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Old July 31st, 2013, 09:57 PM   #5841
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Improvements to Ushiku Station East Exit station plaza to be completed in FY2015
牛久駅東口広場:改修に10月着工 15年度内に完成 /茨城

http://mainichi.jp/area/ibaraki/news...40033000c.html

Ushiku City in Ibaraki Prefecture has announced that it will break ground on improvements to the East Exit station plaza at Ushiku Station on the Jōban (Rapid) Line starting in October. The upgrades will cover 6,000 sq m at the station plaza and 2,000 sq m of surrounding roads, and would segregate pedestrian and traffic flow and construct new bus and auto pick-up / drop-off zones. Total construction cost is approx. ¥535 million, but thanks to grant funding, the city will only have to pay about ¥164 million out of its own pocket. Completion is scheduled for FY2015.

===

This is a semi-major station on the Jōban (Rapid) Line east of Toride, with 13,800 average daily boardings (FY2012). It used to be much larger, with 21,600 average daily boardings in FY2000, although it has dropped substantially since then.

E531 series departing Ushiku:

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Old July 31st, 2013, 10:00 PM   #5842
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Groundbreaking for Block 3 of Musashi Urawa Station area redevelopment
武蔵浦和駅周辺開発、最大規模の第3街区起工

http://www.saitama-np.co.jp/news/2013/07/31/07.html

Construction work has begun for Block 3 (2.6 ha) of the Musashi Urawa Station Area Redevelopment Project in Minami Ward, Saitama City, comprising 770 residential units spread across five buildings (including a 32-story highrise), a mall, office space, and a community space, scheduled for completion in March 2016.

Musashi Urawa has been designated a sub-center of Saitama City, and has good rail access, served by both the Saikyō Line and the Musashino Line. Redevelopment is planned for a total of 9 blocks (30 ha) in the immediate vicinity of the station, with several blocks already completed:

Block 1: Plum City
Size: 58,000 sq m GFA
Buildings:
B1F – 28F (309 residential units, 16 retail spaces, 803 bike parking spaces)
B1F – 10F “South Pier” (Saitama City Minami Ward Offices, community center, library, elderly care center, child support center
B1F – 2F (59 auto parking spaces)
There’s also a 16,500 sq m GFA building that hasn’t broken ground yet.

Block 2: Lamza Tower
Size: 72,600 sq m GFA
Lot: 10,400 sq m
Buildings: B1F – 27F, B1F – 7F
Land use: 326 residential units, retail, office, 1,500 bike parking spaces

Block 4: NALIA
Size: 76,300 sq m GFA
Lot: 12,200 sq m
Buildings:
B1F – 28F (139 residential units, retail)
B1F – 29F (253 residential units)
1F – 6F (retail, auto parking)

Block 6: Live Tower
Size: 43,900 sq m GFA
Lot: 5,300 sq m
Buildings: B2F – 38F (334 residential units, bike parking)

Block 8-1: MUSE CITY
Size: 90,300 sq m
Lot: 17,700 sq m
Buildings:
B1F – 31F (343 residential units, clinic)
B2F – 4F (14 residential units, retail, auto parking)
B1F – 4F (retail)

This new Block 3 is the largest of all the blocks:

Size: 95,400 sq m
Lot: 19,100 sq m
B1F – 32F (776 residential units, 535 auto parking spaces, 2,640 bike parking spaces)

Renders:





===

With Blocks 5, 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, 8-2, 8-3, and 9 still left, plus portions of some of the other blocks already partially completed, Musashi Urawa is really starting to fill out. It’s not as tall as Musashi Kosugi in Kawasaki, but still pretty impressive. At build-out, I imagine it will be at least 3,000 residential units, plus all the retail and office. The station itself is getting some major improvements as part of these projects as well, including a large pedestrian deck connecting into the station and new station plazas. Will be interesting to see what effect build-out will have on Saikyō Line loads, already one of the most crowded in Tōkyō.
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Old July 31st, 2013, 10:01 PM   #5843
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Shared Tōkyō Metro / Toei faregates coming to Roppongi Station in September
六本木駅、都営地下鉄利用者のメトロ改札通過サービスを実施…9月27日から

http://response.jp/article/2013/07/31/203324.html

We already heard about this a while ago, but a few more details announced on 2013.07.30 about this other piece of news coming from the committee meetings between Tōkyō Metro, the MLIT, and the TMG about how to consolidate services on Tōkyō’s two subways.

