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Old December 2nd, 2013, 10:39 AM   #6401
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relief

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Originally Posted by quashlo View Post
East-west connecting passage at Ikebukuro Station resurrected
13年度中に基礎調査/池袋駅東西連絡通路が再始動/豊島区

http://www.kensetsunews.com/?p=22433

Plans for a new east-west connecting passage (東西連絡通路) at Ikebukuro Station (Toshima Ward, Tōkyō)—the so-called “South Deck” (南デッキ)—have been resurrected. The passage would connect the Seibu Department Store (西武百貨店) and Metropolitan Plaza (メトロポリタンプラザ) via a new corridor built in the space above the tracks at the station. In October, Toshima Ward signed an MOU with East Japan Railway Company (JR East) to construct the new passage and carry out improvements to the station’s central underground passage (中央地下通路). The Ward is also working on finalizing an MOU with Seibu Railway on a new north-south passage planned to connect the Seibu Department Store with Seibu’s former HQ building, which is scheduled to be replaced with a new building soon. The improvements would improve congestion inside the station’s existing underground passages, as well as improve overall safety and access.
{edit}
Should be a good improvement for the station. It isn’t as bad as Shinjuku, but I frequently use Ikebukuro as I often stay at the Tōyoko Inns near the West Exit of the station, and it’s easy to get lost in the maze of underground passages.
This is good. I have not previously mentioned this; but last December {I'm not coming there this year - there have been no airfare sales from Chicago to Tokyo all calendar year. }, I got lost trying to find Exit #32 at Ikebukuro station. I was egressing from the Fukutoshin Line, and I may have elevated to street level (or just underneath street level) too quickly. I think I should have walked through the Marunouchi Line Ikebukuro Line station, and then elevated.
Anyhow, Ikebukuro station(s) is definitely confusing. Hopefully, this will help.
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Old December 2nd, 2013, 11:25 AM   #6402
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Keikyū consists

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Originally Posted by quashlo View Post
Keikyū’s fastest services are the kaitoku (快特)—short for kaisoku tokkyū (快速特急) “rapid limited express”, a somewhat unusual designation that no other railway uses. While these used to be operated exclusively with 12-car formations, the 12-car formations now only run during the morning rush hours—midday kaitoku are now just 8-car formations. The kaitoku is easily one of the fastest non-premium private railway services in Tōkyō, made possible by regauging efforts and track realignments decades ago to speed up the line.
{edit}
Well, I guess 1717 hours counts as morning rush hour. Here are photographs I took at Keikyū Kamata station one Monday afternoon last December.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:46 AM   #6403
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Penta-Ocean wins contract for Woodlands North Station on Singapore MRT Thomson Line
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/...or/904064.html

Quote:
SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded the contracts for Woodlands North and Napier stations on the Thomson MRT Line for some S$526 million.

The S$337 million contract for the construction of Woodlands North station and its associated tunnels went to Penta-Ocean Construction Co Ltd.

In a statement issued on Friday morning, LTA noted Penta-Ocean as an established contractor in Japan with several infrastructure and building projects at home and overseas.

In Singapore, it was involved in building Northeast Line's HarbourFront station, East-West Line's Expo station and North-South Line's Yew Tee and Kranji stations.

The company is currently involved in building Downtown Line 3's Bendemeer station.

The S$189 million contract for building Napier station and its associated tunnels went to Sinohydro Corporation Ltd.

LTA said Sinohydro Corporation, a construction and hydropower engineering company, is involved in international infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric dams, power plants, road and rail including the construction of subway lines in Guangzhou and Tianjin.

LTA said work under both contracts is expected to start by the first quarter of 2014.

Woodlands North station is expected to be ready in 2019, and Napier station in 2021.

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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:47 AM   #6404
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Echizen Railway to place order for new LRVs
えち鉄、LRV導入 相互乗り入れへ来月発注

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news...2240002-n1.htm

The liaison committee responsible for revitalizing the Echizen Railway (えちぜん鉄道) in Fukui Prefecture revealed that it plans to place an order this December for new low-floor light rail vehicles (LRVs) needed for the 2015 start of through-services with the Fukui Railway Fukubu Line (福井鉄道福武線).

