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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:23 AM   #621
quashlo
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Master Plan for Yokohama Station area released
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ka...202000096.html

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The Yokohama Station Area Renovation Plan Committee, established by Yokohama City to evaluate urban design and planning for the area surrounding Yokohama Station, has finalized its recommendations. On December 1, the proposal was handed to Yokohama City mayor Hayashi Ayako at City Hall by Committee chairman and Tōkyō City University professor Kobayashi Shigenori. The proposal does not specify the exact details such as total project cost and the division of responsibilities with the various railway companies, but City officials say they hope to fully realize the plan by 2020 at the earliest.

According to the recommendations, a pedestrian deck would be constructed at both the East Exit and West Exit parallel to the tracks, connecting to each other above the station. Stairwells and other height differences in the existing underground passages would be removed to improve access. After the 2004 typhoon caused minor flooding in the commercial area outside the West Exit and in other areas, the recommendations also call for flood control countermeasures.

With regards to the station plaza, the recommendations propose unconsolidating the taxi zone and establishing separate smaller zones at each of the station’s major entry and exit points.

The recommendations are composed of three sections—the Urban Planning Vision, the Basic Plan for Critical Improvements, and the Urban Design Guidelines—which the Committee developed through discussions during the course of thirteen sessions starting in May 2007.

“The plan doesn’t mean it’s over… We need to determine the best course of action now. For the time being, we hope the City takes the lead, with help from the private sector,” said Professor Kobayashi. After receiving the set of recommendations, Mayor Hayashi responded, “Development around Yokohama Station is lagging. With a long-range vision in mind, I will do my best to execute the plan.”
The official Yokohama City website for the project is here:
http://www.city.yokohama.jp/me/toshi/tosai/daikaizou/
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:24 AM   #622
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Violence against railway employees on the rise
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...911190395.html

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On November 19, the Japanese Private Railway Association announced that in its review of the 16 largest private railways in the country, there were 115 cases of violence against station staff and train crews during the first half of FY09, a new record. “The root cause may be mounting stress among passengers as a result of this prolonged recession,” said representatives from the Association.

According to the Association, 62 percent of the aggressors were intoxicated. By age breakdown, people in their 30s were the most common aggressors, at 30 percent, followed by people in their 20s at 22 percent, and people in their 40s, 60s, or older with 17 percent. With regards to the motive behind the incidents, 24 percent of the victims said the attacks were sudden and had no reason, while 18 percent of the victims said it was because they had warned passengers about disruptive behavior. Railway companies have been on the defensive, installing security cameras and deploying security guards, but the frequency of incidents appears still to be increasing.

The Association has been collecting data on violent incidents since 2000. Last year, with 236 incidents, marked the first time the number of cases had surpassed 200.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:24 AM   #623
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Toyama gears up for Centram opening
http://mytown.asahi.com/toyama/news....00000911260001

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On November 25, Toyama City mayor Mori Masashi and Toyama Chihō Railroad president Kawagishi Hiroshi held a joint press conference at Toyama City Hall, announcing that the new tram loop through the city’s central areas known as Centram would open on December 23. Officils will offer free rides to the public on the first day and have scheduled a photography session for the new trains. On December 24, trains will beging operating on the typical schedule.

The Centram begins and ends at JR Toyama Station, running in a counterclockwise loop via Grand Plaza-mae and other areas in the Sōgawa District. A single loop takes approximately 20 minutes. From the first train at 6:11 am to the last train at 10:10 pm, 79 trains will run each weekday and 80 trains each Saturday and Sunday. Trains will run every 10 minutes during the midday period (departures from Toyama Station at 9:00 am to 7:00 pm) and every 20 minutes at other periods. Fares are ¥200 for adults and ¥100 for children elementary school age or younger. When transferring with trains on the existing tram network, passengers can receive a free transfer ticket when exiting the train that is valid for the connecting trip.

Officials hope the completion of the tram loop will help revitalize the city’s central area and help contribute towards the development of a city that is not reliant on cars, particularly in the face of an aging population. In the past, a tram had originally operated along much the same alignment until 1973, but the network was consolidated after the spread of private automobiles. “The completion of the loop has critical significance in our effort to move away from complete reliance on cars and towards lifestyles that also encourage public transportation,” said Mayor Mori.
Apparently, I misunderstood the article I posted last time (here) when I said the trains would be a three-color livery. There’s actually three different trains, one white, one silver, and one black.

Videos of the new Centram vehicles in testing:

White (9001), arriving at Kenchō-mae.

Source: mallowchan7090 on YouTube

Silver (9002), at Nishichō.

Source: mallowchan7090 on YouTube

Black (9003), between Kokusai Kaigijō-mae and Ōte Mall.

Source: mallowchan7090 on YouTube

9003 at Marunouchi.

Source: mallowchan7090 on YouTube

Last edited by quashlo; February 6th, 2010 at 04:35 AM.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:25 AM   #624
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Toyama Light Rail to offer special train-driving program for visitors
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/tabi/featur...OYT8T00331.htm

Quote:
In response to declining weekend ridership, the Toyama Light Rail (Toyama-eki Kita – Iwasehama) will launch a campaign from February to October of next year that allows participants to experience operating a train. The event will be held primarily on Sundays during the campaign period.

After similar events held during summer vacation and holidays starting last year proved popular among railfans outside of Toyama Prefecture, the Light Rail will team up with hotels and other businesses in an effort to lure tourists. With the pending opening of the loop line Centram on December 23, officials hope to bring back visitors to the city.

The public will be allowed to operate the trains as part of a special program with reservations at the Toyama Excel Hotel Tōkyū. After riding from Toyama-eki Kita to Jōgawara, participants will be allowed to operate a back-and-forth trip on 150 m of track inside the Light Rail carbarn, at speeds of 10 to 20 kph. According to Toyama Light Rail officials, since the company has filed a report with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and will have operators on hand, even children can operate the train.

October ridership on the Light Rail is only 80 percent of what it was half a year after it opened in October 2006. Weekday ridership is 94.8 percent of what it was, indicating that the line has established itself as a mode of choice among commuters to work and school, but weekend ridership is only 64.6 percent of what it was in October 2006.