On 2013.09.27, Toei Subway Ōedo Line passengers coming will be able to use the Tōkyō Metro Hibiya Line platforms and Tōkyō Metro faregates to get directly to and from the Roppongi Hills area. Currently, these passengers cannot access the Tōkyō Metro faregates and must ascend to street level, without direct underground access to the Roppongi Hills area. Passengers receive a ticket that allows them entry into the Hibiya Line station for free, then transit through the Hibiya Line platforms to the opposite end of the station at Roppongi Hills.

A similar system will be rolled out at Monzen Nakachō Station (Toei Subway Ōedo Line and Tōkyō Metro Tōzai Line).

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Old August 1st, 2013, 10:29 PM   #5844
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SUGOCA circulation tops 1 million cards
SUGOCAの発行枚数が100万枚を突破(JR九州)

http://www.paymentnavi.com/paymentnews/33448.html

Official JR Kyūshū press release:
http://www13.jrkyushu.co.jp/NewsRele...0?OpenDocument

On 2013.07.29, SUGOCA circulation topped 1 million cards, a total of 1,613 days after the launch of the JR Kyūshū’s IC card system in March 2009. SUGOCA is accepted at about 15,800 stores in its home service area, including JR Kyūshū’s Amu Plaza malls in Hakata, Kokura, Nagasaki, and Kagoshima; retail shops inside train stations; conviene stores; Aeon malls; MaxValu stores; and drink vending machines.

Growth in circulation has been steady:

50,000 cards: 2009.03.29 (20 days after launch)
300,000 cards: 2013.03.24 (389 days); launch of reward points system (2012.02.01) and interoperability with nimoca, Hayakaken, and Suica (2010.03.13)
500,000 cards: 2011.03.23 (753 days); opening of JR Hakata City (2011.03.03) and launch of interoperability with ICOCA and TOICA (2011.03.05)
800,000 cards: 2012.12.02 (1,374 days); expansion of SUGOCA coverage to Nagasaki, Ōita, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima
900,000 cards: 2013.04.04 (1,497 days); launch of interoperability (2013.03.23)
1,000,000 cards: 2013.07.29 (1,613 days)
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Old August 1st, 2013, 10:30 PM   #5845
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Systems operator for Kumamoto IC card system to be selected in September
熊本市電ICカード事業者募集 来月に候補決定

http://kumanichi.com/news/local/main/20130801006.shtml

The Kumamoto City Transportation Bureau has begun the process of selecting a firm to operate the IC card system planned for introduction to the city’s trams and buses. Proposals are open to firms issuing any of the 10 existing card systems participating in nationwide interoperability (Kitaca, Suica, PASMO, TOICA, manaca, ICOCA, PiTaPa, SUGOCA, nimoca, and Hayakaken). The deadline for submitting proposals is 2013.08.13, with the city selecting a preferred candidate on 2013.09.13.

The system will be rolled out with interoperability with the other 10 cards, and is planned to launch this fiscal year on the city’s trams. By FY2014 close, the city is aiming to complete integration of all functions into the card system, including commuter passes. The contract technically only covers systems work to be completed in FY2013, although project proposals and operating costs will be evaluated for FY2014 and onwards. Estimated bid price, not including a commuter pass system, is approx. ¥133 million. As the five major private transit operators in Kumamoto Prefecture are hoping to introduce a local-only card without nationwide interoperability, the city has also requested that proposals submit a separate cost estimate to make the local-only cards compatible with the city’s card.