An order will be placed soon with a railcar manufacturer, with the new trams debuting in revenue service when the Mikuni–Ashiwara Line begins through-service with the Fukubu Line in a year and a half. The new trams would be slightly smaller than the new FUKURAM LRV that debuted on the Fukui Railway earlier this year, but the committee plans to place an order with the same manufacturer. Work will also begin on the necessary improvements at Tawaramachi Station (田原町駅) in order to facilitate through-service between the two railways.

Ridership for the first half of the fiscal year (April to September) was about 1,634,771 passengers—largely even with the 1,633,345 passengers from last year.

===

Looks like another order for Niigata Transys, which seems to have established a pretty good niche for itself.
Not surprising that they would go with something a little smaller than the F1000 series (FUKURAM), though… I believe the F1000 is the largest of the modern LRVs in Japan (outside of Hiroshima), at 27+ m long and 2.6 m wide.

In other news, Echitetsu will also begin work on elevation of their tracks at Fukui Railway in December, with completion in 2018, in time for Fukui’s hosting of the National Sports Festival. However, trains would begin using an 800 m elevated section of the line adjacent to the Hokuriku Shinkansen’s Fukui Station as early as 2015. The ground-level tracks would then be removed and a permanent elevated structure constructed in its place, opening in March 2018. The grade-separation project would eliminate several grade crossings at Hōei (宝永), Hinode (日之出), and other locations, alleviating traffic congestion along east-west streets crossing the railway tracks.
http://news24.jp/nnn/news8634614.html
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:48 AM   #6405
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Lobby group submits petition on Numazu Station elevation project
知事に「早期決断」迫る 沼津高架化 賛成派団体が要望書

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news...2310003-n1.htm

A lobby group comprised of the Numazu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (沼津商工会議所) and other members met with the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture on 2013.11.29 and submitted their petition to have the project begun immediately. Support for the project is fiercely split, and the fate of the plan lies in the hands of the governor. With the end of the public involvement (パブリックインボルブメント) period, the governor said that some understanding had been reached on both sides, but he refrained from making any specific comments.

The petition called for concluding negotiations with JR Central and JR Freight and beginning construction as soon as possible. The governor said he still hopes that both sides can openly discuss the four plans presented in the PI period and eventually settle on a single compromise plan.

===

Another grade-separation project outside the major metro areas, although this one is a bit more controversial, becoming a flashpoint in several mayoral elections in Numazu City. The project involves elevating about 3.7 km of the Tōkaidō Main Line and 1.6 km of the Gotenba Line surrounding Numazu Station, eliminating 13 grade crossings. The project would also involve relocating the adjacent freight terminal and railyard at the station respectively to the Hara (原) district of the city—between Hara and Higashi-Tagonoura (東田子の浦駅) Stations—and the Katahama (片浜) district of the city—between Numazu and Katahama Stations. The new Numazu Station would remain a six-track layout (three island platforms), but feature a north-south public passage, platform bridge, and elevated concourse.

As for other grade-separation projects encountering difficulties, the governor of Okayama Prefecture is looking to JR West to assist in downsizing and value-engineering the elevation of the JR Tracks at Kurashiki Station. A cost-benefit analysis completed by Okayama Prefecture in January showed that the project’s benefits would fall short of the estimated costs, prompting a re-evaluation of the scope of the project. Currently, it involves elevating 3.2 km of the San’yō Line and 2.2 km of the Hakubi Line to eliminate grade crossings and improve north-south connectivity through the station and tracks. The estimated project cost is ¥60.9 billion, of which 7% would be shouldered by JR West and 93% by the national, prefectural, and municipal governments.
http://www.sanyo.oni.co.jp/news_s/ne...3111512434450/
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:49 AM   #6406
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Disparity in support for new Ōu Main Line station in Akita City
泉・外旭川新駅、地元住民の45%「ぜひ必要」

http://www.sakigake.jp/p/akita/polit...p?kc=20131130j

A survey of Akita City residents in July indicated that 45.7% of local residents said a new station on the Ōu Main Line in the Izumi (泉) / Soto-Asahikawa (外旭川) districts of the city was “definitely necessary”, while only 17.4% of residents in other parts of the city responded similarly. The results were published on 2013.11.29, indicating a high neighborhood-level disparity regarding support for the project.

Overall support for the project, including those who said the station was necessary only if the cost-benefit analysis showed that benefits outweighed the costs, stood at 76.4% for residents in the Izumi and Soto-Asahikawa districts, and 62.4% for other city residents. The mayor, who has made a new station a campaign promise, announced the survey results at a City Council session, and said he now hopes to begin negotiations with JR East.

