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Old December 10th, 2013, 07:43 AM   #6421
quashlo
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Kōbe mulls through-service between subway, Hankyū
阪急神戸線と神戸市営地下鉄、相互直通運転を検討へ

http://www.asahi.com/articles/OSK201312090025.html

On 2013.12.09, the mayor of Kōbe City indicated that he was considering building a new connection between the Kōbe Municipal Subway Seishin–Yamate Line (西神・山手線) and Hankyū Corporation’s Kōbe Line near Sannomiya in order to allow the two lines to operate through-services. The plan is intended to enhance the convenience and connectivity of the Kōbe’s suburban Seishin New Town (西神ニュータウン) in the western reaches of the city Umeda in central Ōsaka. He announced the news at his first session with the City Council after being elected to office.

The current plans would call for undergrounding Hankyū Sannomiya Station and connecting it with the Seishin–Yamate Line’s Sannomiya Station. The project was included in a report published in 2004 by the Kinki Region Transport Council (近畿地方交通審議会) under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), but the city, faced with budget problems, balked at the ¥190 billion cost of the project.

However, the new mayor has said he wants to take a closer look at the merits and demerits of the project, including the engineering issues and the potential effects to neighborhoods along the Seishin–Yamate Line.



===

The Seishin–Yamate Line only operates 6-car trains, but most stations were already designed to accommodate 8-car trains, so there shouldn’t be too many fleet-related issues (Hankyū Kōbe Line is eight cars). Just from a network planning perspective, the through-service definitely makes sense, as the JR Kōbe Line, Hanshin Main Line, and Hankyū Kōbe Line all sort of converge at Sannomiya, such that the section between Sannomiya and Kōbe is basically six-tracked parallel running. The through-service would at least more evenly distribute passengers and enhance the overall network.

The Kōbe Rapid Railway is a huge mess, as it was built to bring together all of the private railways running through Kōbe, with the result being a very confusing set of through-servicing. Hankyū trains (orange) currently only through-service as far as Shin-Kaichi (via the brown segment)… They used to go as far as Suma-ura Kōen (須磨浦公園) on the San’yō Electric Railway (gray), with San’yō trains going as far as Rokkō on the Hankyū Line, but those were eventually abandoned, as San’yō – Hanshin through-services became the dominant pattern. San’yō and Hanshin are a better match from a rolling stock perspective anyways, as they both operate short trains (3-, 4- and 6-car formations) with through-services going all the way from San’yō Himeji to Hanshin Umeda.



Diverting some (or all) of the Hankyū trains to the Seishin–Yamate Line, which runs a separate east-west alignment to the north, would definitely increase the attractiveness of the suburban communities in western Kōbe, although it could come at the expense of the existing through-service with the Hokushin Express Electric Railway (北進急行電鉄) connecting into the subway at Shin-Kōbe Station. The current Sannomiya Station for the Seishin–Yamate Line is also not really an ideal layout, as it’s only single-track platforms split on two levels underground, and I doubt they have any room to expand with a second track on both levels to facilitate cross-platform transfers.

The other thing to note is that Hankyū announced that they would also redevelop their terminal at Sannomiya, following JR’s announcement that they would do the same for their station. So, if Kōbe City does move forward with connecting Hankyū into the subway, this would be the best time to do it.
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Old December 10th, 2013, 07:45 AM   #6422
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Kawagoe launches bikesharing program
川越で自転車シェア 無人ポート設置 観光、通勤にどうぞ

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/sa...402000156.html

Saitama Prefecture’s Kawagoe City launched a new bikesharing program this month. Spread across a total of 8 stations in the city, the program is expected to attract tourists looking to sightsee around the city, known as “Little Edo” (小江戸) for its similarity to the pre-modern Tōkyō, with fees starting at ¥200 for the first 40 minutes. The program will also offer commuter fare structures, with a six-month membership costing ¥6,000, in the hope of attracting bike commuters.

The city’s Transport Policy Division conducting field trials of a community bikesharing system for four and a half months from October of last year through to March of this year. Usage was high during the weekday morning and evening commutes, while midday usage was high on weekends. The city eventually decided on a five-year permanent program in the hopes of making bikesharing an established option for getting around the city, improving convenience for tourists and reducing the number of automobiles entering the city center.

The bike stations are located within a 2 km radius north of JR and Tōbu Kawagoe Stations, covering a variety of sights including the Kita-in temple (喜多院), the historic streetscape district (蔵造りの町並み), and the inner palace of Kawagoe Castle (川越城本丸御殿). Users can bike from Kawagoe Station, or park their cars at a local garage and ride on a sightseeing tour of the city.

A total of 80 bikes will be part of the fleet. Users first enroll at the station by feeding their credit card into the readers located at each station and then unlock a bike by tapping either their transport IC card or requesting issuance of a password.