===

As mentioned previously, the private transit operators are not convinced of the merits of nationwide interoperability, and are requesting that the city provide 100% of the funding to provide nationwide interoperability for the card system. SUGOCA would seem to be the most logical choice for the contract.
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Old August 1st, 2013, 10:31 PM   #5846
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Kyūshū Shinkansen boosts ridership on Kumamoto trams
熊本市電90年目 新幹線開業効果で乗降客増

http://kumanichi.com/news/local/main/20130801002.shtml

On 2013.08.01, Kumamoto’s municipal tram system is celebrating its 90th anniversary. At one time, the system seemed destined for abandonment thanks to growing motorization, but the system survived and is now resurging, with annual ridership for FY2011 topping 10 million for the first time in nine years thanks to the completion of the Kyūshū Shinkansen’s Kagoshima route.

The system opened on 1924.08.01 on two routes: Kumamoto Station – Jōgyōjimachi (浄行寺町) (4.3 km) and Suidōchō – Suizenji (now Suizenji Kōen) (2.2 km). At its peak, there were a total of 7 lines and 25 km in the system, but with the growing popularity of the private automobile, the tracks gradually vanished, with talk of complete abandonment in the 70s. The oil crisis, however, gave new life to the system, and it survived, reaching its current state of 2 lines across 12 km.

Since FY2004, annual ridership has been trending around 9 million, but in FY2011, it increased 6.9% year-over-year to 10.19 million thanks to growing tourist numbers due to the completion of the Shinkansen between Hakata and Kumamoto and the completion of the new transit hub at JR Shin-Suizenji Station. Fare revenues grew 6.5% to ¥1.1997 billion thanks to the introduction of a flat fare system (¥150 for adults, ¥80 for children) in October 2006, continuing a streak of growth since FY2009. The flat fare structure makes the system easy to use for visitors and reduces dwell time at stops, as well as rewarding long-distance users with discounts.

The city isn’t content to rest on its laurels, saying that the improved performance is mostly due to external factors. While the tram system recorded a regular surplus of ¥3.26 billion in FY2011, this includes some money from the city’s general funds (about ¥834 million), and when including the city’s bus operations, the system as a whole is running with a cumulative loss of ¥2.9 billion.

In addition, the MLIT has directed the city’s Transportation Bureau to make improvements to accessibility and safety improvements to tram stops, including installation of truncated dome tiles (点字ブロック) and platform fences. Many of the stops are too narrow for today’s standards, and only 19 out of 35 stops are accessible to wheelchairs, although the city has been implementing accessibility improvements since FY2009, prioritizing high-ridership stops. So far they’ve completed upgrades at 8 stops, including the Kuhonji Intersection (九品寺交差点) stop. The work requires widening to at least 1.5 m as required by the New Barrier-Free Law (バリアフリー新法) established in 2006, but with limited financial resources, they can only complete one or two stops a year, and it’s unclear when they will be completely finished.

With the growing ridership has also come increased crowding during the morning and evening rush hour. There have been some situations where passengers after the first stop on a trip have been left behind due to overcrowding. The city recognizes the need for improvements, but service already operates at 3-minute headways during the morning rush hour, and they have a limited number of operators (about 70) and cars available.

Passengers boarding at the Shin-Suizenji Station stop during the morning rush hour:





===

Too much ridership is a good problem to have. Thankfully, the system survived long enough to see the Shinkansen extension… I loved both Kumamoto and Kagoshima when I visited precisely because they were so easy to get around.

The tram system in 1989:

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Old August 1st, 2013, 10:32 PM   #5847
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Hankyū Bus announces major service changes for Nishiyama–Tennōzan Station opening
阪急バス、大幅減便や廃止 運行計画の変更案が判明

http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/politics/a...20130801000044

In coordination with the scheduled opening of the new Nishiyama–Tennōzan Station on the Hankyū Kyōto Line in December, Hankyū Bus has announced some major changes to its services in Nagaoka-kyō City and Ōyamazaki Town. The biggest changes are major cuts to service on routes serving residents living in close proximity to the station, most of whom are expected to switch from bus to train.

