stripe, are lined in a row.

This is Tōkyō General Car Center, located nearby JR Ōimachi Station. The facility performs maintenance for comparatively new rolling stock running in the Tōkyō area, occupying an area that can fit five Tōkyō Domes. After the last trains of the evening, a maximum of 45 trains spend the night inside the facility on two levels of tracks.

“We are proud to support the No. 1 breadwinner among railway lines,” said senior technician Shibata Tomoyuki (32yo), looking at me straight, face-to-face. Shibata is responsible for maintenance inspection at the center.

In addition to training the 40 or so “craftsmen” who perform train maintenance, Shibata also takes action himself depending on the situation, such as during incidents. The work involves a wide array of maintenance, including both daily spot checks as well as full-out inspections based on distance traveled.

Shibata says that when he first entered the company he would complete his rounds thinking he had done everything by the book, only to go home and begin wondering if he had checked certain things. “If I make a mistake and the trains stop running, it’s a big deal.”

Shibata says he loved trains since he was a kid. He applied at Iwakura High School, which teaches students technical skills related to trains, and afterwards proceeded to vocational school to learn about electronics. When he was accepted into JR in 1998, he was placed in the department handling maintenance work for trains.

He began work just as the newest E231 series trains now used on the Yamanote Line were about to enter service. The new series made complex use of computers and substantial progress was made in automation, such as allowing the trains themselves to inspect door operations and air conditioning equipment and diagnose problems. The control systems also changed substantially.

As operator experience alone became insufficient to ensure complete safety, equipment similar to black boxes became prevalent in many functions. Shibata learned straight from the manufacturers about the structure of the equipment. In 2005, he was promoted to senior technician and began teaching training courses. Some of his students have difficulty with computers. To make the most use of the experience amassed by his senior colleagues, he created teaching material that includes comparisons to older-style rolling stock.

Since ridership on the Yamanote Line is heavy and station distances are short—meaning trains must frequently stop—trains on the line use their brakes more often than on other lines. As a result, maintenance checks on brakes and related equipment becomes even more critical.

Next year, the Yamanote Line’s first platform doors will be installed at Meguro Station and Ebisu Station, part of an effort to prevent passengers from falling off the platforms and into the trackway. As a result, work has begun on installing control devices to prevent trains from overrunning the platforms.

As new technology is constantly being introduced, Shibata responds, “Time to study all over again.” There is no end to the pursuit of safety.

Ridership
Among the Yamanote Line’s 29 stations, the busiest stations by station entries are Shinjuku (766,020 daily entries), Ikebukuro (563,412) and Shibuya (426,317). The least busiest is Uguisudani (23,707). (All ridership figures from 2008).


Shibata Tomoyuki checks the bogies on a train.
Google map of Tōkyō General Car Center:
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=3...01929&t=k&z=16

Some clips of the center

Train car wash:

Source: winkurou on YouTube

Separating car body from bogies:

Source: satoyane233 on YouTube

Photos

image hosted on flickr

Source: takashiku on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: takashiku on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: takashiku on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: takashiku on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: takashiku on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: takashiku on Flickr

Preserved cars:
image hosted on flickr

Source: takashiku on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: kusaker on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: kusaker on Flickr
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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:47 PM   #503
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The ever-present Yamanote Line: Part 4
Preserving brick elevated structures for the future

http://mytown.asahi.com/tokyo/news.p...00550910150001

Quote:
As the red lanters sway side-to-side, a red-faced salaryman stuffs his cheeks with yakitori. He sits underneath the tracks near JR Yūrakuchō Station as Yamanote Line trains relentlessly pass above him.

This red-brick elevated structure is in fact supposed to be Japan’s longest and largest brick structure from the Meiji Era.

“Even more amazing is that it’s continued to support the railway lifeline of Tōkyō for 100 years, through the Great Kantō Earthquake and World War II,” expounds Hōsei University literature professor Nakagawa Hiroshi (46yo), who calls for reexamining the historical value of the structure as a legacy of Japan’s industrialization. Nakagawa is also the director of the Industrial Archaeology Society.

The continuous brick arches start near Shinbashi Station and continue all the way to Tōkyō, a length of about 3 km. Completed in 1907, the structure uses approximately 20,000 pine-tree piles as foundation in the weak soils. After finishing each brick one-by-one by hand, they were placed on top of each other to form the structure we see today.

At the time, officials considered using steel instead of brick, which would have required importing materials from overseas. Brick, which was attainable domestically and had few noise concerns, was instead selected.

Afterwards, for the elevated structure between Kanda and Ueno, which was completed after the Great Kantō Earthquake, reinforced concrete was used. “Brickwork is the essence of Meiji Era construction techniques, and is thus a historical treasure,” says Nakagawa.