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Old December 10th, 2013, 07:46 AM   #6423
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Prefectural subcommittee to restart work on new Keiyō Line station
新駅「準備会」再開へ JR京葉線、イオンモール開業で 千葉県議会

http://www.chibanippo.co.jp/news/politics/169417

On 2013.12.05, Chiba Prefecture officials announced that they are ironing out a plan to re-establish a subcommittee to look at a proposed a station on the JR Keiyō Line in Mihama Ward, Chiba City. The news coincides with the 2013.12.20 opening of the new Aeon Mall Makuhari Shin-Toshin (イオンモール幕張新都心) shopping center, and means a breath of new life for a plan that has laid dormant since 1998.

Chiba Prefecture petitioned JR East to construct the new station, located between Kaihin Makuhari and Shin-Narashino Stations in 1991. In response, the railway identified several prerequisites, including requiring Chiba Prefecture to secure land to construct a station building at the proposed site and fully fund construction of the proposed station.

While a special subcommittee was established in 1994 comprised of representatives from local businesses in the area, activities were temporarily halted in 1998. While Aeon Group announced their intention to open a shopping center near the site in December 2010, the plans for the new station have laid dormant for 15 years.

The new station would be located in the vicinity of the proposed mall. Chiba Prefecture has already offered the required land to build the station to the railway, and has also secured an additional 15,000 sq m to construct station plazas. As a petition station requiring 100% local funding, however, the final fate of the project will lie in the hands local businesses and residents.

===

A Chiba City PR film for Makuhari New Town (幕張新都心), Chiba’s suburban downtown. The biggest current attractions at Makuhari are the convention and conference center (Makuhari Messe), QVC Marine Field stadium (the home field for the Chiba Lotte Marines baseball team), the Mitsui outlet mall, but there are still quite a few undeveloped parcels, particularly around this new Aeon Mall.

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Old December 10th, 2013, 07:47 AM   #6424
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Barrier-free upgrades for Hibiya Station

Real estate developer Mitsui Fudōsan (三井不動産) recently announced their development plans for their New Hibiya Project (新日比谷プロジェクト) in the Hibiya / Yūrakuchō district of Chiyoda Ward in central Tōkyō:
http://www.mitsuifudosan.co.jp/corpo...206/index.html

Normally, I wouldn’t post anything about this, but this particular project is interesting because it has some developer-driven improvements for Tōkyō Metro’s Hibiya Station—specifically, construction of new barrier-free (fully-accessible) routes connecting the Hibiya Line and Chiyoda Line stations, as well as a 1,200 sq m underground plaza / concourse. For a single development, it’s reasonably large (only 192 m, B4F to 35F, but with 185,000 sq m GFA on 10,700 sq m of land). It’s fairly common to have developers build new station entrances / exits, although I believe this is definitely one of the larger developer-driven packages of station improvements in a while.

Building and street-level renders:





The more interesting stuff—the underground plaza connecting the two stations:





This is also somewhat notable given the MLIT’s push for more funding mechanisms at the national level to facilitate new stations and upgrades to existing stations as more mega-developments pop up in central Tōkyō. The motivation behind those efforts was the Toranomon Hills project, which is about 300 m or more walking distance from the closest stations (Toranomon Station on the Ginza Line and Kamiyachō Station on the Hibiya Line). Mitsui’s project is in a far better location, basically sitting atop Hibiya Station.

The Nikkei Shimbun has a good report on the details of this funding program, which I posted about a few months ago… Basically, the new program would involve neighborhoods that are 300 m or more from the closest rail station in the following areas, and would allow private developers to take the lead on major infrastructure upgrades like new stations, which can cost an average of about ¥12 billion according to the Urban Renaissance Agency (都市再生機構):

Hokkaidō
Central Sapporo (札幌中心部)

Tōkyō Prefecture
Central Tōkyō and Tōkyō Waterfront (東京都心部・臨海部)
Shinagawa Station / Tamachi Station area (品川駅・田町駅周辺)
Shinjuku Station area (新宿駅周辺)
Shibuya Station area (渋谷駅周辺)

Kanagawa Prefecture
Central Yokohama and Yokohama Waterfront (横浜中心部・臨海部)
Kawasaki Tonomachi / Daishi-gawara (川崎殿町・大師河原)

Aichi Prefecture
Nagoya Station area / Fushimi / Sakae (名古屋駅周辺・伏見・栄)

Ōsaka Prefecture
Ōsaka Station area / Nakanoshima / Midōsuji area (大阪駅周辺・中之島・御堂筋周辺)
Ōsaka Cosmosquare Station (大阪コスモスクエア駅周辺)

Fukuoka Prefecture
Central Fukuoka (福岡中心部)

The location of Toranomon Hills relative to the nearest rail stations. This will be Tōkyō’s new tallest building (not including the Sky Tree), and there are multiple other projects in various stages in the surrounding area (Kamiyachō / Toranomon districts), including the joint redevelopment of the National Printing Bureau (国立印刷局) / Kyōdō News Building (共同通信会館) / Toranomon Hospital (国家公務員共済組合連合会虎の門病院) parcels and the Akasaka 1-chōme redevelopment (赤坂一丁目地区市街地再開発事業), which could overload the existing stations in the area.