In particular, the Kanegahara (金ケ原) routes will see 40% of its service cut (from 85 trips a day to 47 trips a day), as most of these neighborhoods are within walking distance of the new station. The Saihōji (西法寺) routes through the Enmyōjigaoka neighborhood (円明寺が丘団地) will be eliminated completely, but Hankyū Bus is considering replacing service to these areas by rerouting buses out of JR Yamazaki Station currently serving the Tomooka (友岡) area. The company has said that it will minimize service cuts on morning commute period service to JR Nagaoka-kyō Station. Both Nagaoka-kyō City and Ōyamazaki Town have asked that the bus operator reconsider the cuts. Routes between Kugai (久貝) and JR Nagaoka-kyō Station will be routed to serve the new station, but will drop from 35 trips a day to 20 trips a day.

Other changes not specifically tied to the new station involve consolidating and cutting service on the Imazato (今里) and Takinochō (滝ノ町) circulator routes (from a total of 25 trips to 8 trips), abandoning some routes along Bunka Center-dōri (文化センター通), and abandoning some lightly-used (1 trip each Saturday and Sunday) routes out of Higashi-Mukō (東向日).



===

Hankyū Bus action at JR Nagaoka-kyō Station:



The new station under construction (2013.06.01):

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Old August 1st, 2013, 10:33 PM   #5848
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Keikyū to sell corporate naming rights for stations
京急電鉄、駅名看板に企業名表示 「副駅名称」を販売

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNZO...00C13A8L82000/

Official Keikyū press release:
http://www.keikyu.co.jp/company/2013...12390;  .pdf

Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū Corporation) has begun selling naming rights to its stations. The contracts cover the secondary station names (副駅名) that show up on station signage.

The first station selected for the program is Umeyashiki Station (梅屋敷駅) on the Keikyū Main Line in Ōta Ward, Tōkyō, where “Tōhō University” is now displayed (東邦大学前) on station name signs. The project is part of an effort to enhance the railway’s local roots, offering naming rights to local corporations, schools, hospitals, and other facilities. While a lot of railway companies in Japan sell naming rights in a similar fashion, most put the names on a separate sign underneath the main station name signs. Keikyū’s method of implementation, which places the corporate names directly onto the station name signs, is rare.

The contracts are one-year terms, but can be extended if wished, and are available at a total of 66 stations on the network (some of the stations, such as the Haneda Airport International Terminal Station, are not included in the program). Rights will only be awarded to one entity at each station at a time, and will only be offered to major public facilities or high-profile stock companies. Product brand names, slogans, or logo marks are not allowed, and the names will not be announced on PA systems or shown on route maps.

===

Image from the press release:



Evening rush hour at Keikyū Kamata Station, Platforms 2 / 3 (2013.06.18):



Morning rush hour at Shinagawa Station:

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Old August 1st, 2013, 10:34 PM   #5849
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Close to 9,000 Suica cardholders request to be removed from “big data” sale
Suica履歴、削除申請8823件 JR東の販売問題

http://www.asahi.com/national/update...308010298.html

On 2013.07.26, JR East began accepting requests from individual cardholders to have their usage statistics withheld from the railway’s plan to team with Hitachi to offer Suica statistics for sale to third parties. In the six-day period (through to 2013.07.31), the company announced that a total of 8,823 individuals had requested to have their usage data omitted from the program.