Nakagawa specializes in Japanese history, particularly the history of transportation in Japan. Steam locomotives have disappeared like the wind, lines have been discontinued left and right, and large-scale redevelopment is occurring at stations throughout the country. As the vestiges of history were being lost moment-by-moment, Nakagawa sensed a crisis in the making.

“I want to help preserve the history and role of railroads in the development of modern-day Japan for our children,” he says. He has surveyed railway facilities throughout the country, and if necessary, has petitioned officials to preserve them through the Industrial Archeology Society. Since early on the society has called for the preservation of several railroad-related structures, including the brick arch bridge on the Usui Pass in Gunma Prefecture, selected in 1993 as the first of Japan’s “heritages of modernization” and an Important Cultural Property.

There are several important pieces of history along the Yamanote Line, including Japan’s first major reinforced-concrete arch bridge between Tōkyō and Kanda. Parts of the brick arch structures on the Yamanote Line have already been lost in the redevelopment of the Shiodome area.

“When they disappear, you don’t realize until it’s too late. Through the Yamanote Line, which is so familiar to all of us, I want people to realize the value of these structures as a legacy of Japan’s industrialization,” explains Nakagawa, who expects to hold special field visits and plans to petition officials to preserve the structure.

The bars tucked in the arches beneath the Yamanote Line in and around Yūrakuchō Station are very popular among salarymen. As you have a beer and something to eat, you can hear the rumble of the trains above you.


On a rainy night, Nakagawa Hiroshi walks along the brick wall beneath the elevated structure near JR Yūrakuchō Station.
image hosted on flickr

Source: puffyjet on Flickr

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Source: Alfie | Japanorama on Flickr

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Source: humbletree on Flickr

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Source: stella boyland on Flickr

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Source: digital bear on Flickr
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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:47 PM   #504
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The ever-present Yamanote Line: Part 5
In-train ads: Perfection to the millimeter

http://mytown.asahi.com/tokyo/news.p...00550910160001

Quote:
Snap, snap. The sound of the holders keeping the posters in their place echoed in an empty train inside the carbarn. One-by-one, the colorful advertisements hanging from the ceiling and above windows were switched out with the newest set.

Kobayashi Makoto (35yo), who has been working this job for 8 years, carries with him a bag holding a thick bundle of posters and a custom-made stepladder. His midday shift of four 11-car trains involves going up and down the 37-cm tall ladder, 350 times each day. The work requires constantly moving his legs and back, and raising his arms up and down.

“I always tell myself to do everything by the books so I don’t make a mistake. The more you get used to it, the easier it is to get overconfident,” he says.

Kobayashi works for the Yamanote Office (Shinagawa Ward) of Tōkyō Media Service, which is responsible for installing and removing advertisements on JR trains and stations. From 8:00 one morning to 3:00 the next morning, employees change out 90 percent of in-train advertisements at the Yamanote Line carbarn. Thanks to a large ridership (and a large captive market), the Yamanote Line is a cornerstone of advertisement on public transportation.

The posters above windows are 36.4 cm tall and 51.5 cm wide. There are 28 ads per car hanging from the ceiling along the center aisle, switched out every two days. The ads above the windows are switched out every four days, with 54 spaces per car. The work changes day-to-day, with each ad scheduled to be switched out on different days, and some “wide-version” ads being twice the width of normal ones.

Every morning, the six workers spend one hour organizing the posters in the proper order for the day’s work. For ads hanging from the ceiling, the left and right posters must be more than 1 mm apart from each other, and the bottom edges must be perfectly horizontal. Rips or creases are a no-no. Spaces above the windows are curved, so posters placed there can easily droop down. The professionals’ pride is being able to do one train cleanly and accurately in an hour.

Kobayashi says the skin on his fingers has become completely smooth from handling countless posters everyday with his bare hands. Apparently, when you get really skilled at the work, your body begins to produce natural oils. During winter, it’s easy to get paper cuts, but since blood on the posters is taboo, adhesive bandages are a necessity.

After finishing off one train, Kobayashi does run-throughs down the full length of the train to make sure he has exchanged the proper posters and everything is in the correct place. Afterwards, a colleague will come by to do a second check.

“When I ride the Yamanote Line as a regular passenger, I get easily bugged when the ads slip out of place, so I sometimes fix them myself,” says Kobayashi, scratching his head a bit.

15 minutes a ride
According to JR East’s Tōkyō Branch Office, the average passenger ride on the Yamanote Line lasts 15 minutes, or about 3 to 5 stations. Train crews switch every full loop around the line, with a single train passing by each station as many as 20 times a day.