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Old December 10th, 2013, 09:16 PM   #6425
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Hiroshima City publishes results of alternatives analysis for Astram Line extension
アストラムライン延伸計画 採算性では「西広島」

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/hir...OYT8T01313.htm

Hiroshima City has published estimated costs and ridership forecasts for the three alternatives under consideration for an extension of the 18.4 km Astram Line guideway transit system linking Hon-dōri in central Hiroshima with Kōiki Kōen-mae (広域公園前), operate by third-sector railway Hiroshima Rapid Transit (広島高速交通). The analysis indicates that the only alternative expected to be financially viable is the Nishi-Hiroshima option, a 7 km extension of the Astram Line to JR Nishi-Hiroshima Station (Nishi Ward, Hiroshima City). The city plans to designate the option as the preferred alternative.

The other two options include the 9-10 km Shin-Inokuchi route to JR Shin-Inokuchi Station (新井口駅) in Nishi Ward and the 10-11 km Itsukaichi route to JR Itsukaichi Station (五日市駅) in Saeki Ward. Both stations also have Hiroden stops in close proximity.

The alternatives analysis involved construction cost estimates and 2030 ridership forecasts for the three options, The Nishi-Hiroshima route proved to be the least costly, requiring only ¥50.0 billion to ¥57.0 billion, beating the Shin-Inokuchi route (¥59.0 billion to ¥71.5 billion) and Itsukaichi route (¥61.0 billion to ¥71.5 billion). The Nishi-Hiroshima route would also generate the highest daily ridership, coming in at about 15,000 compared to 12,000 for the Shin-Inokuchi route and 11,000 to 13,000 for the Itsukaichi route.

The city also looked at the overall cash flows and the final balance statement for each option 30 years after opening. The Nishi-Hiroshima route would come out in the black if the city funds two-thirds (approx. ¥6.0 billion to ¥7.5 billion) of the infrastructure upgrade costs. The Shin-Inokuchi route would be in the red about ¥2.1 billion to ¥3.1 billion (assuming funding assistance of ¥14.0 billion to ¥15.0 billion), while the Itsukaichi route would be in the red about ¥2.2 billion to ¥7.9 billion (assuming funding assistance of ¥12.0 billion to ¥14.0 billion).

Hiroshima City originally proposed an extension of the Astram Line from Kōiki Kōen-mae back towards central Hiroshima in 1999, but the plans were shelved in 2004 due to the city’s budget problems. The current mayor, elected in 2011, has since revised the development plans for the Hiroshima Seifū Shinto (ひろしま西風新都) spread across the city’s Asa Minami and Saeki Wards, and in FY2013, began looking at opportunities for value engineering on the extension, including building the extension as single-track and opting for steeper grades.

===

I think most people forget about the Astram Line since it’s mostly for local passengers… Plus, Hiroshima is the best tram city in Japan.

Rush hour on the Hiroden tracks along Aioi-dōri through Downtown Hiroshima:



Cab view on the interurban line, Route 2 (Hiroshima Station to Miyajima-guchi) (2013.09.25). The first part is along main streets in the central city, but the alignment begins to get interesting around 21:45 (narrow street running) and 22:30 (tram-only bridge). The exclusive ROW begins at Nishi-Hiroshima Station (32:20), where we can see some of the mainline roots of this portion of the route, including the longer, high platforms… The high-level platforms still remain at several stations, and even where they’ve lowered the platform height, in many cases you can see the base of the columns supporting the platform canopies (or the platform canopies themselves) give away the original high-level platform height. Also of interest is the event-only stop at the boat racecourse (1:07:05).

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Old December 10th, 2013, 11:53 PM   #6426
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I rode the Astram line quite a few times while attending Hiroshima Shudo University, which is located right at the last stop on the line, Koiki Koen-mae. Astram is unusual in that unlike most other Shin-Kotsu systems, the trains have drivers. I really liked the Astram because of the view. The Bishamondai station struck me as interesting/unusual, because it has a bridge connecting it directly to the neighborhood perched atop a cliff right next to the station.

But the truth is, as much as I liked the Astram, I rode the bus more often, since the Astram takes a long, slow horseshoe route around, while the buses through the Seifu tunnel are a very direct route (with cheaper fare to boot.) This extension will give areas currently at the end of the line much better access to the center of town, and should boost ridership on Astram.

Nishi Hiroshima station used to be called Koi (己斐). The JR station was renamed in 1969 but the Hiroden station kept the old name until 2001. I lived there for a year back in 2003 and many of the destination marquees on the Hiroden trains terminating at Nishi Hiroshima still said Koi.

The 90s era Astram expansion plans also called for extension beyond Nishi Hiroshima/Koi towards the center of town, along Heiwa Odori all the way to Hiroshima Station, but that plan seems to be no longer under consideration.

I don't follow Hiroshima politics (or, honestly, Japanese politics) but I have to wonder if all the recent movement on long-dormant transit projects in Hiroshima (this, plus the Hiroden realignment at Hiroshima station, and the Hakushima Shin-Eki project) might not be related to a change in leadership. For the decade of the 2000s the Hiroshima government seemed highly focused on expressway construction, with only very minimal improvements to transit.

