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Old March 19th, 2014, 08:49 PM   #6881
quashlo
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More bus service coming to Hiroshima Airport
JR白市駅からの広島空港連絡バス、3月末から増便運行

http://flyteam.jp/news/article/32848

With the end nearing for a trial program to operate high-frequency bus service connecting Shiraichi (白市) Station on the JR San’yō Main Line with Hiroshima Airport, Hiroshima Prefecture announced that it will continue operating the expanded schedule of direct buses starting 2014.03.30, with assistance from the airport operator.

The trial began on 2013.07.20, operating high-frequency service on the route connecting the airport with the closest JR station. Ridership grew well over 20% compared to FY2012 numbers, and the Prefecture confirmed that the service improvements produced some level of benefit, attracting new riders that originally did not take the JR route via Shiraichi. As a result, the Prefecture will continue the expanded service, and is planning to add more trips to the schedule. The service will continue to be operated by Geiyō Bus (芸陽バス).

The new schedule will feature an enhanced morning schedule, with buses bound for the airport operating every 20 minutes from the start of service through the 0900 hour. The schedule will also be adjusted to give more slack at the airport end, allowing passengers more time at the airport.

The new schedule will add a total of 7 direct trips departing JR Shiraichi Station and 6 direct trips departing the airport, bringing the total daily schedule to 26 trips to and 25 from the airport.
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Old March 19th, 2014, 08:50 PM   #6882
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JR Nagoya Station: Almost a town within a city
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/201...-within-a-city

Quote:
Of the 193,000 people who pass daily through the main station of Japan’s third city, Nagoya, most are probably unaware they are in a building with no rival in the entire world. The station complex, known as the Twin Towers, is a Guinness World Records holder complete with a plaque proclaiming, “The JR Central Towers is the world’s largest station building, with: 410,000 sq. meters (4,413,000 sq. feet) of floor space and a height of 245 meters (803.8 feet).”

The cylindrical skyscrapers which soar over the city consist of the 53-story Hotel Tower and the 51-floor Office Tower, which share a common base 15 floors high — with another six floors below ground. The station towers contain gardens, spas, cafes, bars, restaurants, department stores and an international hotel.

Ascending to the upper floors on certain days can be an astonishing experience, as you get to gaze at clouds at the same height, adding a surreal touch to the dramatic vastness of the city spread out below. But atop both towers, the brilliant views can be enjoyed at the same time as indulging in some serious creature comforts. On the 51st and top floor of the Office Tower, the old observation deck has been converted into cafe, wine bar and a beauty spa. The Hotel Tower has a lounge, restaurant and banqueting room on its 51st and 52nd floors.

The Twin Towers replaced the old station built in 1886 by Japan Rail’s forerunner, Japanese National Railways. JNR, crippled by mismanagement and burdened with debt, was privatized in 1987. The Towers started rising in 1994, and took five years to build. The gleaming, futuristic complex was completed in December 1999 — just in time for the new millennium.

Nagoya was heavily bombed during World War II, along with most of the other cities in Aichi Prefecture, an aircraft-manufacturing hub. As a result, there are not many historic districts left, and the only distinctive old landmark visible from the station is Nagoya Castle, distinguished by golden whales decorating its roofs.

The mass of skyscrapers and office blocks, which replaced the old town destroyed by U.S. bombs, are much the same as those found in any other modern city around the world. So Nagoya is a place not many tourists go out of their way to see, and it has something of a reputation for soullessness. In fact the lack of foreign faces on its streets gives it a distinctly local character — though it is, if you get to know it, a vibrant and most interesting city. New, boldly executed — even to some eyes beautiful — architecture such as the station towers, very well designed for myriad functions, just adds to its appeal.

The three main commercial activities of the skyscrapers — the hotel, department stores and offices for rent — are run in partnership with JR Nagoya Station. The three companies created for the purpose had a combined turnover of ¥151.8 billion last year.

The Office Tower has 60,000 sq. meters of space for rent and the company running it showed its commercial acumen last year by achieving close to full occupancy.

The Hotel Tower is dominated by the Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel, which takes up 4,100 sq. meters, or 10 percent, of the station complex. On its ground floor is a quiet, softly lit cafe, seemingly a world away from the tumult of the station though the two are in fact separated only by a 30-second walkway.