Kobayashi Makato switches out ads inside a train at Tōkyō General Car Center.
JR East also offers full advertisement “rent-out” of its trains, and this is commonly done on the Yamanote Line by big corporations that are launching a new product or service. Depending on the time of the year, this can range anywhere from ¥15.8 million to ¥23.1 million per train for a half-month.

Some clever forms of advertisement in trains and statins:

Electric paper ad (Lancôme Paris) on the Tōkyō Metro Ginza Line:

Source: sample12japan on YouTube

Low-energy electric paper ad trial at JR Ebisu Station:

Source: gizmodojapan on YouTube

Moving ads at Shinjuku Station:

Source: sample12japan on YouTube

Interactive ads using mobile phones:

Source: sample12japan on YouTube

Inorganic EL ad:

Source: sample12japan on YouTube

Hanging ad inside train using fabric and other materials (Suntory Iyemon tea):
image hosted on flickr


Some more creative ads:
http://pingmag.jp/2006/10/13/top-10-...rain-stations/
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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:47 PM   #505
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Nakanoshima Line’s first year: A look back and ahead
http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/eco/news/...OYO8T00754.htm

Quote:
On October 19, Keihan Electric Railway’s Nakanoshima Line (Tenmabashi – Nakanoshima, 3 km) will celebrate its first anniversary. While the line has helped build new streams of passenger traffic, ridership from business passengers and other customers is stalling as a result of the economic slump, with ridership at 30,000 a day, far short of the 80,000 passenger target. In an effort to increase ridership and help revitalize the Kansai region, several future proposals are being considered with high hopes, including connections to other lines and extension of the line from the current terminus at Nakanoshima to Ōsaka City’s third sector-operated World Trade Center (WTC) Building.

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

It’s a little past 6:00 pm near Watanabebashi Station on the Nakanoshima Line. Businessmen quickly make their way on foot in the direction of Umeda. “My company is strict and won’t subsidize my transportation costs to Umeda. It’s a bit of a shame since it would be really convenient otherwise,” remarks one male office worker (26yo).

The main reason behind the line’s troubles is a struggling business passenger market. Passengers with commuter passes represent about 50 percent of traffic across the entire Keihan network, but only 30 to 40 percent of the traffic on the Nakanoshima Line. There are a substantial number of commuters who transfer from Umeda—with connections to JR, Hankyū, and Hanshin—to the subway to reach the Nakanoshima Line. “We suspect there may be a large number of corporations on the line that are attempting to keep down employee transportation expenses,” say representatives of Keihan Electric Railway.

On the other hand, the line has brought new activity to the area. The Rihga Royal Hotel, connected to Nakanoshima Station via underground passages, says that lunch patronage at its restaurants is increasing despite an overall decrease in customers. At the time of its completion in September, a 34-story condominium tower located a three-minute walk from Nakanoshima Station had sold 90 percent of its 343 units, including a ¥300 million penthouse. In both cases, the location nearby the station was received very well.

Some of the more highly-anticipated proposals to revitalize the area include connecting the Nakanoshima Line to other lines and eliminating the “dead end” at Nakanoshima Station.

The first proposal involves having the Naniwasuji Line, which would connect Shin-Ōsaka to Kansai International Airport (KIX) in 30 minutes, connect with the Nakanoshima Line at Nakanoshima Station. There is another proposal to extend the Nakanoshima Line west via Nishi-Kujō Station on the JR Ōsaka Loop Line to Shin-Sakurajima. “Depending on the general state of affairs, we’re basically considering an extension to Sakurajima or further beyond to the WTC,” explains Keihan CEO Satō Shigetaka.

Professor Abe Seiji of Kansai University, who specializes in public services, says, “The start of service on the Nakanoshima Line has helped open up a new outlook on the urban development of the surrounding areas. We should now be looking at expanding our transportation network, keeping in mind the costs versus the benefits and the possibility of expansion or connection to new lines.”
HD cab view (Nakanoshima to Kyōbashi)

Source: webmk on YouTube

Last edited by quashlo; October 21st, 2009 at 07:36 AM.
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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:50 PM   #506
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Keikyū rapid limited express cab view (HD)

Enjoy a ride on a Keikyū Main Line kaitoku (rapid limited express) from Horinouchi Station in Yokosuka City to Shinagawa Station in Tōkyō in HD. This is the fastest regular service train on the Main Line, making the 52 km journey in 50 minutes. This was filmed on Saturday, June 27, 2009, departing Horinouchi at 12:59 pm and arriving at Shinagawa at 1:49 pm.
Source: VVVF2100 on YouTube

Horinouchi to Yokosuka Chūō
Our 8-car train starts at Horinouchi, the Main Line junction with the Kurihama Line, passing through residential areas in hilly coastal towns on the Miura Peninsula before arriving at the central station for Yokosuka City, the home of the U.S. Navy base.