The new station would likely be located near the Sugano Tunnel (菅野), between Izumi Sugano (泉菅野) and Soto-Asahikawa. A ridership analysis indicated that this location would generate higher ridership than a station near the Teiseki crossing (帝石踏切).
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:51 AM   #6407
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TX sells power from regenerative braking back to grid
電車ブレーキで生じる電気、余剰分売電へ…TX

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/atmoney/new...OYT1T00091.htm

In a first among railway operators in Japan, Tsukuba Express (TX) operator Metropolitan Intercity Railway (MIR) announced on 2013.11.29 that it would begin selling electricity generated through train regenerative braking systems back to power provider Tōkyō Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The program would begin on 2013.12.01.

Electricity is used to rotate train motors during acceleration, but during deceleration, the motors can continue to rotate, generating electricity through a process called regenerative braking. This electricity can be used to power other trains as they accelerate or diverted to power systems such as station lighting and escalators or train HVAC equipment. MIR will now take any surplus electricity generated through regenerative braking that is not diverted to power other equipment and sell it back to TEPCO.

The TX already has special transformer equipment to keep the line’s current at a constant voltage and frequency in order to minimize effects on data collected by the Japanese Meterological Agency’s geomagnetic observatory (地磁気観測所) in Ishioka City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Using this transformer equipment, the railway will convert the surplus electricity for secondhand use and and feed it back to the grid.

In light of energy conservation efforts following the Great East Japan Earthquake, the MIR has made better use of electricity a key goal. The plan involves selling back power at 7 of the railway’s 10 substations. The Yashio substation in Yashio City, Saitama Prefecture will be first, followed by the Kashiwa substation (Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture) in April of next year. The railway expects to offer about 2 million kW •h in the first year, enough to power the annual electricity needs of 600 households.

===

Press release:
http://www.mir.co.jp/topics/2013/post_49.html

Like the Jōban Rapid Line, the TX also has to deal with dual-voltage / dual-current systems, and for the same reason (the JMA geomagnetic laboratory in Ishioka). The “dead section” where the switch occurs (can see the lightboards deactivate @ 0:37 and reactivate @ 1:08):

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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:52 AM   #6408
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Ibaraki Prefecture holds conference to lobby for Jōban Line through-services to Tōkyō Station
常磐線東京駅乗り入れ 本数拡大へ促進大会

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ib...902000160.html

With the upcoming extension of the Jōban, Utsunomiya, and Takasaki Lines south from their current terminus at Ueno towards Tōkyō Station, a conference sponsored by Ibaraki Prefecture was held in Mito City on 2013.11.28 to lobby for expanding the number of Jōban Line through-services into Tōkyō Station. This is the third of such conferences, which began last year.

JR East is currently constructing the 3.8 km Tōhoku Through Line (東北縦貫線) between Ueno and Tōkyō Stations to relieve rush-hour overcrowding. The work will be finished in 2014, after which some services on all three lines will be extended towards Tōkyō and Shinagawa, interlining with the Tōkaidō Line.

Unlike Tochigi and Gunma Prefectures, which have ready access to Shinkansen and the Shōnan–Shinjuku Line, Ibaraki Prefecture does not have any direct rail service into Tōkyō Station or beyond towards Yokohama. As a result, local residents and government officials have waited anxiously for the opening of the new connection, which would make it more convenient to reach central Tōkyō and increase tourist numbers in Ibaraki.

However, there is a limit to the total number of train slots on the new connection, which must then be distributed across the three lines currently terminating at Ueno. As a result, not all services will run through to Tōkyō. A final service plan has yet to be developed, but the Prefectural Government hopes to make JR executives aware of poor customer satisfaction along the Jōban Line in the hopes of maximizing the Jōban Line through-services.