===

A detailed FNN news report (2013.07.19) about the program:

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Old August 1st, 2013, 10:35 PM   #5850
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Seibu opens bidding process for construction of Shinjuku Line grade-separation project
西武、新宿線中井~野方間地下化の土木工事を発注へ…2020年度の完成目指す

http://response.jp/article/2013/07/30/203202.html

Official Seibu press release:
http://www.seibu-group.co.jp/railway...tai_130729.pdf

On 2013.07.29, Seibu Railway began the bidding process for construction contracts to implement the continuous grade-separation of about 2.4 km of the Seibu Shinjuku Line between Nakai (中井) and Arai Yakushi-mae (新井薬師前), specifically between the west bank of the Myōshōji River (妙正寺川) in Kamitakada 5-chōme, Nakano Ward and the east end of Nogata Station (Nogata 4-chōme). The project involves undergrounding the line on this segment to remove seven grade crossings, with the intermediate stations at Arai Yakushimae and Numabukuro (沼袋) replaced with new underground stations. The new (replacement) stations will be island platform layout, with Arai Yakushimae having two tracks and Numabukuro having four tracks. Total project cost is ¥72.6 billion.

Construction will take place over about 2,360 m of the line with retaining walls and box tunnels (i.e., cut-and-cover) on about 600 m and bored tunnels on about 900 m. The station sections and the connections at either end of the segment will be placed on temporary support frames to allow them to excavate and build the station structures and track approaches. The rest will be single-bore tunnels excavated by shield machines. Construction will last from November through to March 2021.







===

Uncut 46 minutes during the morning rush hour at Numabukuro Station (7:20 to 8:20 departures from Takadanobaba Station). As we can see the station is currently four-track, but only has side platforms, so it’s likely they expect do some major schedule changes once the undergrounding is complete.

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Old August 2nd, 2013, 09:59 PM   #5851
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West Exit improvements at Nagaragawa Railway’s Seki Station to be completed in March
長良川鉄道・関駅西口の整備本格化 来年3月末完成予定

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/gi...102000029.html

Seki City has finally begun the heavy work for improvements at the West Exit of Seki Station (Higashi-Sakuramachi, Seki City) on the Nagaragawa Railway. The 7,900 sq m project site is currently a parking lot for the city’s cultural hall, but will be redesigned to house a bus terminal, waiting area, park-and-ride lot, and a connecting passage to the station. The project also includes other functions related to disaster response, including construction of emergency rations storage and emergency toilets in the parking lot, combined with a 100-ton underground potable water tank that has been under construction since August of last year. Total project cost is ¥250 million.



===

Railfan-oriented tour of the railway:

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Old August 2nd, 2013, 10:00 PM   #5852
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Niigata City to delay purchase of articulated buses for BRT line
連節バス購入議案、提出見送りへ

http://www.niigata-nippo.co.jp/news/...802058462.html

For Niigata City’s proposed BRT line, targeted for a launch in FY2014, it has been revealed that the city is looking to delay the purchase of articulated vehicles for the service, which they had originally hoped to get City Council approval for in September. Originally, the city had proposed a one-week trial in late August to test the buses, borrowing existing vehicles already in operation in other parts of Japan. Faced with requests for more time from citizens and the City Council, the city has instead decided to secure more time to test the buses and convince the public of the safety and convenience merits of the buses in the fall.
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 10:01 PM   #5853
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Metro Seven project would cost ¥1 trillion
メトロセブン 新地下鉄構想で整備費1兆円

http://www.kentsu.co.jp/webnews/html...801500037.html

A working group (環七高速鉄道(メトロセブン)促進協議会) comprising Edogawa, Katsushika, and Adachi Wards has released some of the results of their study on the proposed 60.2 km Metro Seven line linking Kasai Rinkai Kōen and Den’en Chōfu. According to the study, use of a new “smart linear metro” currently under development, together with reductions in bored tunnel diameter and station size, would reduce the cost of the project to approx. ¥1.0168 trillion.

===

Unfortunately, the rest of the article is protected by paywall. This is definitely one of the more intriguing rail proposals in Greater Tōkyō, and involves creating a new circular arc through the inner suburbs of the metropolis. I would imagine the cost to be on the low end, given that the Tsukuba Express (58.3 km) cost ¥900 billion, and that’s with only some underground, with much of the line in undeveloped areas. This line will likely need to be almost entirely underground and will pass underneath dense, already developed parts of the metropolis.