Yokosuka Chūō to Kanazawa Bunko
The train passes one tunnel after another, continuing along the coastline as it passes intimate stations and neighborhoods surrounded by hills. As we approach Kanazawa Bunko, officially part of Yokohama City, we pass Keikyū’s shops and car yard in this area. To the left, we pass a four-car train from the Zushi Line (another branch of the Main Line) bound for Haneda Airport that will be coupled at the end of our train to form a 12-car consist.


Kanazawa Bunko to Kami-Ōoka
The quaint towns and green hills give way to residential development and later skyscrapers as we get closer to the center of Yokohama. We arrive at Kami-Ōoka, a major subcenter of Yokohama City and transfer station for the Yokohama Municipal Subway Blue Line.


Kami-Ōoka to Yokohama
We twist our way through more of Yokohama’s dense residential areas before diving in a shallow trench as we approach central Yokohama. After Tobe, we make a few sharp curves and diving beneath the JR Negishi Line tracks before pulling into Yokohama alongside a JR train to our left.


Yokohama to Keikyū Kamata
We gradually increase our speed on this section running parallel with JR, the fastest section on the line, with 120 kph operation. As we barrel through the backyards of residential homes, we arrive at Keikyū Kawasaki, where the four-car consist at the end of our train is decoupled so that it can continue on its way to Haneda Airport. After departing Keikyū Kawasaki and crossing the Tama River, we dive below the new elevated sections under construction before arriving at Keikyū Kamata, officially part of Ōta Ward, Tōkyō.


Keikyū Kamata to Shinagawa
Continuing below the new elevated structures, we blow by grade crossings at full-speed. We pass a train in special blue livery as we pass Shin-Banba, then diving to ground level at Kita-Shinagawa before making the sharp S curve into Shinagawa terminal. After a short wait for the signal, our journey ends at Shinagawa, but our eight-car train will continue one station further to Sengakuji, where passengers can transfer to an Asakusa Line subway train bound for Keisei Takasago on the Keisei Line.

Last edited by quashlo; October 19th, 2009 at 05:22 AM.
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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:50 PM   #507
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Tōkyō trains 20 years ago

An interesting “time capsule” view of Tōkyō 20 years ago from the eyes of a foreigner. There are plenty of old JNR-era trains and stations that are now long-gone. He has other videos of the era on his YouTube channel as well.
Source: lylehsaxon on YouTube

"Weeknight Trip Home - September 1990"
Starts at Shinjuku, then to Ikebukuro via the Saikyō Line, transfer to the Seibu Ikebukuro Line to Hibarigaoka. A first-generation Red Arrow limited express train (Seibu 5000 series) makes an appearance as it passes Hibarigaoka Station. The Seibu trains are in former yellow-beige livery (nowadays, they’re all yellow).


"Tokyo Sunrise (Nakano to Toride) - July 27th, 1991"
Starts at Nakano, with a ride on the first inbound Chūō Line rapid train (201 series) to central Tōkyō. Quick break at Ichigaya, then a short ride on a Chūō-Sōbu Line local (201 series) to Akihabara. At Akihabara, transfer to a Keihin-Tōhoku Line train (103 series) to Ueno, where he transfers to a Jōban Line rapid train, getting on and off along the way.


Tokyo Station - March 1991
Views of the Chūō Line rapid platforms at Tōkyō Station. These platforms are now elevated.




"Gotanda to Nishimagome to Gotanda" - July 1991
Views of the Toei Subway Asakusa Line (old 5000 series), with a neighborhood walk around Nishi-Magome squeezed in the middle. Finishes off with views of JR platforms at Gotanda Station (Yamanote Line).


"Tokyo Subway (Marunouchi & Tozai) - June 1990"
The old Marunouchi Line trains, with the distinctive red-and-white livery, are still running in Buenos Aires.


"Prelude to Full Train - (Not Again! Yeah, Sorry!)" - 1991 New Edit
Most of you have probably seen clips of this video at Hibarigaoka on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line during the morning rush hour, but this is the original video, with new bits in the beginning and end.


"Shibuya to Hiyoshi - October 1991"
A nighttime trip on the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line.


"Trip to Omiya - 1991"
Starts on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, transfer at Ikebukuro to the Saikyō Line. Views of old JNR trains in Shōnan livery on the Tōhoku Main Line. Towards the middle, an interesting clip of officials trucking away illegally-parked bikes. At the end, the nighttime return to central Tōkyō.


"Gotanda to Shinjuku (& Ikebukuro)" - July 1991
Views of the Yamanote Line.
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Old October 19th, 2009, 02:04 AM   #508
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Quote:
Tokyo--Osaka in 67 minutes via Maglev

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

A planned maglev super-fast service will make the trip between Tokyo's Shinagawa and Shin-Osaka stations in just 67 minutes, less than half of the 138-minute trip via the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, according to Central Japan Railway Co.