Ridership on the Jōban Line, however, is continuing to decrease. Average daily ridership at Tsuchiura Station in FY2012 was 16,000 passengers, 20% lower than the 20,000 passengers recorded 10 years ago (FY2002), indicating a possible shift to the Tsukuba Express, which opened in 2005.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:54 AM   #6409
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In other Jōban Line news, the widening of Platform 3 at Nippori Station, for inbound Jōban (Rapid) Line trains, was completed on 2013.10.20. Obviously, it went by unnoticed by me, since I didn’t see any news about it. Nippori is, in some ways, the effective terminus of the Jōban Line due to being the preferred transfer location to connecting JR and Keisei services (changing trains is more cumbersome at Ueno), but the platform width only maxed out at 6.4 m, which of course becomed significantly narrower near the stairway and escalator wells. The platform width has now been increased by a maximum of 2.4 m, achieved by bowing out the inbound Jōban Line tracks at the station over a length of 400+ m. If you remember, Keisei moved their ground level platform at Nippori Station up two levels to the station’s 3F several years ago in 2009. This resulted in an unusual situation with Keisei platforms at 1F (inbound) and 3F (outbound), but also made the Jōban Line platform widening possible.

There’s some very good diagrams here:
http://mirai-report.com/blog-entry-1263.html







Construction scenes. Was rainy this day, probably not a good day to do the work (although it probably means less passengers inconvenienced).





Scenes at Matsudo, Kita-Senju, Nippori, and related action. From the start of service to about 17:20, all trains on the rapid tracks, including Hitachi limited expresses and special rapids (特別快速)—turned back at Kita-Senju in order to accommodate the construction. Can see the massive electrical equipment needed on top of the E531 series outer suburban as it departs @ 4:15… All long-distance trainsets on the Jōban Line (i.e., east of Toride) need to cope with dual-current / dual-voltage (1,500 V DC and 20,000 V AC), and their unique specs (read: limited number of available trains) will probably be a limiting factor in getting a significant number of the Tōhoku Through Line slots for Jōban Line services past Toride.



Resumption of service to Ueno, shot at the newly-widened platforms at Nippori:

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Old December 3rd, 2013, 02:46 AM   #6410
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pudgym29 View Post
Could these projects be amalgamated with J.R. East's already announced plan to build a new station between Shinagawa and Tamachi [near Toei's Sengakuji station] stations?
Well, that was the main topic of the post that you quoted me on... Basically, it's not clear how they would connect the line from Haneda into the new station at the railyard site without having to completely rebuild the Tōkaidō Freight Line approach coming due east of Sengakuji. It would need to dive over or under the parallel viaduct carrying the leads to the Tōkaidō Shinkansen railyard and then find some way to turn 90° and orient itself parallel to the JR East mainlines. Ideal would be to have separate approaches to allow trains from both the west side and east side of the Yamanote Line loop be able to get onto the freight line, but that would substantially increase the cost... Given the demand, they may be able to make it work just by switching the train's direction, assuming they could get at least one direction into the station, but I’m very doubtful they could even do that, really.

Alternatively, they could sail it up and over the Shinkansen yard leads and come into the new station at 90°, but then there’s no through-service with the existing network, substantially limiting the usefulness of the line (especially compared to the similar existing situation with the Tōkyō Monorail requiring the transfer at Hamamatsuchō).

Another permutation would be to avoid doing anything here and instead try to connect further north, but that wouldn’t really achieve the goal of connecting this new development zone to Haneda with a one-seat train ride. The airport can already be fairly easily reached with one transfer at Shinagawa to Keikyū. It's not exactly clear how they'd achieve a connection further north, though, as there is no longer a direct connection with the Tōkaidō Main Line, and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen tracks are just to the left, meaning there would still need to be a flyover somewhere anyways.

As you approach Hamamatsuchō from the south, the JR ROW does open up a bit, and you can see a fair amount of empty space in between the Tōkyō Monorail and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, I believe from the original freight line alignment to Shiodome / Tsukuji, now just a forest of scrapers:
http://www.hakanaki-jokei.com/shiodome.html

They might be able to use this space somehow, but not without doing a fair bit of work on the existing tracks, including the Shinkansen, something JR Central probably wouldn’t be too happy about.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 07:31 PM   #6411
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Progress on grade crossing improvements at less than 10%
「開かず」「危険」 踏切改善1割未満

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ec...302000145.html

Of the 1,428 grade crossings identified by the national government as in critical need of improvements due to high danger levels or long downtimes, less than 10% have been improved over the course of the last six years, according to a study by Tōkyō Shimbun, with a primary factor being the lack of progress on negotiations between local governments and railway operators regarding cost and project scope. The study appears to indicate that the national government is not doing enough as an intermediary, and that additional measures are need.