While the opening of the Centram holds promise to generate ridership synergies by offering the opportunity to sell “one-day passes,” there is concern that visitors may congregate onto the Centram only. Toyama Light Rail officials said, “We want to increase visitors whose main goal is to just ride. If the Light Rail becomes a visitors’ landmark, the region will only benefit.” The company will begin accepting applications for the event starting in January at the Toyama Excel Hotel Tōkyū.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:26 AM   #625
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JE East’s MUE-Train tests new technologies
http://mytown.asahi.com/saitama/news...00380911210001

Quote:
Kawagoe Car Center, located between Sashiōgi and Minami-Furuya on the JR Kawagoe Line. Starting in autumn of last year, the center has been home to one unusual train: the experimental MUE-Train, which conducts tests for non-Shinkansen lines. With a conspicuous livery featuring a block pattern on a white beltline, it’s sure to have caught the eyes of at least a few passengers inside regular trains.

The MUE-Train consists of specially redesigned 209 series cars formerly used on the Keihin-Tōhoku Line and began its tests in November 2008. The JR East Research and Development Center in Kita Ward, Saitama City is the lead group in conducting R&D work using the train. To meet the needs of the R&D team, the train can run on many of JR’s lines in the Greater Tōkyō area, outfitted with multiple safety equipment technologies such as automatic train control (ATC).

“We load the experimental train with the latest equipment and devices, such as our next-generation train control system, and test the new technologies inside while the train is running. In order to ensure that customers can feel safe about our trains, we perform experiments on running trains and incorporate those results into new technology,” says Chief Yamaoka Ikuo (44yo) of the Research and Development Center’s Advanced Railway Systems Development Center.

The Smart Denchi train that uses an experimental battery system to provide power consists of only a single specially-redesigned car, but the MUE-Train consists of seven cars, with each car outfitted in a different way to efficiently accommodate a multitude of R&D needs.

The results of the MUE-Train’s experiments have already been incorporated to the new limited express Narita Express trains that debuted in October. JR East stepped ahead of the pack and became the first to introduce wireless LAN service through broadband data communications system WiMAX, allowing passengers to view and send mail and browse the Internet on a stable connection, even when the train is traveling at high speed. The shape and location of antennas on the Narita Express are designed according to the results of data transfer experiments using the MUE-Train in March.

In order to satisfy the time-responsiveness necessary for news feeds, the Narita Express will also begin using WiMAX to transfer data to the information displays inside the train starting in February. JR East is also considering implementation of the system on the new fleet of Keiyō Line trains set to debut in the summer of next year.

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

According to Matsunaga Makoto (31yo) of the Research and Development Center’s Frontier Service Laboratory, “We are currently testing a system to provide train status and transfer information to PDAs. MUE-Train’s experiments will likely have a profound impact on the functionality and convenience of commuter trains.
The MUE-Train (Multipurpose Experimental Train) is performing several experiments including the following:
  • Development of improvements to rolling stock functionality
    • Air suspension-based train tilt system
    • Improved braking power during rain
    • Improved bogie design
    • WiMAX (high-speed data transmission)
    • Windspeed measurements by moving trains
  • Development of next-generation car control system: Tests of motor and brake control equipment, as well as computer command and inspection devices
  • Development of inspection devices for trackside equipment using trains in operation: Inspection of the status of rails, overhead wire, safety systems (ATS), and other equipment via small devices loaded on trains
MUE-Train departing Utsunomiya

Source: kawashin1014 on YouTube

I posted about the NE Train (Smart Denchi Train) here:
http://mytown.asahi.com/saitama/news...00380911140001

There’s more pictures of the NE Train here:
http://rail.hobidas.com/blog/natori/...post_1141.html
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:27 AM   #626
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Sōtetsu-JR line to start construction soon
http://mytown.asahi.com/kanagawa/new...00000912050005

Quote:
The plan to have direct-service trains from the Sōtetsu Lines to Shinjuku and Shibuya via a JR cargo line is becoming reality. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has approved construction of new track that would link Sōtetsu and JR, and construction is scheduled to start in earnest before the end of the fiscal year, with a scheduled start date of April 2015. Trains from Ebina (Ebina City) and Shōnandai (Fujisawa City) would travel onto the JR tracks via Nishiya Station (Hodogaya Ward, Yokohama City) and the new track connection.

According to Sōtetsu, the new track connection would extend approximately 2.7 km from Nishiya Station to the nearby JR Tōkaidō Cargo Line. A new Hazawa Station (Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama City) would be constructed near Yokohama Hazawa Station on the Tōkaidō Cargo Line. Through-service trains would use the new track connection and the Yokosuka Line / Shōnan-Shinjuku Line route to enter onto the JR network. Currently, the Odakyū Line already offers one-seat rides from Ebina and Shōnandai to Shinjuku, but passengers still must transfer to reach Shibuya Station or Sōtetsu Line stations as far as Nishiya. The new line promises to improve convenience for these destinations.

Four trains every hour will run during the morning rush, with two to three trains every hour during other times of the day. With the through-service, the trip from Futamatagawa to Shinjuku will be reduced from the current 59 minutes to 44 minutes, and the trip from Shōnandai to Shibuya will be reduced from the current 60 minutes to 51 minutes.

In addition, Sōtetsu is planning to extend the track connection to Hiyoshi Station (Kōhoku Ward, Yokohama City) on the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line and Meguro Line, running a maximum of 14 additional through-service trains onto the Tōkyū Lines, separate from the JR through-service.

Daily entries and exits at Sōtetsu Yokohama Station are approximately 440,000. Approximately 270,000 are transferring passengers to and from central Tōkyō and beyond, of which approximately 190,000 are believed to be JR passengers and approximately 50,000 are believed to be Tōkyū passengers. As a result, Sōtetsu believes there is a “large tangible benefit” to the new through-service.

Two stations before Nishiya is the junction between the Sōtetsu Main Line and Izumino Line, Futamatagawa Station (Asahi Ward, Yokohama City), which will likely reap great benefits from the new line. With the nearby Kanagawa Prefectural driving license testing facility, the station sees approximately 81,000 daily entries and exits, the highest in the Sōtetsu network for stations without transfers to other lines.