Last edited by orulz; December 11th, 2013 at 12:10 AM.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 10:08 PM   #6427
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New station coming to Chikuhi Line
筑肥線に新駅設置へ JR九州、地元負担で建設

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNAS...3A211C1ACY000/

In regards to requests by residents in Fukuoka Prefecture’s Itoshima City (糸島市) to establish a new station on the Chikuhi Line, it was revealed on 2013.12.10 that JR Kyūshū is in the final stages of the planning process and intends to move forward with the plan. With an expected increase in residential population at the station site due to land readjustment and redevelopment and the continuing upward trend of ridership on the Chikuhi Line, which serves a campus of Kyūshū University (九州大学) along its route, the railway determined that the new station would generate some level of additional revenue.

The new station will be constructed between Chikuzen Maebaru (筑前前原) and Hatae (波多江) Stations, both located in Itoshima City and currently about 3 km distant from each other. A local committee was established to help push the project, which is expected to improve convenience for city residents and help revitalize the city. A petition was filed with JR Kyūshū in 2012, after which the two parties began negotiations.

The construction costs for the station building, platforms, station plaza, and access roads will be borne by the local government, while the railway will operate the facilities. Construction of the new station will be coordinated with the ongoing redevelopment around the station, and the opening is expected to take place in 2017 or 2018. The basic design submitted by the local committee to JR Kyūshū calls for a modern station design with elevated concourse and platform bridge (橋上駅). Construction cost is estimated to be approx. ¥800 million, with daily ridership of around 1,000 passengers.

This will be JR Kyūshū’s first new zaraisen (non-Shinkansen) station in Fukuoka Prefecture since Shingū Chūō Station (新宮中央駅) opened on the Kagoshima Main Line in Shingū Town (新宮町) in 2010.

===

A tour of Meinohama Station, the border between the JR Chikuhi Line and Fukuoka City Subway Airport Line. This is Kyūshū’s only subway through-service.



Chikuhi Line cab view (Nishi-Karatsu to Meinohama) on a 103 series rapid. Chikuzen Maebaru begins at 36:30.

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Old December 11th, 2013, 10:11 PM   #6428
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Okayama City mayor considers bringing trams into JR station
岡山駅への路面電車乗り入れ検討 イオン開業踏まえ岡山市長

http://www.sanyo.oni.co.jp/news_s/ne...3121022344854/

On 2013.12.10, the mayor of Okayama City indicated that studies should be commissioned to consider extending the city’s trams, operated by Okayama Electric Tramway (岡山電気軌道), into the East Exit station plaza at JR Okayama Station. The mayor made the statement at the November regular session of the City Council, saying he hopes to have the necessary funding included in the package of downtown revitalization strategies under the FY2014 proposed budget.

The current closest tramway stop is the tram terminal near the JR station, located about 130 km from the East Exit of the station, across the road leading to City Hall. Passengers have complained that the current terminal is inconvenient and not user-friendly. The mayor says bringing the trams directly into the East Exit station plaza would make it easier to move around the downtown via the trams and enhance convenience for passengers getting off of JR trains.

The city’s urban transportation plan published in 2009 establishes an extension of the tramway system into the station as a long-term goal, but the mayor says the situation has changed dramatically since then as a result of the upcoming opening of Aeon Mall Okayama next autumn, expected to attract 20 million visitors annually.

Current tram terminal at the station:



===

Okayama has a charming little tram system, although I can fully agree that it’s a bit of a hassle to get from the JR station to the terminal as you have to go underground or use the circuitous street-level crossings… Bringing it directly into the station plaza would be a fairly substantial improvement, although it would likely require a major redesign of the plaza. Given that they want to bring the Megurin downtown shuttle service into the East Exit plaza anyways, this may be the best time to do a complete makeover to increase the number of bus bays and bring the trams directly into the plaza.

The Aeon Mall (イオンモール岡山) will be the largest in Western Japan, encompassing a whopping 250,000 sq m GFA (880,000 sq m total leasable area) and 350 stores spread across B2F to 8F on a 46,000 sq m parcel previously occupied by a surface parking lot (originally the HQ of a major pharmaceutical company). It’s a downtown location less than 200 m from the East Exit, so bringing the tram terminal directly into the station plaza would also reduce the walking distance substantially and eliminate the need to cross the main road outside the station (市役所筋).

Promo video for Okayama Electric Tramway and Wakayama Electric Railway:

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Old December 11th, 2013, 10:12 PM   #6429
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Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Electric Railway to introduce new 9000 series train
大阪府・北大阪急行電鉄に新型車両9000形「POLESTAR II」、2014年春に導入

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2013/12/11/369/

On 2013.12.11, Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Electric Railway (“North Ōsaka Express Electric Railway” 北大阪急行電鉄) announced that it would introduce a new 9000 series commuter EMU, dubbed the Polestar II, in spring 2014. The railway operates one line between Senri Chūō (千里中央) and Esaka (江坂), where trains through-service with the Ōsaka Municipal Subway Midōsuji Line.

