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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:21 PM   #841
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Nishitetsu to open new Murasaki Station on March 27
http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/149206

Quote:
On January 28, Nishi-Nippon Railroad (Nishitetsu; HQ: Fukuoka City) announced that it will open the new Murasaki Station being constructed on the Tenjin–Ōmuta Line in Murasaki 2-chōme, Chikushino City, on March 27. This is the first new station on the line in 18 years.

Only local trains will stop at Murasaki Station. A total of 204 trains (weekdays) will stop at the station daily, and the railway is projecting average daily entries and exits of approx. 6,600.

The regular fare to Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station will be ¥330. Monthly adult commuter passes will be priced at ¥13,480, while monthly student commuter passes will be priced at ¥4,770.

Source: Nishitetsu

Cab view of an express train on the Tenjin–Ōmuta Line, between Nitshitetsu Futsukaichi and Asakura-gaidō (2009.06). Around 1:30, you can see the construction for the new station.


Source: hitatosu on YouTube
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:22 PM   #842
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Renovated Kagoshima Chūō Station to open February 18
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/kag...OYT8T01348.htm

Quote:
In anticipation of the spring 2011 opening of the full route of the Kyūshū Shinkansen, shopping center Friesta Kagoshima inside the Kagoshima Chūō Station Building in Kagoshima City announced that it will unveil its renovated facilities on February 18. Home electronics retailer Bic Camera has also agreed to open its third directly-managed store in Kyūshū after Fukuoka City inside the center.

The renovation project was intended to capture the increase in ridership at the station and began in November 2008. The central passage at the station was widened from 8.6 m to 13 m, and the gross floor area of the structure was increased from 8,400 sq m to 13,000 sq m. The exterior wall at the station’s east exit will be repainted from the current red to black, a color which is becoming a symbol of Kagoshima thanks to black pigs and kurozu (black vinegar).

Inside Friesta Kagoshima, which is located adjacent to the station’s faregates and stretches across 7,300 sq m of retail space, Bic Camera will open a Kagoshima Chūō Station store as its first in Kagoshima Prefecture. The floor area of the new store is approx. 5,500 sq m and will feature home electronics such as cameras and personal computers, as well as toys and bicycles. Representatives from Bic Camera (HQ: Tōkyō) say, “The store will be extremely convenient, since it’s directly connected to the station’s central passage and customers can visit without worrying about the rain.”

In addition, the number of gift shops and restaurants inside Friesta is scheduled to increase from the current 26 stores to 43.

A spokesperson for JR Kyūshū’s Business Development Department says, “With the expansion, the center’s shop composition will also be expanded, hopefully leading to more activity and the development of the surrounding area.”
Kagoshima Chūō Station is the central station of Kagoshima City and is served by several lines, including the Kyūshū Shinkansen, JR Kagoshima Main Line, JR Nippō Main Line, JR Ibusuki–Makurazaki Line, the Hisatsu Orange Railway, and two tram lines operated by the Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau.

Renderings:
Source: JR Kyūshū

First-floor concourse. Bic Camera is on the left.



More of the concourse, looking towards Miyage Yokochō, which will house most of the gift shops. As the station is also on the Shinkansen network, the gift shops are targeted at visitors.



Gourmet Yokochō, the restaurant section.



The passage connecting the station with the JR Kyūshū Hotel Kagoshima.



New East Exit of the station.

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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:23 PM   #843
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Master plan for Okinawa hints at new north-south rail line (editorial)
http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-...ytopic-11.html

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The governor’s advisory council, the Prefectural Development Committee, has finalized its report on the Okinawa 21st Century Vision long-term plan that presents a future vision for Okinawa in 2030. The plan includes the return and reuse of large amounts of U.S. military base land and introduction of a rail line traversing north-south across the main island.

The plan clearly identifies Okinawans’ vision of the future of the prefecture as “large-scale return of U.S. military base land and the resolution of the base problem. By actively reusing former base land, we will live in peace and abundance.” The plan’s clear vision of Okinawa’s future deserves some praise.