In coordination with the new through-service, Sōtetsu is working with Yokohama City officials on a redevelopment project for the South Exit of Futamatagawa Station. In addition to constructing a 29-story condominium tower, an 18-story office building, and a retail facility, the plan would construct approximately a 1.6 km long, 18 m wide Master Plan road, reducing the flow of buses and cars onto neighborhood streets in the vicinity of the station.

With the expected drop in direct service to Yokohama Station as a result of the new track connection, Sōtetsu is considering adding new trains to the schedule, shuttling back and forth between Yokohama and Nishiya, the junction between the Main Line and the new line. The railway is also looking at running a new limited express service between Ebina and Yokohama.

In an effort to minimize the drop in ridership at Yokohama Station as a result of the new line, Sōtetsu Group will begin large-scale renovation of The Diamond and the first basement level of Sōtetsu Joinus, both underground shopping malls the Group owns and operates at the station. The renovation will stretch across 16,500 sq m and be completed by FY2014. The large-scale renovation will mark The Diamond’s first since opening in 1964.
Cab view of a 10000 series Main Line express, from Ebina to Yokohama, on a rainy morning:
Source: 0oRAILROADo0 on YouTube

Part 1 (Ebina – Sagami Ōtsuka, 5.3 km)


Part 2 (Sagami Ōtsuka – Mitsukyō, 5.7 km)


Part 3 (Mitsukyō – Futamatagawa, 3.1 km)


Part 4 (Futamatagawa – Tennōchō, 8.1 km)


Part 5 (Tennōchō – Yokohama, 2.4 km)
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:42 AM   #627
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The full scoop on ekinaka
http://www.nikkeibp.co.jp/article/co...26/197596/?P=1

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With the prolonged drought in consumer spending, department stores and other players in the distribution industry are struggling, but perhaps the single bright story to tell is about ekinaka, in-station retail. Tōkyō Metro, which opened Echika Ikebukuro in March of this year, is set to open Esola Ikebukuro on November 27. In addition, 7-11 has signed an agreement with Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū) to launch 7-11 convenience stores inside Keikyū stations, opening stores at Shinagawa Station and Yokohama Station on November 13. But will ekinaka and its new business market really succeed?

From underground to aboveground—After Echika Ikebukuro comes Esola Ikebukuro
After it opened Echika Omotesandō inside Omotesandō Station in December 2005, Tōkyō Metro has since been accelerating implementation of innovative development projects for food and retail businesses, primarily inside its stations. In February 2009, the railway opened Echikafit Ueno, followed by Echika Ikebukuro a month later in March. And now, the company will open Esola Ikebukuro in November.

Just as the name suggests, Echika stores are located inside subway (chikatetsu) stations and surrounding underground space, but the new Esola is located in a one-story underground, nine-story aboveground building, and features aboveground retail space open to the sky (sola). Echika Ikebukuro’s new zone, Espace Art, will also open in tandem with Esola Ikebukuro. With the opening of this new zone, the existing underground Echika will be connected to the aboveground Esola, spurring development around the Fukutoshin Line’s Ikebukuro Station located a slight distance away from JR Ikebukuro Station.

What entices the railway companies to continue such developments when consumer spending is still down? One definite reason is the bullish trends in sales. Echika Omotesandō, which opened towards the end of 2005, pulled off FY07 sales of approximately ¥3.2 billion, a 3.2 percent increase over the previous year—and this a couple of years after the facility had opened, when the buzz surrounding the stores had somewhat died down. Tōkyō Metro says its goal for Echika Ikebukuro’s first year is approximately ¥2.4 billion in sales.

And thus, railway companies are expanding their non-transport business, using empty station space as a base. But when it comes to large-scale shopping area developments, JR East Group is said to be the first. After opening atré in 2002, the group has expanded its development projects at Ueno Station. The ecute outlets at Ōmiya Station and Shinagawa Station, which both made debuts in 2005, have become premier examples of in-station retail. JR East is continuing its active pursuit of new markets, new stores, and a new business model at each of its stations, including the 2007 debut of ecute Tachikawa, Dila Mitaka, and GranSta at Tōkyō Station.

But just how are JR East’s ekinaka performing? According to data released by the railway, the group’s total revenues across all group companies for FY08 was ¥2.6969 trillion, a slight 0.2 percent drop compared to the previous year. But this was a direct result of a drop in revenues in its primary business, railway transport. Looking at performance by business sector, active reuse of station space generated ¥415.0 billion, while shopping and office developments generated ¥222.6 billion for the group, both surpassing the revenue from the previous year and continuing an upward trend that began in 2000.

While it’s a push to say that ekinaka developments are showing “explosive” growth, looking only at figures from Tōkyō Metro and JR East, the business has been showing steady growth for railway companies, even despite the recession. But why is the business doing well? The first factor that comes to mind is location…

What exactly is ekinaka?
And yet, something doesn’t quite seem to make sense—the question of what exactly is ekinaka and why we call it such. Nowadays, as evidenced by ecute Shinagawa and GranSta, the term ekinaka is no longer used exclusively for commercial facilities located within the faregates of stations. Some people refer to the atré at Ebisu and the LUMINE at Shinjuku, both located outside of the faregates, as ekinaka. Echika Ikebukuro and others are also located outside of the faregates. The conversion of small-scale retail shops inside stations into so-called “eki-combini” (station convenience stores) with the entry of 7-11 into the market has also been drawing attention. These shops are also called ekinaka. And so, I placed my naïve question before JR East’s Business Expansion Department: “What exactly are ekinaka?”

And their response: “In actuality, we didn’t come up with the term ‘ekinaka.’ In reality, JR East Group has been expending its efforts in ‘station renaissance’ projects, which consider a new style of station and all its possibilities, and then take that vision to fruition. As we completely reevaluate the station building from the viewpoint of our passengers in order to improve the safety and convenience of the station, we have been expanding our retail presence inside stations, represented most visibly by our ecute brand. This has been what has drawn the attention. And before we knew it, society began referring to other businesses, as well as those located outside of the paid areas of stations, under the umbrella term of ‘ekinaka.’”