Currently, the railway operates has one rolling stock design in its fleet, the 8000 series. The new trains will represent somewhat of a departure from the 8000 series, opting for unpainted stainless steel, although the interior will draw elements from the current trains, including wood laminate panels and “golden olive” seating. The new trains will feature modern equipment including hermetic motors, new AC equipment, low-noise IGBT VVVF drives and air compressors, and all-LED lighting (both interior and exterior), reducing the train’s noise and improving energy efficiency by 25% compared to current VVVF stock. Seat partitions near the doors will be enlargened and designed with stanchions to increase passenger support during unexpected braking, the car floor lowered to reduce height differences with stations platforms, and wheelchair spaces designated inside the train. Other standard additions include exterior partitions between cars to prevent passengers from falling off the platform and door opening / closing lights.

===

Official press release:
http://www.kita-kyu.co.jp/upload/014..pdf

As indicated in one of the renders, it looks like this will be an order with Kinki Sharyō.

The 8000 series, the first-generation Polestar. A total of 7 sets (70 cars total) were manufactured by Alna Kōki (アルナ工機), now Alna Sharyō (アルナ車両). The new 9000 series will gradually replace the 8000 series.

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Old December 11th, 2013, 10:14 PM   #6430
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MLIT issues planning approvals for Higashi-Murayama Station elevation

Official press release:
http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/INET/OSHIR...2/20nca200.htm

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism recently issued planning approvals for this ¥71.4 billion project, the continuous grade-separation of about 4.5 km total of the Seibu Shinjuku Line, Kokubunji Line, and Seibu-en Line surrounding Higashi-Murayama Station. A total of 5 grade crossings will be eliminated and 0.8 km of frontage roads will be constructed parallel to the railway viaducts to be constructed.

Specifically, the project encompasses the following segments:
  • 2,305 m of the Shinjuku Line from Honchō (本町) 4-chōme to Kumegawachō (久米川町) 5-chōme
  • 790 m of the Kokubunji Line from Honchō 2-chōme to Honchō 1-chōme
  • 1,385 m of the Seibu-en Line from Honchō 2-chōme to Noguchichō (野口町) 4-chōme
Project schedule lasts from FY2013 to FY2024.





===

With the approvals in place, we could see groundbreaking soon on this fairly extensive grade-separation project.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 10:16 PM   #6431
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ANN news report on the “Ueno‒Tōkyō Line”, with some scenes of construction progress on the line:



There are already some articles about the confusion expected when services first begin, still more than a year away.
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/ne...OYT1T00711.htm

Of particular concern is the probably need for additional information to distinguish Shōnan–Shinjuku Line and Ueno‒Tōkyō Line services. The Shōnan–Shinjuku Line takes the west side of the Yamanote Line loop, serving Ikebukuro, Shibuya, and Shinjuku, while the Ueno‒Tōkyō Line trains will take the east side of the loop, serving Ueno, Tōkyō, and Shinagawa. While distances are about the same through central Tōkyō, even JR East is still uncertain how travel times will compare across both routes, and how these nuances will ultimately be divulged to the average passenger.

In all likelihood, we may see use of “via” (経由) in destination signs and announcements, assuming we see through-services beyond Ueno for the Tōkaidō Line and beyond Shinagawa for the Utsunomiya Line / Takasaki Line / Jōban Line.

e.g.,
For Takasaki via Shinjuku (新宿経由高崎行き) → Shōnan–Shinjuku Line
For Takasaki via Tōkyō (東京経由高崎行き) → Ueno‒Tōkyō Line

And as usual when services are extended or through-services begin, the passengers who originally were able to get on at the first few stations get a bit grumpy because their chances of getting a seat will diminish dramatically.

I had sort of overlooked this, but perhaps JR East will treat the new services as an entirely separate line, in the same fashion that Shōnan–Shinjuku Line trains are fully distinguished from the parent lines (Tōkaidō Line, Yokosuka Line, Takasaki Line, and Utsunomiya Line).
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Old December 12th, 2013, 03:41 AM   #6432
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Schedule changes for Toyama Chihō Railroad to take effect 2013.12.26
富山県・富山地方鉄道が12/26ダイヤ改正! 新駅開業、増発社会実験も実施へ

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2013/12/11/367/

On 2013.12.11, Toyama Chihō Railroad announced that it would implement changes to its train schedule in concert with the opening of the new Shin-Ainoki (新相ノ木) Station on 2013.12.26. The local private railway in Toyama also announced that it would begin a trial to increase train service on the Nishi-Uozu (西魚津) – Unazuki Onsen (宇奈月温泉) section of its main line on the same day.

The new station is a petition station located about 0.8 km from the existing Ainoki Station (相ノ木駅) and 1.2 km from Kamiichi Station (上市駅). All local trains on the main line will serve the station starting 2013.12.26. One-way fares to the railway’s terminal in Toyama will be ¥580 (adult). The railway will begin offering commuter passes for the new station starting 2013.12.12, two weeks before the opening.