Check-in is on the 15th floor, where there is a more spacious cafe and also a restaurant with a huge wall of windows. Its reasonably priced dinner buffets, usually themed on different countries or regions of the world, are popular with Nagoya residents — as are its striking night-time views of the city. From here to floor 53 there are banqueting and wedding facilities, bars, restaurants, 774 guest rooms and a swimming pool.

One of the station’s unique features is Sky Street, a huge airy concourse that spans both towers on the 15th floor. It looks out on a dramatic vista of Nagoya through a massive bank of plate-glass picture windows. This panoramic cityscape, which is constantly photographed by visitors, can be freely accessed by anyone from a row of elevators just inside the left-front entrance to the station.

Department stores ply their wares on 13 floors, and the biggest, Takashimaya, had a turnover of ¥110.3 billion last year. Below that are two underground sales levels offering great varieties of food and drink on sale and aromatic gusts of green tea wafting through them.

Aromas of a different sort permeate the third floor, a glittering array of mirrors, counters and stools attended by glamorous, elegantly coiffed female representatives of the world’s best-known cosmetic and perfume companies. Appreciative customers are pampered, dabbed and sprayed while their other halves lounge in a large area in the middle of the floor, set aside for sofas and easy chairs, waiting for the cosseting to finish.

On the 11th floor is the Sansei-Do bookshop, one of Nagoya’s biggest, which has an extensive English section. Seats by the windows overlooking a big metal spiral sculpture on a roundabout in front of the station can be used for a thorough perusal of any book before deciding whether to buy it or not.

Eating options in the Twin Towers offer more choices than those of a small town. The food of Nagoya is delicious and distinctive. Special to the city are dishes such as tebasaki (fried spicy chicken wing) and miso nikomi udon (very chewy noodles with red miso). Most eel dishes around Japan serve just a couple of slices of the fish, but the Nagoya version, unagi hitsumabushi, features lots of finely chopped cuts of on rice — and there are three versions, which usually impress diners trying them for the first time.

Meanwhile, ethnic eating alternatives include Chinese, Korean, Indian, French and Italian styles among the many restaurants that occupy 8,400 sq. meters of the station complex. Underneath the main concourse is a dark, atmospheric warren of eateries and stalls named Ramendori (Noodle Street). This underground alley specializes in noodle dishes from all over Japan. Cooks and waiters in head bands and aprons, shrouded in steam, ladel noodles, yell orders, chop ingredients and hustle customers.

Like any great station, Nagoya’s has a constant stream of traffic in and around it, with cars dropping off passengers, trucks delivering and unloading their wares, buses disgorging and collecting tour groups. To cope with the volume of vehicles, the station has two parking areas that can hold a total of 1,500 cars. Two hundred of these can fit into the hotel car park.

But JR Nagoya Station is not all concrete, asphalt and glass. There is a large enclosed area on the front-left approach to the main entrance called the Towers Garden. This has plants and flowers, a large swath of decking and tiers of very long, curving benches. It is open to anyone, whether using the station or not, and it’s a popular place, particularly in the summer, to relax, sealed off from the traffic, and to perhaps partake of a packed lunch, tote along a drink or meet friends.

Another rendezvous spot which everyone in Nagoya knows about is the Golden Clock in the middle of the main floor of the station. Ringed by a bed of brightly hued flowers, the magnificent timepiece is ornate, rests on a lamp-post-size stand and is surrounded by people at all hours waiting to meet friends, relatives or business colleagues off trains.

Its counterpart on the other side of the station, where shinkansen bullet trains stop from Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo and beyond, is the Silver Clock. On the floor around it, you’ll often find big groups of school children on trips from other parts of the country.

The two sides of the station are very different in character. Across from the main entrance, Sakuradori (Cherry Blossom Street) plunges down into the city’s main business district. Opposite the shinkansen side of the tracks, though, it’s all rather more seedy, with garish blinking neon signs fronting love hotels, nightclubs, massage joints and hostess bars.

Those who run these dodgy locales can sometimes be spotted outside that side of the station, usually getting into or out of big black cars with dark windows. Their bullet heads, sharp suits and sheer attitude mark them as certain demi-monde as clearly as if they were shirtless and showing off whole-body tattoos.