A Tōkyō MX feature on the Metro Seven project (2013.06.03):



Keisei Bus currently operates an express bus service on a similar route to the proposed alignment, connecting Kameari and Koiwa Stations to Kasai Rinkai Kōen Station via Ichinoe and Kasai, with transit signal priority. Full-length cab view (2012.12.02):

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Old August 2nd, 2013, 10:02 PM   #5854
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Ginza Line Shibuya Station construction, Part 2
ヒカリエの隣でひそかに進行、渋谷駅移設準備
驚異の工事現場シリーズ

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNAS...3A720C1000000/

This is the second part of that Nikkei feature on construction.

What the 157 m long Segment 2 of the project looked like in 2011.07, before the opening of Hikarie (April 2012). This was the first segment to be worked on, and consists of viaduct in between stations, followed by embankment and eventual tunnel as the line dives underground. Without Hikarie on one side and another commercial building on the other, they can’t work from either side, so the first thing is to build a 10 m wide platform directly above the existing tracks to serve as a construction staging area. Work began in June 2009 and is being executed by Tōkyū Construction (東急建設) and Taisei Corporation (大成建設).



Segment 4 is located approximately in the center of the East Exit transit plaza. Two new columns sandwich the existing viaduct taking trains straight into the Tōkyū department store, which closed at the end of March 2013.



As mentioned previously, the work involves relocating the current station integrated inside the Tōkyū department store (left) east to a new location on viaduct (right), and converting the layout from side platform to island platform.



The work on Segment 2 also involves excavating beneath the existing viaduct to create space to house undergeround facilities needed for the relocated station. This means placing the existing track and other infrastructure on temporary supports while they dig out everything underneath. The retaining walls here feature vibration-absorbent materials to prevent noise and vibration from transmitting to the adjacent Hikarie theatre space used for musicals.



After completion of excavation work, which was carried out between October 2011 and May 2012. Excavated soil was then transported up to the new platform above the tracks and moved off-site. This empty space will house the new transformer station.



Staging platform under construction. Work could only be completed in the few hours when trains are not in service.





The main work completed in the 50 m long Segment 4 thus far is the construction of Column P4 (actually one column, but it splits into two at ground level). The work was carried out by Tōkyū Construction, Shimizu Corporation (清水建設), and Kashima (鹿島), with the viaduct switched over to temporary supports between August 2011 and January 2012 and the new Column P4 completed in April 2013. The new platforms will be built directly atop this new column.



The tolerance for subsidence of the existing track and viaduct as a result of the switchover to temporary supports was 3 mm for the first phase of construction. After some checks to confirm everything was OK, the tolerance for the second phase of construction was 5 mm.



Coordination is also needed with the land readjustment project (土地区画整理事業) related to the East Exit transit plaza improvements, particularly with regards to deliveries, materials storage, and staging. The land readjustment project will construct a water storage tank and public plaza underground directly beneath the Ginza Line, with the Shibuya River running directly above that.

The schedule for the remaining work is also affected by the demolition schedule for the Tōkyū department store. They are scheduled to switchover the track inside the building to temporary support frames this autumn, afterwards beginning construction of Column P3 and then construction of the new platforms. Completion is scheduled for FY2021.

===

If you’re curious, another Nikkei article has a little bit on the history of the Ginza Line’s Shibuya Station:
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNZO...3A610C1L71000/

The current design of the station is a result of efforts by Gotō Keita (五島慶太), the man who founded the Tōkyō Electric Express Railway (東京急行電鉄), what is now known as Tōkyū Corporation. Tōkyū’s Shibuya Station opened in 1927, the same year that the Asakusa – Ueno section of the Ginza Line opened. Gotō, at the time an officer of the railway, had visions of transforming Shibuya—virtually rural in comparison—into one of Tōkyō’s main rail terminals, and part of this plan was ensuring direct access to Ginza and central Tōkyō.