In addition to minor revisions to train times, the schedule changes also include increased service (4 additional trips a day) on the Nishi-Uozu – Unazuki Onsen section of the railway’s main line, as well as new fast trains to connect to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (立山黒部アルペンルート), a famous mountain sightseeing route.


===

In related news, the railway is also suspending train service between Nagaya (長屋) and Shitayama (舌山) for a 12-day period from 2013.12.09 through 2013.12.20 to accommodate construction work for the new Shin-Kurobe Station, the future interchange between the railway and the new Kurobe – Unazuki Onsen Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, scheduled to open in spring 2015. Bus service will be provided to fill in the gap, connecting Ogyū (荻生) and Shitayama.
http://response.jp/article/2013/12/06/212423.html

It’s very rare to see an extended closure like this for a railway in Japan, but this is a small private railway, and I imagine the closure probably only affects a few hundred daily passengers at the most.

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Old December 12th, 2013, 03:43 AM   #6433
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New Platforms 15 / 16 debut at Shin-Ōsaka Station
JR西日本、新大阪駅ホーム増設工事の進捗で12/8から15・16番のりばを変更

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2013/12/03/356/

The latest milestone in JR West’s upgrades to Shin-Ōsaka Station to accommodate the future extension of the Ōsaka Higashi Line was reached on 2013.12.08, when the new Platforms 15 /16 opened for service. The first milestone in the project was reached last year on 2012.12.16, when JR West completed the new Platforms 17 / 18 (5th island platform) on the east side of the station. The original Platforms 17 / 18 were since redesigned to serve as the new Platforms 15 / 16 (4th island platform), with the station’s track layout modified to connect the tracks to the appropriate platforms. The switchout took place on from 2013.12.07 to 2013.12.08. Work will continue on the remaining platforms in similar steps, gradually sliding Platforms 13 / 14 (3rd island platform) and Platforms 11 / 12 (2nd island platform) east.

Also included in this latest milestone is a new crossover at the Ōsaka end of Platform 16, allowing JR West to better segregate special rapid trains from rapid and local trains on the inner outbound (for Ōsaka) track. Previously, the special rapids were forced to use the inside track from Shin-Ōsaka to Ōsaka, but this now makes it possible for them to use the outside track. The new platforms also feature LED lighting, which consumes 35% less electricity than the existing lighting systems.



===

Official press release:
http://www.westjr.co.jp/press/articl...page_4873.html

A series of video reports:

Views at concourse and platform level:



New LED departure boards on the new platforms:



The now-closed former Platforms 15 / 16, which will eventually be reborn as the new Platforms 13 / 14. If the latest opening is any indication, we should probably see that switchout take place next year around the same time.



Special rapids using the outside track:

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Old December 12th, 2013, 03:46 AM   #6434
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Replacement of Jōban Rapid Line’s Tone River Bridge

Another somewhat unusual project was completed on the weekend of 2013.12.07 / 2013.12.08, this time in the Tōkyō area. Specifically, this involved the replacement of the Jōban Rapid Line inbound track’s steel truss bridge over the Tone River (利根川), located between Tennōdai and Toride Stations.

First, some pics from 2012.09.16 to show the actual construction.
http://rail.hobidas.com/blog/natori/.../post_416.html

The new bridge is downstream of the original. The third bridge in behind the other two is for the Jōban Local Line (this section of the Jōban Line is quad-tracked).



Views from the upstream side. The 986 m bridge for the inbound rapid track was only erected in 1962, but according to documents from the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (土木学会), reuses the original curved Pratt truss sections constructed in 1916, manufactured by東京石川島造船所, now known as IHI Corporation, a major heavy-machinery manufacturer. The outbound rapid track is much younger, a Warren truss design completed in 1957 and manufactured by Yokogawa Bridge Corporation (横河橋梁).





Construction of the new bridge was an unusual affair, with rails temporarily laid atop the existing truss bridge and a rail crane wheeled out to do the heavy lifting. The new bridge is a 1,040 m lower-deck Warren truss bridge (maximum span 132 m). The next step will be the switchout of the outbound track, to take place in about a year.





===

Some videos. The switchout took place from around 5:30 pm on 2013.12.07 to around 5:40 am the next day.

Trains on the old inbound track:



Construction work at Toride Station on the evening of 2013.12.07. The station is basically at the east end of the bridge.



Cab view on the new inbound track. Obviously, they were being fairly ginger right after the switch-out, implementing a temporary slow zone.

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Old December 12th, 2013, 09:50 PM   #6435
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New ¥140 billion loan package for Indonesia includes money for Jakarta MRT
インドネシアに新たに円借款

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/2013...754911000.html

A joint Japan–Indonesia conference of Cabinet ministries was held in Tōkyō, where Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida Fumio announced a ¥140 billion loan package to fund infrastructure improvements in Indonesia. Included is money earmarked for construction of the north-south and east-west lines of the Jakarta MRT project.

===

Apparently, there was a grade crossing accident a couple days ago on the commuter railways in Jakarta involving an ex-Tōkyō Metro 7000 series train. Grade crossing accidents of this severity are fairly rare in Japan, so it’s a bit jarring to see the damage. Given the limited number of fatalities and track condition, perhaps it was traveling quite a bit slower than top speed. Obviously, the MRT is an important project, but hopefully they will also put some money into grade-separation of the KRL system.