Fortunately, though, refreshingly living flora is on display an escalator ride one floor above the Golden Clock. This connects the station with Nagoya’s bus terminal and also has a large outside terrace. This is another spot where people stroll around in warm weather and meet friends.

JR Nagoya Station, a world-beater certified by Guinness, is almost a self-contained town within a city of some 2.25 million folk. Although it does not make any list of the most renowned tourist sites of Japan, it is spectacular, beautiful, has something for everyone — and is worth much more time for exploration than a brief walk across the concourse to buy a ticket and catch a train.





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Old March 19th, 2014, 08:51 PM   #6883
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Cerberus leads investors selling Seibu stock in $1.8 billion IPO
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-0...llion-ip0.html

Quote:
Seibu Holdings Inc. is targeting a price of 2,300 yen a share for an initial public offering by investors including Cerberus Capital Management LP, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The investors plan to sell as many as 80.9 million shares in the rail and hotel operator, the Tokorozawa, Japan-based company said in a filing to the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday. That would value the deal at 186 billion yen ($1.8 billion). The people familiar asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to reveal the price target.

The transaction would be the largest initial share sale in the country this year after the $3.1 billion deal by Japan Display Inc., which plummeted 15 percent yesterday in its Tokyo trading debut. Cerberus, the New York-based fund overseeing more than $20 billion in investments, is reducing its 35.5 percent stake after failing to get its candidates named to Seibu’s board last year.

A spokesman in Cerberus’s Tokyo office said he wasn’t authorized to comment on the transaction.

Cerberus will sell as many as 53 million shares, Seibu said yesterday. The transaction represents 15.5 percent of Seibu’s outstanding shares, leaving the fund’s holding at about 20 percent.

Citigroup Capital Partners Japan will sell 10 million shares, UBS Securities 6.73 million, Norinchukin Bank 5.95 million and Development Bank of Japan Inc. 5.13 million in Japan and overseas markets, according to stock exchange and finance ministry filings. The shares will be listed on April 23, Seibu said.

Board Battle
Cerberus had increased its stake after seeking a revamp that was rebuffed by Seibu President Takashi Goto. He vowed the hotel and rail operator would make no concessions to Cerberus, which eventually accumulated a 35.5 percent stake after helping bail the company out in 2006.

As part of plan to boost profit at the hotel and rail operator before starting an IPO, Cerberus had recommended Dan Quayle, a former U.S. vice president, John Snow, a former U.S. Treasury secretary, and six others for directorships. Shareholders instead elected the four directors proposed by Seibu in an annual meeting near Tokyo lasting a record four hours and 50 minutes.

Seibu was delisted from Tokyo’s stock exchange in 2004 for breaking exchange rules by misstating ownership stakes.
More info on the Seibu IPO, which appears to be on its way to finally happening.
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Old March 19th, 2014, 08:52 PM   #6884
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Tōkyō Monorail to strengthen participation in overseas monorail projects
東京モノレール、モノレール事業の海外展開を強化

http://www.nikkan.co.jp/news/nkx1120140313ceah.html

With the demand for monorails increasing as large cities look for solutions to traffic congestion, Tōkyō Monorail will establish a special office to market its expertise to overseas clients and projects. The office will also be responsible for gathering information on future monorail prospects and hosting entourages from overseas.

Interest in straddle monorails like the Tōkyō Monorail is increasing due to the flexibility in route alignment, low construction costs, and quick construction schedule. More and more clients are also looking for assistance beyond just construction and infrastructure, and are requesting advice on operations and maintenance. The new office will allow Tōkyō Monorail to better position and prepare itself for overseas clients.