If even the project managers directly responsible for the developments have trouble defining exactly what ekinaka are, then there must not be a very clear and universal definition. It’s possible that television, newspapers, and other mass media devised the term ekinaka, or it may be something created from the ground up among the average consumers. And as a result, there is no correct answer to what part of the station officially qualifies as ekinaka.

In any event, JR East’s increasing investment in the growth of its non-transport businesses is clearly stated in the company’s midterm business plan, Group Vision 2020: Idomu. Unlike the private railways, JR East had been much more reliant on its transport business, but now says it is aiming to have 40 percent of total revenues come from non-transport business (in 2008, this figure was 32.1 percent). In order to achieve that goal, the railway is turning its eyes on the “station,” and the possibilities that it brings.

According to JR East, “’Station renaissance’ projects began with the idea of eliminating all the fixed concepts and constructs about what a station is, and thinking about what we would want from a station if we were a passenger. We attempted not just to create retail space or improve access for disabled passengers, we wanted to recreate everything from square one, moving towards a station that was safe and easy to use for everyone.”
  • Creation of revolutionary large-scale commercial developments inside the paid area of stations, meeting the needs of users (ecute and GranSta).
  • Expansion of convenience store business inside stations (NEWDAYS).
  • Development of shopping centers in station space and adjacent land outside the paid area of stations (atré, LUMINE, Dila, etc.).
The above commercial enterprises were a part of the railways’ station renaissance program, and as evidenced by the figures presented earlier, all of these developments are trending up in performance. But other railway companies such as Tōkyō Metro and the private railways have also begun to actively pursue development along the broader sense of ekinaka. Like Tōkyō Station or Shinagawa Station, there are many stations served by lines operated by multiple companies. As a result, there are many users, and the prospects for commercial development at these stations are high. In fact, it’s possible that the ekinaka market may develop into a battle to see who can gain the largest slice of the pie, just as happened in the department store industry. In addition, not only 7-11 but other existing companies in the distribution industry are entering the ekinaka market. What does JR East feel about these trends?

Their response: “If we cut to the conclusion, by designing stations as easy-to-use, safe public spaces, the areas surrounding the station will also benefit. We believe that is the most critical thing. With this in mind, we have been expanding not only our retail business, but also our daycare and child support facilities, and our efforts to revitalize neighborhoods. Of course, we have special interest in Tōkyō Metro’s expanding retail developments inside its underground spaces, and we are also keen on how distribution industry professionals such as 7-11 plan on developing their businesses in the ekinaka market. While JR East continues to advance its ‘station renaissance’ program, we have a deep interest in how each of the various companies is approaching this market in their own ways.”

Inside stations, adjacent to stations, and near stations: Three different markets
Let’s return to my basic question from before. Personally, I believe that ekinaka should be used to refer only to retail inside the paid area of stations. At the very least, only developments located adjacent to and in close proximity to the faregates should be called ekinaka. We can say that the ekinaka market “is doing well,” but shopping centers outside stations and terminal department stores are located not very far from the station’s faregates. But these existing large-scale retailers are struggling.

The success of ekinaka is probably a result of the business development investments by JR East and Tōkyō Metro. But, those facilities have unique qualities due to their location, and their success was due to knowing the ins and outs of those qualities. In the past, large-scale commercial facilities weren’t included when discussing “space owned by the railway company either inside the faregates or in adjacent space.” I believe that as a result of that prime location, consumers welcomed the developments and tenant firms leased space, leading to a successful venture.

With these thoughts in my head, I paid a visit this time to the Station Consumer Research Center established by JR East Planning, a member company of the JR East Group. And while it’s part of the railway group, the center is more of a specialized data research agency, whose main goal is to “research consumer trends at stations and surrounding areas.”

When I asked officials at the Cnter about my questions, Research Head Katō Hajime promptly responded, “Yes, there are market differences depending on location.” The Center divided locations into three categories—inside the station (inside the faregates), inside the station building or station facilities (adjacent to stations or outside the faregates), and near the station (within five-minutes walking distance from the station)—and gathered data from surveys of users and businesses. As a result, the Center realized there was one distinct difference between the three categories.

“The biggest difference we noticed was whether the customer’s trip to the retail shop was planned or unplanned. The number of survey respondents who said they had no initial plans to visit the shop but decided to drop by on the way while using the trains and eventually bought something—in other words, the percentage of customers who made unplanned trips—was 48.9 percent for ekinaka businesses. This number is only 33.3 percent for businesses located inside the station building or station facilities, and as low as 22.8 percent for businesses located near the station. As you pointed out, consumer spending at retail businesses located nearby the station is slowing, but that may only be an indication of a drop in ‘planned visits’ to the retail businesses.”

According to Katō, there are also visible difference in average prices as well: “Ekinaka businesses tend to have lower average prices than businesses located near stations.”

“Planned shopping trips to purchase items at higher average prices will definitely be more susceptible to the general economic conditions. On the other hand, it’s likely that most customers who make unplanned visits and end up buying something do so because of the low prices.”

But, the situation isn’t so simple that anything cheap will sell. Looking at popular shops inside GranSta and ecute, it’s clear that the shops aren’t simply banking on the appeal of “inexpensive.” There are many shops that have become well-known among shoppers and garnered particular attention from the public. The Station Consumer Research Center calls these consumers who shop at stations and the surrounding areas “ekisumers.” The Center is gradually publishing the results of its varied research studies into the unique consumerism of ekinaka, station buildings, and station facilities inside its PR magazine, EKISUMER.

“We aren’t just talking about JR and its station renaissance program, but also the subways and private railways. The concept of ‘station’ everywhere is changing dramatically—from a transport origin you pass through to get from one place to another, to a comfortable lifestyle center where people gather. In the midst of all this, we believe that the ekinaka consumer market is growing again. For Japan, which is different from a car-reliant society like the West, the railway station is already at the center of the town. By revitalizing the station itself, we believe that before long those benefits will expand to the station building and the surrounding area.”