Included among the major “problem” crossings that have yet to be improved are two locations in Yokohama City: the Kawawa (川和) crossing on the JR Yokohama Line, where a woman was struck and killed trying to rescue a man at the crossing, and the Umio (生見尾) crossing on the JR Keihin–Tōhoku Line, where an elderly man was killed in August after failing to make it across the tracks in time.

According to reports submitted by the railway operators to the national government in late March 2013 regarding progress on improvements at these grade crossing locations, they reported that improvements had only been completed at 130 locations, 9% of the total number. Even including locations where work had begun on improvements, the progress stands at a mere 17%, meaning that over 80% had yet to se any significant progress towards improvement. JR East was tops among railway operators, with over 179 unimproved crossing locations.

After a 2005 incident at a grade crossing at Takenotsuka Station on the Tōbu Isesaki Line in Adachi Ward, Tōkyō that resulted in two fatalities, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) inspected all 36,000 grade crossings in Japan from 2006 to 2007. They identified locations where crossings needed to be eliminated through elevation or undergrounding, either due to excessive downtimes of 40 minutes or more due to high train obstructions to traffic flow, or narrow sidewalk widths.

MLIT policy places the cost of grade crossing improvements on the shoulders of local governments, which frequently prioritize economic strategies above safety policies. Meanwhile, while many railway operators generate a high levels of revenue, they currently refrain from taking leadership roles in such projects, instead acquiescing to MLIT policy. Many local governments say that railway operators deserve a major share of the responsibility, as well.

Fatalities at grade crossings has decreased from the 200 or so per year in the 1980s to 118 in FY2010, but increased to 121 in FY2012.



===

The crossing at Takenotsuka. They recently started work on the grade-separation here, so this will be gone in 10 years.

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Old December 3rd, 2013, 07:32 PM   #6412
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Redevelopment, expanded station plaza in store for Hon-Atsugi Station
駅前広場拡張、25階建てビルも

http://www.townnews.co.jp/0407/2013/11/29/214750.html

The detailed geographical scope of the urban redevelopment project at the South Exit of Hon-Atsugi Station in Atsugi City has been revealed.

The station plaza would be expanded to encompass portions of the site currently occupied by the ANA Happiness Building (全日空ハピネスビル) on the opposite side of the adjacent road, with the remaining portions of the project area to be redeveloped with a 25-story building. The redevelopment will encompass approx. 8,000 sq m, including the station plaza and the Asahichō (旭町) 1-25 parcel, with the station plaza being expanded from its current 3,460 sq m to about 4,530 sq m.

Property owners on the site formed a redevelopment union for the project in 2005. The Atsugi Urban Planning and Urban Development Policy (「厚木都市計画都市再開発の方針」) published by Kanagawa Prefecture in 2009 included both the redevelopment and upgrades to the station plaza. Currently, the station plaza causes conflicts between buses, taxis, and private vehicles, and it is hoped that the new station plaza will resolve these problems, together with improving pedestrian convenience. In particular, there would be spaces designated specifically for private vehicles and taxis to resolve ambiguity in where these vehicles should stop. While some citizens have called for a pedestrian deck at the station, the location of the station’s faregates at ground level, together with the potential traffic impacts due to the columns needed to support the deck, make it an unlikely proposition. Instead, some have proposed widening the sidewalk and installing canopies to improve the pedestrian experience.

Approx. 2,370 sq m of land surrounding the Resona Bank’s Atsugi branch (りそな銀行厚木支店) will be redeveloped with a 90 m, 25-story building, roughly the same height as the 26-story Atsugi Axt Main Tower (厚木アクストメインタワー) and the tallest building in central Atsugi. The lower floors would house commercial and office, while the upper floors would house approx. 150 residential units. Urban planning approvals could be obtained in FY2014, with groundbreaking in 2016.



===

Hon-Atsugi Station is a major station on the Odakyū Line. This is the North Exit, which has most of the activity, but the redevelopment and plaza improvements should help to spread some of the bustle to the South Exit as well.

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Old December 5th, 2013, 10:07 PM   #6413
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Contractor selected for Nanakuma Line extension’s Hakata Station
福岡市営地下鉄:七隈線延伸 博多駅部分、民間5社共同企業体と契約

http://mainichi.jp/area/fukuoka/news...20334000c.html

On 2013.12.04, the Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau (福岡市交通局) announced that it had signed a contract with a five-firm consortium including Taisei Corporation (大成建設) to serve as general contractor for the future Hakata Station on the 1.4 km extension of the Nanakuma Line from Tenjin Minami to Hakata. The construction schedule begins on 2013.12.05 and will continue to 2019.03.15.