===

Tōkyō Monorail added more videos to their YouTube channel…

Documentary video, detailing construction to opening of the line:



CMs:



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Old March 20th, 2014, 07:41 AM   #6885
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Quote:
Seibu Railway considering extending Red Arrow service to Yokohama
If implemented, it will be interesting to see how they shimmy a limited express service into the Toyoko Line operating diagram (I reckon most runs will be off-peak). I wonder if they will retrofit the existing Red Arrow trainsets with new cab ends with the required doors and stairs (for running in the underground sections), or build new trainsets.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 07:44 AM   #6886
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The new Swallow Akagi, a reserved-seat service for the Takasaki Line operated with 651 series and 185 series trains, debuted with the timetable changes on 2014.03.15. Scenes at Ueno and Shinjuku on the first day of service (2014.03.17). This is a modified limited express similar to a Homeliner service designed to capture commuter demand—i.e., passengers that actually want a guaranteed seat on the train ride back home instead of potentially having to sweat it out standing on the regular commuter EMUs on the Shōnan–Shinjuku Line or Takasaki Line.

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Old March 20th, 2014, 09:02 AM   #6887
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Yeah, will be interesting to see how they implement an extension of the service to Yokohama. In the past, it might have been considered silly to run reserved-seat limited expresses on the subway, but I think the Odakyū Romancecar services on the Chiyoda Line may have established a (successful) precedent. Perhaps this may be a new trend, similar to the move to more and more complex interlining patterns (Shōnan‒Shinjuku Line, Hanzōmon Line, Fukutoshin Line, etc.). The increased interest in more traditional seated "commuter" services like you typically see outside of Japan (the new Swallow Akagi is one example) could be considered another facet of this trend.

I suspect Seibu will go with new trains... Hopefully, they'll be as nice as the Odakyū 60000 series MSE sets.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 10:19 AM   #6888
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Another factor (more of a precedent buster than a perhaps a real problem), is the fact that Tokyu doesn't run extra fare trains on its tracks. They will have to agree on some kind of ltd. express tariff structure and revenue sharing arrangement for the Toyoko Line portion of the route. I suppose Tokyo Metro's experience will be key.
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Old March 21st, 2014, 08:43 PM   #6889
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Question:
When using the train service from Nagoya Chubu Centrair Airport to the city center of Nagoya, do you have to change or transfer trains (at either Tokoname and/or Jingu-mae)? Or is it just one ride all the way until you reach your final destination?
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Old March 21st, 2014, 09:11 PM   #6890
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For the most part, no transfer is needed... Most services go at least as far as Nagoya, and of the ones that go as far as Nagoya, most go beyond to other destinations on the Meitetsu network like Meitetsu Gifu, Inuyama, Shin-Unuma, etc. However, there are a handful of trains, almost all of them local services, that terminate "early" at Kanayama or Ōtagawa, so you would need to transfer in those cases:
http://www.meitetsu.co.jp/ekibetsu/t.../tt201211.html

As long as you take any other train except a local (μ-Sky, limited express, express, semi-express), you can pretty much not worry about it, as those will all go to Nagoya.
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Old March 21st, 2014, 09:25 PM   #6891
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quashlo View Post
For the most part, no transfer is needed... Most services go at least as far as Nagoya, and of the ones that go as far as Nagoya, most go beyond to other destinations on the Meitetsu network like Meitetsu Gifu, Inuyama, Shin-Unuma, etc. However, there are a handful of trains, almost all of them local services, that terminate "early" at Kanayama or Ōtagawa, so you would need to transfer in those cases:
http://www.meitetsu.co.jp/ekibetsu/t.../tt201211.html

As long as you take any other train except a local (μ-Sky, limited express, express, semi-express), you can pretty much not worry about it, as those will all go to Nagoya.
Ah I see.

In any case, I would obviously choose the fastest μ-Sky train so that shouldn't be much of a problem............I guess (?)

Anyways, how will I know if a transfer/change is needed? Will there be audio announcements? Video diagrams? Or do I have to look at station signage????
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Old March 21st, 2014, 10:39 PM   #6892
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The announcements are also programmed in English:

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Old March 22nd, 2014, 12:31 AM   #6893
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^
Ah I see.

Anyways:
I just found out that Meitetsu (the railway company) has an English language website

http://www.meitetsu.co.jp/eng/

So yeah, it looks like all the info is there:
-4 train stations involved (Central Japan International Airport <-> Jingu-Mae <-> Kanayama <-> Meitetsu Nagoya)
-All μ-Sky Limited Express Trains are First Class Seats only (so 850 Yen + 350 Yen which serves as the cost of the first class train fare)
-Both tickets can also be purchased using 'manaca' tap cards.
-Marriott Hotel is just less than five minutes walking distance from the train station area at Nagoya Station =)



I guess that's all I need to know then.