In other words, the prosperity of the ekinaka market doesn’t spell competition for retail outside of the station, but instead can be a boon for the revitalization of the distribution industry and neighborhood as a whole.”

In fact, this may be the best way to look at the trends of a growing market.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:43 AM   #628
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Kansai ekinaka doing well
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...2248016-n2.htm

Quote:
While railway companies are seeing their performance results drop as a result of lagging consumer spending and the effects of the swine flu scare, renovations of ekinaka tenant retail space inside stations are being completed left and right inside major terminals, generating respectable sales for the railways. With convenient access by train and long business hours as weapons, the railways are hoping to jumpstart consumption by luring customers to a new “hangout” for commuting workers and students, as well as visitors.

Local brands are the key
In September, Kintetsu Corporation opened ekinaka Time’s Place inside Yamato Saidaiji Station (Nara City) by expanding the elevated concourse level by approximately 1,800 sq m, doubling the previous space. The space was transformed into an all-new shopping mall with 26 tenants, including several that were new to station retail.

In preparation for the 1300th anniversary of Nara Heijō-kyō capital, Kintetsu invited tenants that specialize in local Nara brands. In particular, among the tenants at Time’s Place are a standing bar-style sake brewery that offers local sake and a confectionary that sells sweets made using Yamato tea, drawing the attention of visitors to the area.

In addition, after Kintetsu offered a trial service that allows regular shoppers who aren’t riding the trains to enter the faregates for free, approximately 200 to 300 visitors daily have taken advantage of the program, comprising approximately 10 percent of the total sales and indicating that the shops are becoming a part of the lifestyle of residents of the area.

Not your average sweets
A special program that allows customers at ekinaka to order famous sweets from around the country and have them delivered is garnering attention. In February 2008, Keihan Electric Railway opened SWEETS BOX in approximately 15 sq m of empty space. Taking advantage of the strengths of the Keihan Group, which counts supermarkets and department stores among its companies, the railway invites famous brands and popular shops from around the country to the space, switching them out every week. In addition to the railway’s Yodoyabashi Station and Kyōbashi Station, Keihan has expanded the program to four other stations including Nankai Namba Station and JR Kyōto Station, creating an ekinaka sweets boom that attracts lines of customers.

Meanwhile, Hankyū Railway is squaring off against its rival by gathering an array of the Kansai area’s most exclusive shops, opening Plum Cube inside Umeda Station in June. Approximately 95 sq m of floor space house four tenants that switch out with each season. December 1 marks the start of the winter program, which features three Western sweets shops and one Japanese confectionary. With Christmas just around the corner, the story about Plum Cube is spreading.

Ekinaka are opening one after another, particularly inside terminal stations. They have established themselves as a new source of revenue for railway operators, with each of the railways looking to separate their ekinaka from the bunch.
I posted an earlier article about Time’s Place Saidaiji here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=341

Official website for Keihan’s SWEETS BOX: http://www.sweetsbox.jp/
There are four outlets inside Keihan stations (Yodoyabashi, Tenmabashi, Kyōbashi, and Moriguchi) and two outlets in non-Keihan stations: Nankai Namba, and JR Kyōto (technically, a rival in the Kyōto – Ōsaka corridor).
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:44 AM   #629
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Tōkyō Metro opens Esola Ikebukuro

This is Tōkyō Metro’s first aboveground retail development and banks on the success the railway has had with its Echika retail developments inside stations.

New CM featuring actress Miyazako Aoi

Source: masao1122n on YouTube

Tōkyō MX news report a day before the opening

Source: tokyomx on YouTube

Tour around Esola Ikebukuro featuring actress and fashion model Aoi

Source: masao1122n on YouTube

Opening day:
Source: dariko on Flickr

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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:45 AM   #630
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ICOCA and SUGOCA to launch interoperability in Spring 2011
http://www.westjr.co.jp/news/newslis...74590_799.html

Quote:
West Japan Railway Company (JR West) and Kyūshū Railway Company (JR Kyūshū) have agreed to begin interoperability of JR West’s ICOCA and JR Kyūshū’s SUGOCA (including IC farecard and electronic money functions) by Spring 2011.

Details:
  • Passengers with either an ICOCA or SUGOCA card will be able to use the card on non-Shinkansen lines in areas where ICOCA and SUGOCA are accepted.
  • At transfer gates at Hakata Station and Kokura Station, passengers will be able to their EX-IC Shinkansen card or Shinkansen paper ticket in combination with an IC farecard such as SUGOCA or ICOCA to enter and exit the automatic faregates, greatly improving transfers between non-Shinkansen and Shinkansen trains.
  • In regards to electronic money functions, passengers with either an ICOCA or SUGOCA card will be able to use the card in all shops where ICOCA and SUGOCA are accepted as payment.
*EX-IC cards are IC cards used for ticketless service on the Tōkaidō-San’yō Shinkansen, and are provided to members of Express Reservation, an annual-fee, membership-based online reservation service developed by JR Central and JR West.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:46 AM   #631
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Elevation of inbound Chūō Line track between Mitaka and Kokubunji almost complete
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/tabi/featur...OYT8T00857.htm

Quote:
Construction work for the elevation of the inbound (towards Tōkyō) track of the JR Chūō Line between Mitaka and Kokubunji Stations (6.2 km) will be completed on December 6. The milestone promises to eliminate grade crossings that rarely open, reducing traffic congestion in areas surrounding the line and also offering opportunities to put the land underneath the tracks to good use.

Before the new elevated structure enters service, JR East’s Hachiōji Branch Office must switch from the temporary inbound track to the new elevated track, a feat which the railway says will begin the night of December 5 and continue into the morning of December 6. Expecting a large number of cancelled services between Mitaka and Tachikawa Stations, the railway is asking passengers for their cooperation and consideration.

The elevation of the Chūō Line between Mitaka and Tachikawa Stations is a joint project between the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government and JR East, starting work in 1995. For the outbound track, the section between Mitaka and Kokubunji Stations was completed in late June 2007, while the section between Kokubunji and Tachikawa Stations was completed on January 10, 2009.