Even now, 65 years after World War II, a little over 10 percent of the prefectural land area and and close to 20 percent of Okinawa Island is occupied by U.S. military bases. If these lands are returned and we can actively reuse them as resorts and other uses, and Okinawa will certainly be reborn as an “Island of Dreams.”

Okinawa’s geographic location makes it a gateway to the rest of Asia, with a warm subtropical climate, beautiful ocean, and rich natural environment. It has a unique status in Japan, wth a history and cultural traditions that separate it from the main islands, and a welcoming hospitality.

We can say that the basic principle of the 21st Century Vision report—of a “beautiful, peaceful, and rich Okinawa at the leading front of the times and connected to the rest of the world, where everyone works together”—draws from the views of many Okinawans.

Meanwhile, according to prefectural documents, base-generated revenues, including land fees for military use and the income of military employees, reached ¥21.55 billion in 2006, 5.4 percent of Okinawans’ total income. In order to realize the vision, decontamination of base reuse land, compensation to landowners until the land is usable again, and reemployment strategies for base employees are critical, and must be implemented on a comprehensive level through the national government.

We must find a vision for development of Okinawa without reliance on the U.S. military bases. Okinawa’s leader must not be someone who leaves things to other people or to fate, but rather someone who confronts the national government head-to-head and a trailblazer. I look forward to the development of a solid action plan to realize the goals of the vision.

The report stresses the need for this vision to be transmitted to the next generation, without damage to our world-famous natural environment. And construction of new environmentally-destructive military bases is out of the question. I only hope that Governor Nakaima Hirokazu takes this vision to heart.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:24 PM   #844
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Hiroshima City aims for new interchange station on Astram Line and JR San’yō Line
http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Sp201002040090.html

Quote:
On February 3, it was revealed that Hiroshima City has finalized an objective to establish a new Hakushima New Station (temporary name) (Nishi-Hakushimachō, Naka Ward) to serve as an interchange between the JR San’yō Line and the Astram Line. The city will proceed with detailed design in FY2010 and begin construction of the station in FY2011. Completion is targeted for three years after the start of construction.

In order to increase ridership on the Astram Line, a transfer station with the JR San’yō Line in the city’s central area has been a critical concern. According to the plan, a new JR station would be constructed on the San’yō Line between Hiroshima and Yokogawa Stations, where it intersects with the Astram Line. Approx. 120 m south, a new half-underground station on the Astram Line would be constructed and tied into the new JR station by a connecting passage. After looking at opportunities for funding assistance from the national government, the city has decided to get the project moving.

At a session of the City Council’s Construction Committee last July, the city said that the cost of constructing the two station buildings and connecting passage is approx. ¥4.5 billion. It’s believed that the city, JR West, and Astram Line third-sector operator Hiroshima Rapid Transit (HRT) have agreed to a general outline of the funding arrangement.

In the detailed design to be carried out in FY2010, the city will be responsible for station area infrastructure, including the connecting passage and bicycle parking, while JR and HRT are expected to each take on design of their buildings and related facilities. The city is making final adjustments to its proposed budget for FY2010 to incorporate approx. ¥200 million in project-related expenses, including funding towards the two railway operators.

The city has estimated that a journey from JR Hiroshima Station to Kamiyachō via a transfer to the Astram Line at the new Hakushima New Station would take approx. 8 min, a reduction of approx. 6 min compared to using the streetcars.