This particular contract covers Hakata Ekimae (博多駅前) 2-chōme to Hakata-eki Chūōgai (博多駅中央街) and involves construction of an 8,950 sq m station on B4F and B5F at the west side of JR Hakata Station. Construction cost is approx. ¥11.2 billion.

The entire extension is estimated to cost approx. ¥45.0 billion, and will include an intermediate station between Tenjin Minami and Hakata near Canal City Hakata. Revenue service is scheduled to begin in FY2020.

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According to a Sankei Shimbun article, groundbreaking will take place in February.

A tour of the Nanakuma Line yard and maintenance facility in Hashimoto:

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Old December 5th, 2013, 10:08 PM   #6414
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New rope platform doors at JR Sakurajima Station begin testing
http://www.asahi.com/articles/OSK201312050002.html

A trial installation of JR West’s new rope-style platform doors began operating on 2013.12.05 at Sakurajima Station on the JR Yumesaki Line in Konohana Ward (此花区), Ōsaka City. The tests will last until the end of March 2014, after which the railway hopes to develop a standard design for mass production sometime in FY2017.

The prototype door system is installed on about 160 m of Platform 1, and consists of five pylons erected vertically along the platform edge, with ropes threaded through. The ropes rise up to a height of 2 m when a train is stopped at the station, allowing passengers to board trains.

None of the five major private railways in Kansai has platform doors, and JR West only has platform doors at two zairaisen stations.

===

Kyōdō News video report:



Early morning testing of the system, before start of service:

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Old December 5th, 2013, 10:10 PM   #6415
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Finally, a decent video of the newly-upgraded Settsu Motoyama Station (2013.11.28):

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Old December 5th, 2013, 10:13 PM   #6416
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Itoigawa Station upgrades complete

Upgrades to the station building at JR West’s Itoigawa Station (Itoigawa City, Niigata Prefecture) debuted to the public on 2013.12.01. While there was an existing headhouse at the north side of the station, the upgrades constructed a new south-side headhouse for the elevated Shinkansen station to open in spring 2015 with the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension to Kanazawa. The work also involved constructing a platform bridge and elevated concourse for the zairaisen tracks, as well as a north-south public passage through the station.

The elevated zairaisen concourse and the zairaisen portion of the public passage opened to the public with the start of train services on 2013.12.01. The southern portion of the public passage, through the Shinkansen station, is scheduled to be completed in autumn 2014.

===

Ceremony:



Slideshow tour:

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Old December 6th, 2013, 06:37 AM   #6417
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It appears that a new all-glass platform door design will be tested (?) at Toyosu Station on the Tōkyō Metro Yūrakuchō Line. It’s been installed on only one car length (Car 9) of Platform 4… The rest of the doors are standard designs. This would appear to be Tōkyō Metro's first foray into this type of design.
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/home_141421356/15888271.html







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Old December 6th, 2013, 04:49 PM   #6418
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Nice! The glass looks so much better actually. Really sleek.

I really look forward to seeing all the new rail improvements when I am back next week.
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Old December 10th, 2013, 02:03 AM   #6419
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Chiba City mayor to push JR to begin Rinkai Line / Keiyō Line through-services
新宿・渋谷と幕張が直通運転の可能性 千葉市長が16年度にも「試行運行」明かす

http://www.j-cast.com/2013/12/09191233.html

At the December 2013 session of the Chiba City Council, the mayor of Chiba City revealed his intention to push JR East to begin through-services between the Tōkyō Waterfront Area Rapid Transit (TWR) Rinkai Line and JR Keiyō Line as early as FY2016. The tracks of the two lines are physically connected by crossovers between Shin-Kiba and Kasai Rinkai Kōen Stations, and the original intent was to operate through-services. However, red tape, in the form of issues regarding settlement of fare revenues, has thus far proved to be the main obstacle in realizing the original goal.

Currently, passengers coming from Shinjuku and Shibuya heading to Makuhari have two potential routes. The first involves taking the Chūō Line and transferring at Tōkyō Station to the Keiyō Line, a transfer that can take as much as 8 minutes due to the distance between the Chūō Line and Keiyō Line platforms at the station. The second option involves taking a through-servicing Saikyō Line / Rinkai Line train and transferring at Shin-Kiba due to a Keiyō Line train.