If the Chuo Shinkansen Line detours in Nagano Prefecture as the prefectural government hopes, the maglev trip will take 74 minutes, the company estimates.

Construction costs will be 8.44 trillion yen for the 438-kilometer direct route proposed by JR Tokai, less than the 9.09 trillion yen for the 498-kilometer route that includes the detour.

The Chuo Shinkansen's Nagoya-Osaka section is scheduled to open in 2045.

JR Tokai forecast the share of air travel linking the Tokyo metropolitan area and the Kinki region will fall from 19 percent against the Shinkansen's 81 percent in fiscal 2007 to 11 percent.(IHT/Asahi: October 15,2009)
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-...910150158.html
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Old October 19th, 2009, 02:09 AM   #509
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Quote:
Yamanote Line mountain spotters denied last glimpse of Fuji by new building

Since this summer, passengers have no longer been able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji from the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo due to the construction of a new commercial building, leaving commuters and enthusiasts of "urban views of Mt. Fuji" heartbroken.

On winter mornings when the air was clear, the peak of Mt. Fuji was visible -- for a fleeting moment, wedged in between buildings -- if passengers were looking southwest from the train between Takadanobaba and Mejiro stations. It lasted less than a second, but captured the hearts of many as a valuable view in the middle of the urban landscape.

Hiroshi Tashiro, 59, head of FYAMAP, a forum on mountain views and maps and a teacher at University of Tsukuba Senior High School, was looking for Mt. Fuji from the train in late September when he discovered, much to his dismay, that it was now hidden. "I'm sure there were many passengers on their way to work or school who looked forward to sightings of Mt. Fuji," he said. "I'm shocked that we've lost a valuable scenic viewpoint in the Tokyo metropolitan area."

According to those affiliated with the new four-story building located approximately 100 meters from the train tracks in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, construction was completed in August. Previously, Mt. Fuji had been visible between Harajuku and Yoyogi stations before high-rise buildings blocked the view, but the latest spot had been the last remaining spot where passengers were offered a view of Mt. Fuji from the Yamanote line.



Mt. Fuji is pictured here between Takadanobaba and Mejiro stations on the JR Yamanote Line in February. (Photo courtesy of Hiroshi Tashiro)
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/...na027000c.html
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Old October 19th, 2009, 04:38 AM   #510
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Shinagawa Station Noodle Shops

My favorite soba stand at Shinagawa Station is the one on platforms 11/12 (down Tokaido Line). The "okonomi soba" on their menu allows you to add your own toppings from a selection placed above the counter. I usually put a big mound of chopped scallions on my soba.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:07 AM   #511
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Interview with Keihan CEO
http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/eco/news/20091019-.htm

Quote:
Keihan Electric Railway CEO Satō Shigetaka accepted an interview with Yomiuri Shimbun before the first anniversary of the opening of the Nakanoshima Line (Tenmabashi – Nakanoshima, 3 km) on October 19. With ridership struggling as a result of the recession, Satō announced the railway’s plans to strengthen PR efforts to increase ridership. By advancing development around stations on the line and increasing activity on Nakanoshima, Satō says he hopes to catalyze the line’s future extension plans.

Ridership on the Nakanoshima Line is at 30,000 passengers daily, and hasn’t reached the target of 80,000 passengers.
“With changes in the financial situation, all of Japan is hurting. The unemployment rate in Ōsaka has increased, which is perhaps the biggest change between when the line was planned and when it finally opened.”

How do you plan on responding?
“We are considering ways to get our customers in the Kyōto area to visit Nakanoshima. Advertising the charm of Nakanoshima’s events at our stations… We’re working with Ōbayashi Corporation on developing a hotel with commercial facilities. Ōsaka City is also planning a museum of contemporary art. If we can bring the younger generation in, the area will only become more attractive.”

There are proposals to extend the line west to Shin-Sakurajima or Ōsaka City’s third-sector WTC Building.
“The extension would enhance the region’s transportation network and increase convenience for passengers. Because of the large costs involved, Keihan can’t accomplish the project on its own, and the government officials need a vision for the extension. First, the Nakanoshima Line must become a catalyst for redevelopment. If Nakanoshima is to become an active area like Manhattan in New York, improving our transportation network is that much more critical.”
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:13 AM   #512
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Tōkyō Metro completes commercial developments at Ikebukuro’s West Exit
http://www.tokyometro.jp/news/2009/2009-50.html

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Tōkyō Metro (HQ: Taitō Ward, Tōkyō; President: Umezaki Hisashi) and Metro Properties (HQ: Taitō Ward, Tōkyō; President: Nakayama Yasutaka) will open Esola, a new commercial building at the West Exit of Ikebukuro Station, on November 27. The new zone of Echika Ikebukuro will also open at the same time, marking the completion of Tōkyō Metro’s above-ground and below-ground commercial development at the West Exit of Ikebukuro Station.