In the next major milestone, the inbound track between Mitaka and Kokubunji Stations will be finished, eliminating a total of 13 grade crossings (six in Musashino City and seven in Koganei City). Among these, seven were designated as “crossings that rarely open,” staying closed for over 40 minutes of the hour during some time periods.

The Hachiōji Branch Office says elevation of the inbound track between Kokubunji and Tachikawa Stations is scheduled for completion in March 2011.

As part of the switch to the new inbound tracks, from 9:00 pm on December 5 to 6:30 am on December 6 between Mitaka and Tachikawa, a total of 91 trains in both directions will be completely cancelled, and seven limited expresses will be discontinued on a portion of their route between Mitaka and Tachikawa Station. The railway expects approximately 72,800 passengers to be affected by the work.

In particular, the section of the line between Mitaka and Kokubunji will be completely closed from 11:50 pm on December 5 to 6:30 am on December 6, with the railway offering alternative bus service and shifting passengers to other lines. Passengers should pay attention, as frequencies will be reduced to a train every 30 minutes on other portions of the line and the last train will be scheduled to leave earlier than normal.
Pictures of all the construction for the Chūō Line elevation project:
http://www.railstation.net/chuo/
http://11.pro.tok2.com/~kouka-kouji/kouka/kouka.htm

The old inbound track, before the big night. You can see the section that was taken out.

Source: tkhr6767 on YouTube

Some YouTube videos of the overnight construction work:
Source: SuperTshaver on YouTube

Laying and tamping the ballast for the new track


Removing the ties from the old track


An inbound train passes the construction site on the outbound track.


Aligning the track by brute force, as an outbound train passes.


I’ll post images and videos of the new platforms and track in the next round of updates.

Last edited by quashlo; December 7th, 2009 at 09:30 PM.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:47 AM   #632
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Locals in western Tōkyō welcome elevation of Chūō Line
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/tok...OYT8T00109.htm

Quote:
“It’s like making it out of a long tunnel through the mountains.” With the completion of the elevation of the inbound (towards Tōkyō) track of the JR Chūō Line between Mitaka and Kokubunji (6.2 km) on December 6, ground-level public passages will open at three stations—Musashi Sakai, Higashi-Koganei, and Musashi Koganei—connecting the north and south exits. On December 5 at the Skip-dōri Commercial Street at the North Exit of Musashi Sakai Station, shop owners and residents welcomed the change, with a special mochi-pounding competition to celebrate the elevation of the track and the opening of the new passage.

“Moving between the north and south sides of the station is now one-tenth of the hassle it used to be,” said Musashi Sakai Chamber of Commerce Chairman Shimoda Teruo (72yo), who participated in the mochi-pounding competition, smiling.

In the past, to move between the north and south sides of the station, people were required to either climb up and down from the third floor of the station building or detour 100 m away from the station and use a grade crossing that rarely opened. On December 6 starting at midday, however, people will be able to use a new 3 to 4 m wide public passage on the east side of the station.

According to Chairman Shimoda, who runs a tea shop along the commercial street, partially as a result of the problematic grade crossing and the renovation work on the station building, the number of customers who come from the south side of the station to visit the commercial street dropped to below 10 percent of all customers. The manager of the Musashi Sakai branch of Seibu Shinkin Bank, which planning a special campaign on December 7 to celebrate the opening of the new passage, said, “Our customer base ratio between north and south was 8:2.”

“Now, there is no ‘north’ or ‘south,’ we’re all one town,” confided Takahashi Rokuzō (71yo), Director of the commercial street association and the owner of a cosmetics shop.

The public passages at Higashi-Koganei and Musashi Koganei Stations are also scheduled to open at midday on December 6. At Higashi-Koganei Station, people have been forced to use a temporary underground passage constructed beneath the tracks, while at Musashi Koganei Station, people were forced to use either the grade crossing at Koganei Kaidō or a route through the platforms and station building (requiring proof of passage). Now, new passages (3 to 4 m wide) will open beneath the new elevated platforms, allowing for 24-hour access.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:48 AM   #633
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More E259 series Narita Express videos

Clips on the Sōbu Main Line

Source: hellokt21 on YouTube

The LCD panels and four-language announcements inside the train. The right display primarily features airport terminal and flight status information on trips to Narita Airport, and newsfeeds on trips on back from the Airport. It looks like the left display has frozen in this video.

Source: buyumax on YouTube
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:48 AM   #634
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New Skyliner begins testing on Hokusō Line

At Keisei Takasago Station, the junction with the Hokusō Line

Source: kumakyu on YouTube

At Komuro Station on the Hokusō Line

Source: Umigiko on YouTube
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:49 AM   #635
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Keiō to start soon on barrier-free access at seven stations
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/guntosi/58754930.html

Quote:
In the second half of the fiscal year, Keiō Electric Railway will break ground on the partial elevation of Tsutsujigaoka Station and six other stations in central Tōkyō. None of the projects has a determined start date, and Keiō says it has not decided on the scale of the new stations after elevation, nor the contractor to execute the work. The railway is aiming for barrier-free access at all of its stations, including the seven scheduled to break ground soon, by the end of fiscal year 2010, and is currently performing construction work already at several stations.

The seven stations scheduled to break ground in the second half of the fiscal year include six stations on the Keiō Line (Tsutsujigaoka and Nishi-Chōfu in Chōfu City; Musashinodai, Tama Reien, and Higashi-Fuchū in Fuchū City; and, Minamidaira in Hino City) and one station on the Inokashira Line (Fujimigaoka in Suginami Ward, Tōkyō). The railway is aiming to complete the barrier-free construction work by the end of FY2010, but the construction work on the new station buildings at some locations will continue into FY2011.

In addition to the partial elevation work at the seven stations, the railway also plans on other barrier-free related work such as elevator installation at three other stations, including Chitose – Karasuyama.

The railway says it will continue ongoing partial elevation work at three stations (Roka Kōen, Mogusaen, and Eifukuchō) as part of its efforts to provide a safe and comfortable experience for passengers.
“Partial elevation” means constructing a station building that bridges over the tracks. The tracks are at grade, so the partial elevation makes it possible to get to either track from either side of the station without having to cross the tracks. In most cases, these types of projects are combined with public passages, allowing not just passengers but other pedestrians to use the station to cross the tracks, helping to offset some of the impacts of frequent at-grade rail service on neighborhood connectivity and access.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:50 AM   #636
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207 series retires from service

The last revenue trip, a charter, departs Matsudo.