The biggest reason behind the delay in through-services has to do with settling fare revenues. Construction costs for the Rinkai Line were high due to an alignment that runs through reclaimed land in Tōkyō Bay and features many tunnels. As a result, fares are set at standards that are slightly higher than other railways—the first route option from Shinjuku to Kaihin Makuhari via the Chūō Line only costs ¥620 one-way, but the second option via the Rinkai Line costs ¥920. Due to the way fares are calculated by JR in the Greater Tōkyō Suburban Area, passengers traveling between the two stations can only be charged the cheapest fare (¥620), even if they take the Rinkai Line route, meaning that TWR would see its revenues drop unless it forces passengers to get off at Shin-Kiba and pass through faregates.

But if this hurdle can be cleared, there is very little else to prevent the two railways from running through-services. Foodex Japan 2012, an international food and drink show in its 37th showing, was held in Makuhari Messe in March 2012, and the conference sponsor worked with the two railways to operate special services linking Shinjuku and Kaihin Makuhari Stations, restricted to conference attendees and event-related staff. Group charter trains are also occasionally operated from the Tōkaidō and Chūō Line to the Tōkyō Disney Resort near Maihama Station.

On 2013.12.16, the mayor of Chiba City announced his plan to have regular through-services between the Rinkai Line and Keiyō Line running on a trial basis by FY2016. Specifically, the trial would involve negotiations with TWR and JR East on operation of a Homeliner service, a type of premium-fare service operated with limited express rolling stock and designed to provide a more comfortable evening commute for passengers heading to the suburbs. Passengers pay the regular distance-based fare plus a “liner” ticket, usually around ¥500, to reserve a specific seat on the train. The mayor’s plan involves potentially increasing the cost of the “liner” ticket on the service to cover the difference in fares between the Chūō Line and Rinkai Line routes, ensuring that passengers are charged the appropriate fare and maintaining TWR’s revenue stream. Officials would then analyze the observed Homeliner passenger flows during the trial period before determining a permanent service plan.

===

As I said previously, this would seem like a no-brainer in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games… Even if they can’t reach a permanent solution regarding the fare settlement issue, at the very worst they could still operate some specials from the Keiyō Line to the Rinkai Line using regular commuter EMUs. The trains could terminate at Tōkyō Teleport, forcing everybody off at that station to discourage habitual cheating of the system, with maybe some platform control at the station to prevent passengers from Chiba from unknowingly getting off at Tōkyō Teleport and transferring to a regular Rinkai Line train to get to the Saikyō Line.
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Old December 10th, 2013, 02:04 AM   #6420
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Nickname selected for Tōhoku Through Line

Official press release:
http://www.jreast.co.jp/press/2013/20131205.pdf

On 2013.12.09, JR East announced that it had selected an official “nickname” (愛称) for the currently under-construction Tōhoku Through Line, which will re-connect three regional / suburban lines at Ueno (Utsunomiya, Takasaki, and Jōban Lines) with one line at Tōkyō (Tōkaidō Line). The selected name is the “Ueno – Tōkyō Line” (上野東京ライン).

Specifically, the railway says the name will be used to “identify through-servicing trains”:

Quote:
愛称については、宇都宮線・高崎線・常磐線と東海道線(東京・新橋・品川方面)を直通運転する列車の案内等で使用します。
JR East also announced that the line would open at FY2014 close, although no specific date has yet been revealed.

===

A bit surprising… I had always assumed they would either keep “Tōhoku Through Line” as the name of the line, or just call the trains whatever their primary line is:

e.g..
“Jōban Line for Shinagawa” (常磐線 品川行き)
“Tōkaidō Line for Ueno” (東海道線 上野行き)

You could perhaps argue that Tōhoku Through Line is a bit ambiguous and impartial, as the Utsunomiya Line / Takasaki Line are basically the Tōhoku Main Line while the Jōban Line is completely separate, but the second option (retaining the name of the primary line) seems like it would have been the simplest to implement, with the least amount of confusion… Not sure if I totally agree with JR East on this one, although it remains to be seen how exactly the “nickname” will be used in various situations.

Ibaraki Shimbun video report on Ibaraki Prefecture’s lobbying to get more slots for the Jōban Line:

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