Esola Ikebukuro is a high-quality commercial complex spread over one underground level and nine above-ground levels, with approximately 40 shops including fashion brands and lifestyle goods shops new to Ikebukuro, as well as unique restaurants, cafes, and social dining spots. The two-tone black-and-white building aims to become a new landmark for Ikebukuro’s West Exit.

In addition, ESPACE ART, a new zone of Echika Ikebukuro, will open at the same time in the passage connecting Esola Ikebukuro and already-open Echika Ikebukuro. ESPACE ART will be Echika Ikebukuro’s art-themed zone, a relaxing space with food and drink offering a showcase where visitors can walk and enjoy art.

With the completion of Esola Ikebukuro and Echika Ikebukuro, Tōkyō Metro will stir up Ikebukuro from both below- and above-ground and aim to create a fusion between station and neighborhood.


Echika is Tōkyō Metro-branded and operated ekinaka (retail inside stations). There are two major locations, at Omotesandō (Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, Hanzōmon Line) and Ikebukuro (Marunouchi Line, Yūrakuchō Line, Fukutoshin Line), and a mini-version at Ueno.

Official page: http://www.esola-ikebukuro.com/

Echika isn’t a collection of fast food shops, convenience stores, and run-of-the-mill retail, but rather an array of boutiques and gourmet shops. A lot of attention is paid to maintaining a high-class, well-heeled image that will appeal to shoppers with money and in turn feeds off and gives prestige to the neighborhood around the station as well as Tōkyō Metro. Omotesandō is known as one of Tōkyō’s premier shopping districts, and Echika Omotesandō is designed to play off and complement this:

image hosted on flickr

Source: yuichi.sakuraba on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: yuichi.sakuraba on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: yuichi.sakuraba on Flickr

image hosted on flickr
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:13 AM   #513
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Survey to help determine fate of Ōsaka’s last remaining streetcar
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/trend/...0841005-n1.htm

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On October 26, the Sakai Streetcar Supporters Association (Chairman: Horihata Yoshihide) will launch a survey of city residents to help determine whether or not the 7.9 km section of the Hankai Tramway Hankai Line (Ōsaka City – Sakai City) within Sakai City, which currently operates at a deficit, should be maintained.

The Streetcar Supporters Association was founded in 2003 as the Sakai City section of the line was in danger of abandonment after ridership had continued to drop from its peak in the 1950s and 1960s. The Association has helped support the line by sponsoring events and full-car advertisements.

Originally, Sakai City had planned to introduce light-rail vehicles on a new surface rail line within Sakai City, running the trains as a through-service with the Hankai Line. Facilities and equipment would be owned by the city, while operations would be carried out by a private firm.

But with the election of Mayor Takeyama Osami in the September mayoral elections, the LRT plan was scrapped. Mayor Takeyama has expressed his intention to continue financial support of the Hankai Line, but has yet to reveal specifics on the funding amount, leaving the fate of the Sakai City section of the line in doubt once more.

Faced with these circumstances, the Streetcar Supporters Association will distribute a five-page survey questionnaire to residents and businesses at 15 streetcar stops inside Sakai City including Yamatogawa, Ōshōji, and Hamadera-eki-mae from October 26-30 to determine how critical the line is to residents.

The questionnaire will not only evaluate the necessity for the line, but also the need for funding from Sakai City, how frequently passengers use the line, as well as any problems or inconveniences with the current operations. If a substantial portion of survey respondents request that the line be retained, the Streetcar Supporters Association will submit the survey responses and data as a petition to Mayor Takeyama in early November.

“In 2011, the Hankai Line will celebrate its 100th anniversary. As the only remaining streetcar in Ōsaka Prefecture, we want to see not only the section within Ōsaka City remain, but also the section on the other side of the Yamato River, in Sakai City. We believe residents along the line feel the same way,” say representatives from the Association.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:14 AM   #514
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Suica tops 30 million cards sold
http://www.jreast.co.jp/press/2009/20091014.pdf

Quote:
JR East would like to thank our passengers for helping Suica surpass 30 million cards issued as of Thursday, October 15, 2009. Suica debuted on November 18, 2001, and thanks to continued use by our customers, has reached 30.01 million cards in circulation as of October 15.

Electronic money-compatible Suica cards in circulation: 27.51 million
*The number of cards issued is taken as the number of cards in circulation—i.e., the total number of cards issued, minus returned cards and reissued cards.