The west end of the Ginza Line first opened in 1938 between Shibuya and Toranomon, and was eventually extended to Shimbashi in the following year, all thanks to Gotō’s efforts under the auspices of the Tōkyō Rapid Railway (東京高速鉄道). This was a separate company from the eastern end of the Ginza Line, so this interlining was one of the first examples of subway through-service in Japan. Orignally, the Ginza Line’s Shibuya Station only passed alongside the Tōkyū department store, crossing above the Yamanote Line tracks and entering platforms built into the third floor of a separate building. After World War II, the department store expanded and eventually enveloped the station.
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Old August 4th, 2013, 09:21 AM   #5855
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Big changes in store for Hankai Tramway
阪堺線、乗客回復さらに 低床式車両導入や駅バリアフリー

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNZO...00C13A8LDA000/

The Hankai Tramway between Ōsaka City and Sakai City was at one time in danger of abandonment due to declining ridership, but operations have been secured after Sakai City agreed in 2011 to provide funding to support operations for 10 years. Now, big changes are in store thanks to that funding, including the introduction of the first new low-floor LRVs in revenue service in 2013.08.25. Ridership has rebounded thanks to fare discounts, and another big push is around the corner with major redevelopment projects underway at Tennōji Station in Ōsaka, but it’s not clear whether the tramway will be able to stand on its own two feet before Sakai City’s funding runs out.

Hankai Tramway began operating the first new LRV, nicknamed the “Sakai Tram”, from July to early August. The low-floor design makes boarding and alighting easier for elderly passengers, passengers with strollers, and passengers in wheelchairs. Each new train costs ¥250 million, with Sakai City funding two-thirds and the national government funding the remaining third. Another two LRVs are scheduled to enter service starting next year.

For the time being, the LRV will be operated between Abiko-michi (我孫子道) and Hamadera Ekimae (浜寺駅前), but will also begin operating to Tennōji Station after road widening in the Abeno area being carried out by Ōsaka City is complete. Currently, passengers can only use an underground pedestrian passage to get to and from the Tennōji tram stop, but the the stop will be moved to the west in the future and made barrier-free.

With the growing adoption of private automobiles and competition from parallel rail lines, the Hankai Tramway has shrunk to a mere 10% of original levels over the course of 50 years. Originally, Sakai City had planned to take over poorly-performing segments of the tramway and incorporate them into a new, modern light rail line connecting the city’s downtown with its waterfront districts, but a new solution was needed after the LRT plan was shelved.

In October 2010, Sakai City agreed to provide a maximum of ¥200 million annually for ten years in an effort to promote ridership, helping to offset the ¥3 billion cost of upgrades and improvements to aging, inadequate infrastructure. Since January 2011, the fare between Sakai City and Ōsaka City has been cut from ¥290 to ¥200, and a new discount fare structure for elderly passengers has also been introduced.

According to Sakai City, the introduction of discounted fare programs has increased average daily ridership by about 1,500 passengers. While the results have exceeded original projections of a 600-passenger increase, Sakai City is still looking for ways to secure the profitability of the tramway, which the city says will require an increase of daily ridership of about 4,000 passengers. The tramway is eager to get back on its feet before the 10-year funding program ends, and is working to both decrease expenses and increase supplementary revenues from real estate and other sources.

In addition to the new LRVs, the next widely-anticipated change in store for the tramway is the introduction of an IC card system for contactless fare payments. The new system will be rolled out this fiscal year at the cost of ¥450 million and make it possible to offer a variety of discounts, including for transfers with buses or for short-distance trips. The tramway is also working on establishing a new stop in Sakai City between Higashi-Minato (東湊) and Ishizu (石津). Other changes are coming, with Sakai City working on establishing a new cultural and tourism hub on the site of the city’s former Sakai Hospital near the Shukuin (宿院) tram stop in FY2014. The city is hoping to then establish a bike rental system to take advantage of tourism sites along the tramway.