Source: hokutoseief81 on YouTube

Passing Abiko Station.

Source: safaia2008 on YouTube

Railfans bid farewell at Matsudo Station, as the train heads back to the Matsudo Car Center after its last revenue trip.

Source: keio6000 on YouTube
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:51 AM   #637
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JR East considers new development at ten stations in Tōkyō area
Kensetsu Tsūshin News

Quote:
East Japan Railway Company (JR East) is considering development at 10 of its stations in the Capital Region, including stations in Tōkyō and Kanagawa Prefectures. Up until now, the railway has broke ground on large-scale developments at terminals such as Shinjuku Station, Shibuya Station, and Yokohama Station, but the railway has decided on target stations for the next scale of development down from the large terminal projects. The current details of the development plan have yet to be hammered out, but the railway says it will begin considering possible options as a way to boost station potential.

A total of ten stations in Tōkyō, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba Prefectures were selected, including Iidabashi Station, Ōimachi Station, Ōtsuka Station, Higashi-Nakano Station, Tsurumi Station, Sakuragichō Station, Tsujidō Station, Chigasaki Station, Musashi Urawa Station, and Funabashi Station.

In addition, there is a possibility that additional stations may be added to the list in the future.

In its Group Vision 2020: Idomu plan published in 2008, the railway discusses various projects, including construction of the Shinjuku Station South Exit Building, as well as redevelopment at Yokohama Station’s West and East Exits, Kawasaki Station, and Chiba Station.

In addition, the plan also mentioned development at other stations, including ecute Kashiwa, ecute Nippori, a department store in Akihabara, the Saitama Shintoshin Hotel (temporary name), and the Chūō Line Mall (temporary name).

The plan also called for active development of lifestyle service businesses, with a goal to increase the railway’s non-transport revenues to 40 percent of overall revenues by 2017. In addition to already-announced large-scale development projects and the JR Minami-Shinjuku Building (temporary name) currently under construction, JR East revealed the ten stations where it will begin examining development potential.
These projects are all mentioned in JR East’s latest Fact Sheet from July 2009:
http://www.jreast.co.jp/investor/fac.../factsheet.pdf (1.87 MB)

These are all secondary stations, but all see fairly high ridership and most are served by several lines.

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

Iidabashi Station (Chiyoda Ward / Shinjuku Ward / Bunkyō Ward, Tōkyō)
JR (90,000 daily entries): Chūō-Sōbu Line (local)
Tōkyō Metro (167,000 daily entries and exits): Tōzai Line, Tōkyō Metro Yūrakuchō Line, Tōkyō Metro Namboku Line
Toei Subway (27,000 daily entries and exits): Ōedo Line

JR Iidabashi Station
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Source: oda.shinsuke on Flickr

Toei Iidabashi Station
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Source: mizumoto.tukasa on Flickr

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Source: mizumoto.tukasa on Flickr

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Source: mizumoto.tukasa on Flickr

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Source: mugichocotai on Flickr

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Ōimachi Station (Shinagawa Ward, Tōkyō)
JR (94,000 daily entries): Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Tōkyū (121,000 daily entries and exits): Ōimachi Line
Tōkyō Waterfront Area Rapid Transit (61,000 daily entries and exits): Rinkai Line

image hosted on flickr

Source: june29 on Flickr

JR Ōimachi Station
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Source: Lyphard on Flickr

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Source: darashi on Flickr

TWR Ōimachi Station
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Source: ykanazawa1999 on Flickr

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

Ōtsuka Station (Toshima Ward, Tōkyō)
JR (54,000 daily entries): Yamanote Line
Toei Streetcar (Toden): Arakawa Line

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Source: nagashima on Flickr

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Source: oda.shinsuke on Flickr

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Source: cozyblue on Flickr

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

Tsurumi Station (Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama City)
JR (78,000 daily entries): Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Tsurumi Line

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Source: marahami on Flickr

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Source: nodoca on Flickr

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Source: wonderstory on Flickr

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Sakuragichō Station (Naka Ward, Yokohama City)
JR (60,000 daily entries): Negishi Line
Yokohama Municipal Subway (14,000 daily entries): Blue Line

JR Sakuragichō Station
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Source: chris.jan on Flickr

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Source: jmettraux on Flickr

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Source: love_you<3 on Flickr

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Source: nakajimalassie on Flickr

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Chigasaki Station (Chigasaki City)
JR (56,000 daily entries): Tōkaidō Line, Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Sagami Line

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Source: 背後霊 on Flickr

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Source: mah0103 on Flickr

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Source: kiri-fuda on Flickr

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Musashi Urawa (Minami Ward, Saitama City)
JR (44,000 daily entries): Musashino Line, Saikyō Line

image hosted on flickr

Source: oda.shinsuke on Flickr

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Source: oda.shinsuke on Flickr

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Source: oda.shinsuke on Flickr

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

Funabashi Station (Funabashi City)
JR (137,000 daily entries): Sōbu Line (rapid), Chūō-Sōbu Line (local)
Tōbu (108,000 daily entries and exits): Noda Line
Keisei (91,400 daily entries and exits): Main Line

image hosted on flickr

Source: nobuojp on Flickr

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Source: nobuojp on Flickr

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Source: oda.shinsuke on Flickr

Keisei Funabashi Station (after elevation)
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Source: thomas.ritz on Flickr

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Source: thomas.ritz on Flickr

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Source: oda.shinsuke on Flickr
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Old December 7th, 2009, 06:52 AM   #638
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Tōkyō: Part 16

I decided to spend some time visiting the Keikyū lines, and my first stop was Yokosuka City, 50 km to the southwest. Since I was already at Shibuya, I opted to take a Tōkyū train to Yokohama and transfer there. Here, a Yokohama Rapid Railway Y500 series train used on the Minato Mirai Line waits at Platform 3 of Tōkyū Shibuya Station as a stream of passengers moves down the platform. The train is signed as a “limited express,” a designation that for other operators is usually reserved for premium-fare services, often with special rolling stock that offers more comforts than the typical subway or commuter train. Tōkyū’s network, however, does not extend very far out, so trips are comparatively short (the trip from Shibuya to Yokohama is a mere 25 km), making premium-fare services somewhat obsolete. As a result, these limited expresses use the exact same rolling stock as the typical services.