Cards in circulation as of October 15:
PASMO: 13.53 million
Total Suica and PASMO: 43.54 million
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:15 AM   #515
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Replacement of JR Jōban Rapid Line bridge begins
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ch...002000091.html

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On October 29, a ceremony was held at Toride Park in Toride (Toride City, Ibaraki Prefecture) to inaugurate the start of construction to replace the Tone River Bridge on the JR Jōban Line (rapid) between Tennōdai and Toride stations, spanning the Tone River, which serves as the border between Chiba and Ibaraki Prefectures. The replacement comes as a result of the bridge’s age, with the new bridge to be constructed between the existing bridge and the bridge for the Jōban Line (local) further downstream.

Construction will begun in November during the dry season, with the inbound (towards central Tōkyō) track to be opened in 2013 and the outbound track to be opened in 2014.

Attendees at the inauguration ceremony included Abiko City mayor Hoshino Jun’ichirō and Toride City mayor Fujii Shingo, as well as JR East vice-president Ogata Masaki. Mayor Fujii, Mayor Hoshino, and others cut the tape to celebrate the groundbreaking and hope for a safe construction period.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:15 AM   #516
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Sales of PASPY exceed expectations
http://mytown.asahi.com/hiroshima/ne...00000910270001

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Popularity of IC farecard PASPY for use on public transport in Hiroshima Prefecture has surpassed expectations, with stocks of the card running low. As a result, the PASPY Management Committee, composed of transit operating companies, announced on October 26 that it will push back the final date for sales of magnetic-based farecards from the end of October to early December instead.

As the successor to magnetic farecards, PASPY has reached 226,000 cards issued as of October 22. Introduction to buses, trains, the JR Miyajima Ferry, and other operators was largely completed by October 17, with the card set to become valid on Seto Naikai Kisen’s Matsuyama ferry route at the end of the month.

Only 140 cards were issued daily during July, but in October, the number surpassed 700 cards daily, reaching 1,100 cards daily for October 19-23. As a result, it’s possible that stocks of PASPY could be exhausted. Hiroshima Rapid Transit, which operates the Astram Line, temporarily stopped issuing PASPY cards as of the end of September, while Hiroshima Bus stopped on October 16 (Hiroshima Rapid Transit now sells only commuter PASPY cards).

As a result, five Committee member companies—Hiroshima Electric Railway, Hiroshima Bus, Bihoku Corporation, Hirokō Group (inside trains only), and Hiroshima Rapid Transit (stations and ticket machines only)—have agreed to continue selling magnetic farecards until early December, when the next shipment of additional PASPY cards is set to arrive.

“The switch happened faster than we expected. There appear to be a large number of users who are unaware that their commuter pass can also be used as a regular PASPY. Since Hiroshima Bus is selling pink-colored cards, it’s possible the card became very popular among female passengers,” says Fukuie Tsukasa, a member of the committee.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:16 AM   #517
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Taxi acceptance of Suica spreads outside of Capital Region
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/chub...1744003-n1.htm

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Starting November 1, JR East’s IC farecard Suica will become valid for payment of taxi cab fares in Niigata City and other areas. According to JR’s Niigata Branch Office, this is the first time Suica acceptance for taxis has been implemented outside of the Tōkyō area.

The accepting taxi companies are primarily based in Niigata City, with all 57 vehicles (including jumbo taxis) operated by Bandai Taxi (HQ: Chūō Ward, Niigata City) and all 48 vehicles stationed at the Nagaoka Office of Chūetsu Traffic (HQ: Sanjō City) accepting Suica as payment. The project is intended to increase convenience for businessmen and visitors from the Tōkyō area.

From November 1 to 15, the two taxi companies will each reward 100 passengers who use their Suica card for payments with special “Penguin Original Labels” featuring Suica’s mascot character.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:17 AM   #518
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Kitaca reaches 200,000 cards in circulation
http://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/press/2009/091025-1.pdf

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IC farecard Kitaca, which began service in the Sapporo metropolitan area on October 25, 2008, has reached over 200,000 cards in circulation as of October 25, 2009, one year after its debut.

The card offers many conveniences such as automatic fare collection and charging and eliminates the need to buy tickets at machines. Passengers can use the card without taking it out of a pass holder. The March 14, 2009 launch of Kitaca electronic money functions and interoperability with Suica also likely contributed to Kitaca’s expansion.

Cards in circulation:
Kitaca commuter passes: 70,000
Other versions of Kitaca (personal / non-personal): 130,000

Circulation trends:
50,000: November 4, 2008 (11 days after debut)
100,000: January 28, 2009 (96 days after debut)
150,000: April 10, 2009 (168 days after debut)
200,000: October 25, 2009 (366 days after debut)
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:17 AM   #519
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Leaders gather for LRT summit in Hiroshima
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/lo...2019005-n1.htm

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Mayors and other top leaders of local jurisdictions looking to introduce next-generation light rail transit (LRT) assembled for a two-day LRT City Summit at the International Conference Center in Hiroshima City starting October 30. Attendees at the first LRT City Summit will discuss attractive but environmentally-friendly and accessible urban planning and design. Light rail is an urban transport system using low-floor and low-noise vehicles and offers a high level of convenience by working together with other public transport modes.