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Old March 23rd, 2014, 05:25 PM   #6894
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One year after the Tokyu Toyoko line joining up with the Fukutoshin there is not much left of the former station building .
The demolition is proceeding methodically. This is a view from the JR station walkway above the Yamanote line, looking at what used to be the platforms of the old station.



a larger selection of some recent views of the site

https://plus.google.com/photos/11170...79652598185329
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Old March 26th, 2014, 07:14 AM   #6895
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Foreign language signage on railways spreading, but station staff still an issue
加速する鉄道の外国語表記 五輪へ課題 駅員対応は低速

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ec...302000115.html

Many railways, with the exception of JR Central, are expanding their efforts to introduce non-English foreign language signage at railway stations and inside trains, prioritizing lines with heavier demand among tourists visiting from overseas. However, little progress has been made on the use of English in announcements by station staff, such as inside trains during emergency situations. With the upcoming influx in foreigners as part of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tōkyō, the time may be coming for railway companies to determine the best strategy to serve these passengers.

In a survey of the three main JR companies and seven major private railways in Tōkyō, all ten of the railways—with the exception of JR Central—are advancing efforts to introduce foreign languages other than English into signage inside stations marking station exits, restrooms, and other facilities. Seven of the railways have introduced Chinese and Korean into station name signage installed on platforms. Keikyū Corporation (京浜急行電鉄), which accelerated its foreign language signage program as part of the conversion of Haneda Airport into a hub for international flights, has also programmed passenger information displays inside trains with Chinese and Korean.

Railway spokespersons for Seibu Railway and Tōbu Railway say that many visitors are coming from other parts of Asia, and that they plan to expand their foreign language signage programs in light of the Olympic Games. However, the fact remains that next to no progress has been made on foreign language needs among station staff. While some railway companies have established information counters to serve foreigners, these are only open for limited hours each day and are only located in specific places. Verbal announcements by station staff are primarily in Japanese only, and no English announcements are provided.

Some foreigners are anxious about what might happen in the event of emergency situations like train–passenger collisions and earthquakes, as well as other service disruptions.



===

I doubt there’s many railways in countries where English is not the primary language that offer verbal (not programmed) announcements in languages other than the primary language… So to some extent, I think this is just setting the bar too high. In the event of service disruptions or emergency situations, perhaps a more realistic solution would be to design the in-train displays with foreign language programming for specific scenarios.
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Old March 26th, 2014, 07:15 AM   #6896
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The last JNR 101 series in service, serving a second life on Saitama Prefecture’s Chichibu Railway in the outskirts of Tōkyō, was retired from regular revenue service after a last run on 2014.03.23. The 103 series was the workhorse of the JNR’s metropolitan commuter services in Greater Tōkyō and Greater Ōsaka during the post-war period. The last train was a formation of three cars painted in the orange of the Chūō Line in Tōkyō.

Video of commemorative charter service and photo op:

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Old March 26th, 2014, 07:16 AM   #6897
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Fujikyū to introduce Suica in spring 2015
富士急、2015年春からSuica導入

http://response.jp/article/2014/03/23/219657.html

Fujikyū Corporation (富士急行) recently announced that it will introduce JR East’s IC card system, Suica, to its stations starting in spring 2015, making it possible to reach stations on the Fuji Express Line (富士急行線) from all of JR’s stations in the Greater Tōkyō area.

After introduction of the new system, passengers will be able to use Suica cards or cards from other systems with interoperability agreements with Suica on Fujikyū’s 18-station network. The railway will not issue its own Suica cards, but will make it possible for passengers to add value to their cards at some select stations, most likely staffed stations.

PASMO, the IC card system used by Tōkyō Metro, Toei Subway, and most of Tōkyō’s private railways, is already in use on most of the Fujikyū Group’s bus network, operating along the Fuji Express Line and in the Mt. Fuji area.



===

A bit surprising that they went with Suica and not PASMO… Perhaps has something to do with the fact that the rail connection to the Fuji Express Line is via a JR line, the Chūō Line. I have heard that JR East gets some share of the revenue from new farecard implementations of the FeliCa system, as they were heavily involved with Sony in the R&D and trial testing of the original system, even if it’s not branded as “Suica” (e.g., PASMO, etc.).