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Old December 12th, 2013, 09:52 PM   #6436
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Japan rail car makers up U.S. orders, global cachet
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/201...global-cachet/

Quote:
Getting a roll-by: A worker checks subway cars at a Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. plant in New York on Nov. 15. | KYODO


NEW YORK – Japanese manufacturers of railway cars are making inroads into the United States, taking a sizable share of orders in a market seen as a touchstone for success in globalization by overcoming challenges on the cost front such as the requirement to raise local content.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. has won an order for subway vehicles from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, breaking into what had been a stronghold for European manufacturers. It will be delivering up to 748 subway cars worth a total of about $1.48 billion starting this year.

Behind Kawasaki’s achievement appears to be discontent with previous suppliers. An executive with the Washington transit authority said European manufacturers give good presentations when they enter bids but don’t send good engineers after winning orders.

Kawasaki was also apparently picked by the transit authority for its track record of delivering high-performance vehicles for the New York City subway system, which have received favorable reviews.

Hiroji Iwasaki, an executive officer in Kawasaki Heavy’s rolling stock unit, said the firm’s growing presence in the U.S. market “is largely attributable to the high product quality and technological edge that we have achieved by meeting the rigorous demands of our client railway companies in Japan for quality.”

The new vehicles for the Washington D.C. area use energy-saving light-emitting diodes for lighting and come with more seating space. They are “next-generation vehicles designed for easier servicing,” Iwasaki said.

In September, Kawasaki Heavy announced it received orders for train cars from two railway companies linking central New York City with its suburbs — Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

Up to 676 cars worth a total of $1.83 billion will be delivered to the carriers starting in 2017. Kawasaki Heavy is delivering cars for Metro-North’s Harlem Line and its Hudson Line, which experienced a derailment Sunday that left four passengers dead and more than 60 others injured.

Three Japanese manufacturers — Kawasaki, Nippon Sharyo Co. and Kinki Sharyo Co. — garnered about 43 percent of rail car orders in the United States between 2008 and 2013, according to data compiled by Kawasaki. The figure stands out when compared with their estimated 10 percent share of the global market.

Kawasaki is the biggest among the three, holding 25 percent of the $9.37 billion market, followed by Nippon Sharyo’s 11 percent and Kinki Sharyo’s 7 percent. Canada’s Bombardier also controls 25 percent, though it delivered more in quantity terms.

Kinki Sharyo received an order in 2012 for light rail vehicles from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and is expected to deliver up to 470 cars for a total of about $890 million. Nippon Sharyo has also made deliveries to the L.A. transit authority.

The Japanese manufacturers, however, face some challenges. In line with a law to promote U.S. products, many of the orders placed by U.S. companies require that at least 60 percent of procurement in value terms must be of American products and final assembly must be conducted in the United States.

“It’s tough to turn a profit,” a source said.

Nippon Sharyo, which won an order in 2012 to produce double-decker cars from the state of California, faced an even stricter domestic content requirement and was forced to expand its Illinois factory at a cost of about ¥5.2 billion (about $50 million).

Kawasaki Heavy’s Iwasaki said, “We are getting positive feedback about Asian bids such as a Singapore subway order we are aiming to grab, thanks to our track record in the United States.”
Some very surprising numbers regarding the share of the U.S. railcar market… Just goes to show how big the MTA orders are for Kawasaki, so it’s definitely promising for their future in the U.S. that they have a good relationship with them.
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Old December 12th, 2013, 09:53 PM   #6437
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City-operated buses in Kyōto to begin accepting IC cards
京都市バス:ICカード化 74路線、760台一斉に 全国の交通系と相互利用も−−来年度中に

http://mainichi.jp/area/kyoto/news/2...40684000c.html

On 2013.12.02, Kyōto City announced that it is aiming to rollout an IC card system on municipally-operated buses sometime next fiscal year. The system would be rolled out simultaneously across all 74 bus routes and 760 vehicles in the city-operated bus fleet. The system would be designed with nationwide interoperability, enhancing convenience for passengers coming from the Kantō region and other parts of Japan, who will be able to use their local IC cards to pay for fares. The city hopes that acceptance of IC cards will also help boost ridership on the bus sytem.

Similar IC card systems are already in use on municipally-operated bus systems in Ōsaka City and Kōbe City, and introduction of a system onto Kyōto’s publicly-operated buses has been a hot topic of debate for some time. The city’s subway system already introduced IC cards in 2007 and joined the nationwide interoperability program in March of this year.

In its proposed budget for this fiscal year, the city included about ¥380 million in software development for the system and other costs. Next fiscal year’s budget will include earmarks to cover the cost of introducing card readers and other equipment.