Mothers with strollers test out the new low-floor LRV:





===

Annual ridership on the tramway at its peak (FY1951) was 61.86 million, but that dropped to 7.22 million in FY2009, and has now risen to 7.76 million in FY2012. Not mentioned in the Nikkei article, but in a separate Mainichi Shimbun article, is that donations are helping to fund the new LRVs. Sakai City established a special tax deduction program that allows people to donate money towards the purchase of the new LRVs, with passengers donating ¥30,000 or more getting a nameplate installed inside the new trains. They raised ¥11.70 million in the first year of the program and another ¥1 million this year, with more than half of the donors coming from outside Sakai City, including places as far as Kyūshū and Hokkaidō.

The new LRV operating a (paid) test ride (2013.07.27):

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Old August 4th, 2013, 09:24 AM   #5856
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New Tanbo Art Station opened on the Kōnan Railway Kōnan Line. As mentioned previously, this is a temporary station open primarily to facilitate access to the crop artwork displays in Ōshū City.

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Old August 4th, 2013, 05:54 PM   #5857
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I remember seeing on YouTube videos of some of the current Hankai Tramway rolling stock--some of it dating from the early 1930's! Small wonder why they need to get new rolling stock as soon as possible.
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Old August 4th, 2013, 09:53 PM   #5858
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Yui Rail adds announcements in native Okinawan
しまくとぅばで各駅語る ゆいレール案内好評

http://article.okinawatimes.co.jp/ar...13-08-04_52489

Capitalizing on positive public opinions received in a similar effort for the 5th World Uchinanchu Festival (世界のウチナーンチュ大会) in 2011 and requests from local citizens, the Yui Rail has permanently introduced announcements in native Okinawan (しまくとぅば) at all 15 stations. The announcements are in addition to the existing announcements in Japanese.



===

You can hear all of the station announcements here:
http://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/special/shimakutuba

The first half of the links are the versions from the World Uchinanchu Festival, in Okinawan only. The second half are the new announcements, in both Japanese and Okinawan.
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Old August 4th, 2013, 09:55 PM   #5859
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Renovated Hiroden Hatsukaichi Station open
広電 廿日市駅が木造で新しく!広い駐輪場もある爽やかな佇まいに

http://tabetainjya.com/archives/hatsukaichi2/post_2985/

Many railfans mourned the demolition of the last wooden station building on the Hiroden network in autumn of last year, but the station building has been reborn in new style and was opened to the public on 2013.08.01.

The station has been relocated about 50 m east from its previous location. Previously, roadway access to the station required driving down a narrow alley, but the relocation has allowed them to construct a wider road for direct access. They’ve also constructed a new station plaza / rotary to serve connecting modes including private autos and taxis.





The site of the old station building has been converted into bike parking.







Not clear whether this will be a waiting room or maybe some station retail. They used wood abundantly in the new design.



Video:

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Old August 4th, 2013, 09:57 PM   #5860
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New station buildings coming to Shiozaki Station
JR東日本、中央線塩崎駅に新駅舎を建設へ…南北両側に駅舎を整備

http://response.jp/article/2013/08/04/203656.html

Official JR East press release:
http://www.jreast.co.jp/hachioji/inf...30802_info.pdf

On 2013.08.01, JR East and Yamanashi Prefecture’s Kai City (甲斐市) announced that new station buildings would be constructed at both the North Exit and South Exit of Shiozaki Station on the Chūō Main Line as part of barrier-free improvements to be completed by October 2014.

Shiozaki Station opened on 1951.12.25 as a two-track, side-platform station. There is no platform bridge to cross the track, and there wasn’t even a headhouse at either side when it first opened. A headhouse was eventually constructed on the south side of the station for the outbound track, with a convenience store as a tenant. The convenience store closed in 2007.

The improvements will construct new 2-story, steel-reinforced concrete headhouses at both the North Exit and South Exit of the station. The buildings will include accessible ramps to take passengers directly to the second-floor platforms. The South Exit headhouse will feature a Western-style design with a curved exterior, while the North Exit headhouse will be a Japanese-style design, emphasizing columns and eaves. The platforms will also undergo improvements, including canopy installation and widening.









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