Astram Line
Opened in August 1994 by Hiroshima Rapid Transit, a third-sector company financed by Hiroshima City. The line stretches 18.4 km from Hon-dōri (Naka Ward) to Kōiki Kōen-mae (Asa Minami Ward), serving 21 stations. Average daily ridership in FY2008 was 51,189 and has been increasing for four years straight. In 1999, the city announced plans for three extensions, including a 6.2 km “Seifū Shinto Line” extension from Kōiki Kōen-mae to JR Nishi-Hiroshima Station (Nishi Ward), but the plans stalled as a result of financial difficulties. The city has been considering short-term solutions to connect the line to the JR San’yō Line.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:25 PM   #845
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JR says city funding necessary to change spelling of Shijōnawate
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/trend/...1407010-n2.htm

Quote:
Shijōnawate City in Ōsaka Prefecture has been calling for the switch from jōyō kanji (officially-recognized commonly-used Chinese characters) to kyūjitai (unsimplified, old-form Chinese characters) when spelling the city’s name, but among public institutions and public transportation agencies, JR is virtually the last to continue using the simplified jōyō kanji form. Representatives from JR West say changing the station name would cost several hundred million yen, and that they will change it only if the city is willing to foot the bill, but the financially-troubled city says that would be impossible. The city’s project manager says they have little option but to petition JR West.

The Battle of Shijōnawate
The character in “Shijōnawate” exists in both simplified jōyō kanji and unsimplified kyūjitai form. The city is famous as being the scene of the Battle of Shijōnawate (written using the unsimplified character), when Kusunoki Masatsura, son of Nanbokuchō Period general Kusunoki Masashige, committed suicide, and city facilities have consistently used the unsimplified form of as a traditional placename inherited from the past. However, police stations, prefectural high schools, health care centers, National Route road signs, and JR station names have all historically used the simplified form of .

As a result, the city has requested that others spell the city’s name using the unsimplified form of , starting first with the Ōsaka Prefectural Government in 2003, and followed in 2004 by JR West, bus companies, National Route offices inside Ōsaka Prefecture and in surrounding Kyōto and Nara Prefectures, and Ōsaka newspapers. The Prefectural Government responded by enacting an ordinance in 2004 that changed the spelling of the city’s name back to unsimplified form. Currently, most Shijōnawate police stations and health care centers have changed to use the unsimplified form.

Shijōnawate Station on the JR Katamachi Line, serving as the city’s main terminal and gateway, however, still uses the simplified form of the character. According to the city’s General Affairs Department, “As far as we know, the only public institution or public transportation operator still using the simplified form of the character is JR.” As a result, at bus stops served by Keihan Bus, City Hall is spelled using the unsimplified form, but the train station is spelled using the simplified form.

City must bear full costs
According to JR’s Public Relations Department, the railway will change station names based on requests by local jurisdictions, but fundamentally, the full costs are borne by the jurisdiction. The expenses, which cover not only changes to the signs at the station itself, but also changes to the fare charts and schedules provided at each station, as well as modifications to the computer-managed ticket purchasing system, are expected to reach several hundred million yen. As a result, JR West says it is willing to consider the change if the city pays for the costs, but that making the change on its own would be difficult.

City officials say that the city has never footed the bill for name changes outside of JR. Morikawa Kazufumi, Chief of the city’s General Affairs Department, could not hide his anxiety, saying, “We’re only returning it to the original name. It’s impossible for us to provide several hundred million.” At the current stage, it appears that a change to the station name won’t happen anytime soon.
There are various similar examples of character-related issues in the spelling of other station names. Because some place names such as station names may be outside the established set of jōyō kanji, these are written using hiragana instead (e.g., Kachidoki on the Toei Ōedo Line). There are also some station names that have been similarly switched from simplified to unsimplified character forms (e.g., Kōroen on the Hanshin Main Line).
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:26 PM   #846
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Two candidate locations for new JR Kōbe Line station in Akashi City
http://mytown.asahi.com/hyogo/news.p...00001002040004

Quote:
On February 3, Akashi City finalized plans to devote ¥7 million in its FY2010 proposed budget for research and study expenses to evaluate establishment of a new station on the JR Kōbe Line. Since 2006, the city has been working with JR West towards a new station, but the debate stalled when the City Council expressed opposition. Top leaders in city government have not given hope, however, and said, “A station has huge benefits to neighborhoods. We look forward to hearing from the public and working towards a resolution in FY2010.”