Attendees at the summit include mayors and vice-mayors from 11 cities, including Sapporo, Kyōto, and Matsuyama. Inside one of Hiroshima Electric Railway’s super low-floor Green Mover MAX light rail vehicles, Hiroshima mayor Akiba Tadatoshi took the reins as guide on a trip from Hiroshima Station to the Atomic Bomb Dome.

The mayoral conference meeting included introduction of several case examples from various cities, such as Kagoshima City’s track landscaping and Toyohashi City’s summer “Beer Train” in Aichi Prefecture. In an effort to expand public transport use, attending leaders agreed to strengthen relationships among cities through LRT systems.
Shiyakusho-mae Station (Kagoshima City)

Source: Wikipedia
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:18 AM   #520
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Use of blue lighting increasing, but no scientific proof yet available
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/lifest...0750001-n1.htm

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Increasing use, but lagging scientific proof
Use of blue lighting for various goals such as reducing suicide attempts, deterring crime, and improving the safety of rail operations is increasing. In areas where blue lighting has been introduced, reductions in crime rates and incident rates have been identified. But is there really a direct effect from simply installing the special lighting? Using case studies and expert opinion, we delved into the power behind blue lighting.

One-year trial
“Since blue light is believed to have a calming effect on people’s psyche, we implemented trial installations in the hope of reducing suicide attempts by even a little,” explained JR East’s Tōkyō Branch Office in regards to its program to install blue lighting at JR Yamanote Line stations starting in September. The project was intended to both help prevent suicide attempts and make stations brighter, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Yamanote Line’s naming on October 12.

According to JR East, there were nine suicides on the Yamanote Line in 2006, increasing to 15 in 2007 and 18 in 2008. The blue lighting is installed at platform ends, where the trains enter stations, and will continue as a trial for one year to determine the benefit of the installations.

However, the Yamanote Line wasn’t the first to install blue lighting. JR West has been installing blue lighting since December 2006, with about 60 installations total on the Kansai Main Line and Hanwa Line.

The primary impetus was to reduce incidents at grade crossings. Using the calming effect of blue lighting, JR West hoped to reduce occurrences of people entering the track right-of-way after the crossing arms had begun to close. JR West also hoped to reduce suicide attempts by calming the emotional state of possible suicide victims and helping stop them before it was too late.

After evaluating the situation before and after installation at 37 of these locations, JR West found that the 13 incidents between April 2005 and the start of installation had been reduced to only two incidents from completion of installation to March of this year. A definite benefit was observed, leading to an increased use of blue lighting, such as by Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū) and Seibu Railway in the Tōkyō area.

Variety of goals
There are cases outside of railway operations where definite benefits have also been observed from blue lighting.

Starting in June 2005, the Nara Prefectural Police Department began installing blue lighting in housing estates and bicycle parking facilities as a crime deterrent. After examining the benefits at the 35 locations approximately one year after installation, criminal offenses decreased by 14.9 percent. Based on these results, the installations were expanded to 104 locations and 3,115 units as of April of this year. Central Nippon Expressway Company (NEXCO Central Japan) also changed the lighting near garbage cans at the Yōrō Service Area (SA) on the Meishin Expressway in Gifu Prefecture to blue starting in 2007 in an attempt to reduce the volume of trash. Representatives say trash decreased at the service area by 20 to 30 percent over the previous year.

While use of blue lighting has been spreading, it’s still unclear exactly what benefit the lighting really has. JR West admits that while the number of incidents at grade crossings has dropped, incidents are still occurring. The Nara Prefectural Police Department says that the locations which saw substantial reductions in criminal activity not only had blue lighting installed, but also underwent several other measures, such as increased patrols.

Determination of a real benefit from the lighting requires scientific experiment.

No scientific proof yet

“Blue is believed to have a calming effect on people compared to other colors such as red. But, unfortunately, simply changing the color of lighting to blue won’t prevent crime or suicide attempts, and there is no scientific proof of its effects. There are various policies to help prevent suicides and reduce crime, and I believe we should be considering other countermeasures to solve these problems,” says Suzuki Tsuneo, a professor of color psychology at Keiō University.


Blue lighting installation at the platforms at Ōsaki Station on the JR Yamanote Line (Source: JR East).
Images of the lighting on the Yamanote Line:
http://blog.livedoor.jp/vivit2009p2/...s/1679797.html
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