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The trains were crowded and I wasn’t able to get many good shots along the way. This is after transferring to the Keikyū line, at Yokosuka Chūō Station.

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At Horinouchi, we transfer to a train that takes us to the official terminus of the Keikyū Main Line, Uraga Station.
Looking down from the station entrance…

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We make our way down to street level. The station is actually nested atop one of the many hills in this area. Here, we get a better view of the area directly outside the station. Immediately below us is the bus plaza.

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Here, three Keikyū buses crowd the small bus plaza outside the station. The typical style is pay-as-you-exit, and you enter via the center door. Given the complexity of some bus systems and the high railway station densities (meaning buses often serve as “shuttles” to get passengers to and from trains), bus routes are often numbered as a character and then a number, where the “character” is the first character of the major station or area served on the line. Uraga Station is served by Ura-02, Ura-03, and Ura-05 bus routes, as well as several other lines.

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The area around the station exudes a small-town feel.

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A branch of supermarket chain Keikyū Store, which is owned by the railway group, sits adjacent to the station.

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We make our way back inside the station, which is a simple island platform with two tracks tucked against a hill. While Uraga is the official terminus for the Main Line, many of the trains (and virtually all of the limited-stop trains) actually run through service to and from the Kurihama Line, a branch line. However, this is compensated for by a timed cross-platform transfer at the junction with the Kurihama Line, Horinouchi. The basic service from Uraga is six trains per hour, increasing to eight during peak periods.

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Here, a new stainless 1000 series train, a four-car unit, waits at the platform, signed as a local for Kanagawa Shinmachi on the Main Line. Keikyū operates a mix of anything from four- to 12-car trains.

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Motorcycle parking. According to the sign, its ¥2,100 per month.

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Looks like the platform was recently resurfaced and the detection tiles replaced.

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We take a train back to Horinouchi to take same more pictures. Here, a local for Shinagawa waits at the platform.

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A local train from the Main Line enters Platform 1, bound for Uraga. This is the northwest end of the platform.

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Diamond-shaped pantographs are still commonly seen on the older stock, but newer stock features single-arm pantographs.

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Moving towards the southeast end…

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Some construction of homes was proceeding on a nearby hill.

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The split between the Main Line (left) and Kurihama Line (right). The Main Line only continues for three more stations (about 3 km), but the Kurihama Line continues for a good 13 km to Misakiguchi Station in Miura City. In the past, Keikyū had approval from the national government to extend the line further down the peninsula closer to the heart of Miura City, and there is a small aquarium owned by the railway group in Aburatsubo. However, the railway abandoned the rights in 2005 after running into trouble with land acquisition and environmental concerns over endangered species habitat, but it’s possible the extension could resurface in the future.

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Notice the plank that allows railway employees to access the platforms from track level.

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The building to the right with the stairwell is for staff-only. There is a walkway that connects the building with the plank above.

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To be continued…
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:39 AM   #639
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Hello everyone, I'm ShibuyaBoy. I'm new to this whole forum thing. So please be patient while I get used to this. I have some pictures to post, but I might be included in them, as I took mine not thinking of posting them on a forum. I love trains... Some train fans focus on memorizing all the station names, but I focus more on train lines. And I will have many questions, especially for Quashlo as he seems to be quite knowledgable on transportation projects. I'm not Japanese, but like many of them I'm not too good when it comes to computers, etc. So please endure any suffering caused by my many technical errors...

では、これからお願いします!:
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Old December 14th, 2009, 07:11 AM   #640
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Seaside Line requires ¥10.4 billion in upgrades
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/kan...OYT8T01357.htm

Quote:
On December 8, it was announced that replacement of aging rolling stock, signals, and other equipment on the Seaside Line—a “new transit” system operated by Yokohama City third sector railway company Yokohama New Transit—will require investment of approximately ¥10.4 billion. The Yokohama City Road & Highway Bureau made the announcement to the Committee on Neighborhood Planning, Urban Improvements, and Roads. Yokohama New Transit plans on beginning a five-year upgrade program starting next year, but with the company’s accumulated deficit rising to approximately ¥9.7 billion at the end of FY08, and an additional ¥5.7 billion of debt, Committee members became concerned that the company might not be able to pay back its loans.

According to the Road & Highway Bureau, the upgrade program comes as maintenance on the entire fleet of vehicles, which are over 20 years old and have been running since the start of service, has become more difficult as parts have been pulled from production by manufacturers or exceeded manufacturers’ retention periods. In addition, after the derailment incident on the JR Fukuchiyama Line, the company must install “black box” recording equipment by June 2016, but it was determined that buying entirely new vehicles would be more cost-effective than installing the equipment on the aging fleet of trains.

The ¥10.4 billion upgrade program calls for approximately ¥8.5 billion towards new rolling stock (80 cars) and ¥1.9 billion towards upgrades to signaling, communications, and other equipment. The company plans on obtaining ¥5.7 billion of the cost from private financial institutions, with the remaining coming from investment by the company itself.

Before opening, plans for the Seaside Line projected average daily ridership of 70,000. Fares started at a flat rate of ¥220 across the line, with the plan calling for an early increase in fares due to a bullish economy. It was projected that the entire line would pay off its debt in full in FY07.

However, ridership has been struggling to meet projections and has been hovering at 45,000 to 50,000 since 1993. When the bubble burst shortly after the line opened, the company was unable to raise fares substantially, currently charging between ¥230 and ¥300 depending on distance.

However, the ¥12.9 billion in accumulated deficit in 2001 has gradually been decreasing since 2002, when the line began to make an operating profit.

“Replacement of the rolling stock is a critical step to ensure safety comes first,” says the Road & Highway Bureau.
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