New CM celebrating the 10th anniversary of Suica e-money functionality:

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Old March 26th, 2014, 07:17 AM   #6898
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Grade-separation of Seibu Ikebukuro Line outbound track cuts travel time by 40%
西武池袋線、下り線高架化で踏切遮断時間が約4割減

http://response.jp/article/2014/03/24/219727.html

On 2014.03.24, the Tōkyō Bureau of Construction (東京都建設局) and Seibu Railway (西武鉄道) announced that grade-separation (elevation) of the outbound track of the Seibu Ikebukuro Line between Shakujii Kōen (石神井公園) and Ōizumi Gakuen (大泉学園), part of the continuous grade-separation of the line between Nerima Takanodai (練馬高野台) and Ōizumi Gakuen, had reduced crossing down times by about 40%.

The Tōkyō Metropolitan Government is lead on the project, an urban planning effort that combines grade-separation (elevation) of 2.4 km of the rail line, eliminating 9 grade crossings, with road improvements for the surrounding neighborhoods. Phase 1 of the project involving 1.2 km of the line between Nerima Takanodai and Shakujii Kōen is also combined with a quadruple-track project. The total project cost is approx. ¥47.4 billion, with the national government, TMG, and Nerima Ward funding about ¥28.5 billion and Seibu Railway about ¥18.9 billion.

Phase 1, involving both elevation, quadruple-tracking, and the elimination of 6 grade crossings, was completed in November 2012, and work is now proceeding on the 1.2 km Phase 2 segment from Shakujii Kōen to Ōizumi Gakuen. On 2013.11.24, the first major milestone was reached with the switchout to a new elevated outbound track.

According to the Bureau of Construction and Seibu Railway, the cumulative crossing down times at the three crossings in questions in Phase 2 was about 10.5 hours a day, but that decreased by about 40% to 6.6 hours a day in January 2014 after completion of the elevated outbound track. While the crossings still remain to serve the inbound track, the down time has decreased substantially due to a reduction in the amount of train traffic using the crossings.

In addition, traffic queues along Prefectural Route 444 (都道444号), more commonly known as the Shimo-Shakujii–Ōizumi Route (下石神井大泉線) as a result of crossing down time reached 220 m before elevation of the outbound track, but that has now been reduced to 130 m, a similar reduction of about 40%. Average automobile speeds in the corridor increased by about 60% from 10.2 km/h during the evening rush hour (16:00 to 18:00) to 15.9 km/h.

The remainder of the project, including elevation of the inbound track, is scheduled for completion before FY2014 close.





===

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

Seibu trains make an appearance on a CM for Lion Corporation:

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Old March 26th, 2014, 07:18 AM   #6899
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Tōkyō Metro installed new experimental large-screen touch-panel displays at several stations that went into service on 2014.03.17. The displays were installed at platform level at the Ginza Line’s Ueno Station and the Fukutoshin Line’s Shinjuku Sanchōme Station and near the faregates at the Ginza Line’s Asakusa Station and Ueno Station and the Marunouchi Line’s Shinjuku Station.
http://response.jp/article/2014/03/23/219656.html

This is part of their “digital signage” (dynamic wayfinding + advertisement) program, and the displays are programmed for five languages (Japanese, English, Simplified and Traditioinal Chinese, and Korean). Platform-level displays provide information on walking routes to transfer to other lines or reach station exits and station amenities and facilities, as well as train arrivals and departures within a ten-minute range. Passengers can also look up train fares as well as map their itinerary via Google Maps. Passsengers can zoom in and out of route and station area maps out by making pinching movements similar to traditional smartphones. Displays near faregates are programmed with information on the neighborhoods surrounding the station and tourist information.





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Old March 26th, 2014, 03:44 PM   #6900
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quashlo View Post
JR East reveals plan for improvements at Ochanomizu Station
http://www.jreast.co.jp/press/2009/20100322.pdf

I think that the bridge between platforms in the Kanda/Akihabara end will be demolished because the improvements right? According http://umemado.blogspot.com.au/2014/...g-post_13.html this is true.

February 2014





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