===

Some leisurely cab views on Kyōto buses:

Route 10, which starts in the hillier parts of the city.
Yamagoe (山越) – Omuro Ninna-ji (御室仁和寺) – Kitano Hakubaichō (北野白梅町) – Shijō–Kawaramachi (四条河原町)



Route 100 Express, a loop route out of Kyōto Station that hits many of the major tourist destinations.
Kyōto Station (京都駅前) – Gojō-zaka(五条坂) – Kiyomizu-michi (清水道) – Higashiyama–Sanjō (東山三条) – Kyōto Kaikan Hall / Kyōto Art Museums (京都会館美術館前) – Higashi-Tennōchō (東天王町) – Ginkaku-ji-michi (銀閣寺道)

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Old December 12th, 2013, 09:54 PM   #6438
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Yurikamome 7300 series will debut on 2014.01.18
ゆりかもめの新型車両7300系、1/18デビュー! 新橋駅ホームで出発式も開催!

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2013/12/12/505/

On 2013.12.02, Yurikamome announced that the new 7300 series would debut in revenue service starting 2014.01.18. A special ceremony will be held at Shinbashi Station to commemorate the new train.



===

Testing videos. The 7300 series will replace the line’s entire current fleet, the 7000 series. A total of 18 trains (108 cars) will be introduced by 2016, well before the 2020 Olympics.

At Shijō-mae Station, the future site of the relocated Tsukiji Market:



At Ariake Tennis no Mori:

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Old December 12th, 2013, 09:55 PM   #6439
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JR East files application for ¥1-increment new fare structure
山手線初乗り133円と140円 JR東が二重運賃申請

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNAS...3A211C1CC1000/

On 2013.12.12, JR East announced that it would implement a new fare structure starting April 2014 for IC cardholders that will calculate fares to the nearest ¥1 as part of the upcoming increase in the consumption tax rate to 8%. Paper tickets bought at ticket vending machines would continue to be calculated at ¥10 increments, meaning the railway will switch to a two-tiered fare system. These are the first fare raises for JR since April 1997, when the consumption tax was increased to 5%.

In general, fares at ¥10 increments are calculated to the nearest ¥10, but fares in the designated Greater Tōkyō “Special Zone” (電車特定区間), which includes most of the major JR East lines in Tōkyō, are always rounded up. As a result, the new fare structure for IC cardholders will be cheaper within the zone, although outside of the zone, there may be cases where IC cardholders are charged more. As an example, the base fare for JR East will increase to ¥140 for paper tickets and ¥133 (special zone) or ¥144 (other areas) for IC cardholders.

Tōkyū Corporation and other private railways in the Tōkyō area are also considering adopting ¥1-increment fare structures for IC cardholders. Toei Subway has already said it would implement a similar system, but that it’s version would only take effect starting June 1, 2014 due to additional time needed to modify the fare collection systems software.

===

Official press release:
http://www.jreast.co.jp/press/2013/20131209.pdf

ANN news report:





The other interesting things are that they will begin offering Suica cards at ¥1,000 (currently, you must purchase a card for ¥2,000, and the card will come with ¥1,500 of value). They will also lower the minimum charge increment when you want to add value to your Suica card from the current ¥1,000 to ¥500, but this will only affect TVMs outside of the faregates… Fare adjustment machines located within the faregates already allow you to add value in ¥10 increments.

The revised fare structures for IC cardholders will only affect those with anonymous cards… Cardholders with account-based cards tied to their name (i.e., commuter pass holders) will be assessed their fares according to the paper-ticket fare structure.

In terms of how these new fares will be presented to passengers on the fare charts:

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Old December 12th, 2013, 09:57 PM   #6440
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Not sure if I really agree with how they’ve implemented it… Suica commuter pass holders should be charged the IC card rates and they should just move to always rounding up to the nearest ¥10 for paper-tickets instead of rounding up or down to the nearest ¥10… At least that way, the smartcards are consistently cheaper, with the justification being that smartcards are more efficient and reduce paper waste. I’m sure there are good logistical reasons they didn’t do this, but it does make it a bit of a crapshoot when you’re outside the “Special Zone” as then there is no guarantee that IC card is cheaper. What’s particularly disconcerting is that the “Special Zone” doesn’t quite cover everything, as the mainlines (Tōkaidō, Chūō, Tōhoku, Jōban, Sōbu) aren’t completely covered:

Tōkaidō Main Line: Tōkyō – Ōfuna, Shinagawa – Shin-Kawasaki – Tsurumi
Nambu Line: All stations
Tsurumi Line: All stations
Musashino Line: All stations
Yokohama Line: All stations
Negishi Line: All stations
Yokosuka Line: All stations
Chūō Main Line: Kanda – Takao
Ōme Line: All stations
Itsukaichi Line: All stations
Tōhoku Main Line: Tōkyō – Ōmiya, Nippori – Oku – Akabane, Akabane – Musashi Urawa – Ōmiya
Yamanote Line: All stations
Akabane Line: All stations
Jōban Line: Nippori – Toride
Sōbu Main Line: Tōkyō – Chiba, Kinshichō – Ochanomizu
Keiyō Line: Tōkyō – Chiba Minato, Ichikawa Shiohama – Nishi-Funabashi – Minami-Funabashi
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