The two candidate areas for the new station are between Akashi and Nishi-Akashi Station (3.4 km) near National Route 175 and between Ōkubo and Uozumi Stations (3.5 km) in open fields.

According to the city, JR representatives approached city officials in fall 2006 about constructing a new station between Akashi and Nishi-Akashi. Of the approx. ¥4 billion total project cost, JR would contribute one-third while another third would be covered by funding from the national government, keeping the city’s share of the financial burden down to around ¥1.3 billion.

The funding arrangement was more advantageous than in situations where a local government asks a railway operator to establish a new station. The project would also help bring vitality to the surrounding neighborhoods, as people from Kōbe City’s Nishi Ward, which currently doesn’t have a JR station, could use National Route 175 to access the station. As a result, Mayor Kitaguchi Hiroto publicly announced plans for the new station in a January 2007 press release titled, “A New Station for Akashi.”

However, the city councilmembers rose in opposition, saying the plan had been carried out without following proper procedures in getting it through the Council. Some representatives from the the Chamber of Commerce and Industry also criticized the plan, saying it would divide the flow of people and hurt the vitality of the city’s central areas. In the April 2007 mayoral elections, one candidate even ran his campaign on the promise of shelving the plans for the new station. As a result, the plan was forced to take a back seat.

In December of last year, however, JR representatives again approached city officials to discuss establishing a new station on the line. City officials were also confident that a new station would have a big impact on the city’s development, and decided to reconsider the plans.

As city councilmembers and members of the public have commented that the Ōkubo section of the line is more desirable than the Akashi section near the city’s central districts because of open land for development, the city has selected two candidate locations to be studied.

The ¥7 million included in the city’s proposed budget will be used for establishing a working group composed of experts and conducting surveys of city residents, after which the city will decide whether or not to build a new station, and if so, which of the candidate locations is the preferred option.

Top city officials said, “If we conclude to build the station, we believe we can complete it by FY2015.”
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:27 PM   #847
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Kōbe Municipal Subway Kaigan Line in the red again
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/n...001310009.html

Quote:
The Kōbe Municipal Subway Kaigan Line (7.9 km) is expected to post an operating deficit of approx. ¥6 billion for FY2010. This marks the tenth straight year of operating at a deficit since the opening of the line, with the accumulated deficit estimated to reach approx. ¥77 billion.

The Kaigan Line runs along the coastline of Kōbe City, connecting Sannomiya – Hanadokei-mae Station near JR Sannomiya Station to Shin-Nagata Station in Nagata Ward.

The line opened in 2001 after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake at the total project cost of ¥235 billion. The line was heralded as a “catalyst” for accelerating the city’s recovery from the earthquake, with an estimated average daily ridership demand of approx. 140,000 passengers at the time. However, average daily ridership in the first year was only 34,446, increasing to 41,660 in FY2008—30 percent of the original estimates. The city is expecting approx. 45,000 daily passengers for FY2010, posting a deficit.

In its 2007 post-project evaluation report, the city identified the primary factors for struggling ridership as a population drop due to the earthquake and the delay in benefits from stimulus projects after the earthquake, including the redevelopment of the south area at Shin-Nagata Station.

In addition to the Kaigan Line, the Kōbe Municipal Subway also operates the Seishin – Yamate Line (22.7 km), which opened in 1977. The city is expecting a total accumulated deficit for FY2010 of approx. ¥123 billion for all subway operations.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:27 PM   #848
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Ōsaka Governor: Combined prefecture-city would facilitate Naniwasuji Line
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update...001120142.html

Quote:
At a January 12 press conference, Ōsaka Prefecture Governor Hashimoto Tōru remarked that Ōsaka Prefecture and Ōsaka City “should be consolidated, and there should only be one ‘purse,’” hinting at his goals to reevaluate the administrative relationship between the prefecture and the city. Up until now, the Governor has called for coordination between the prefectural and municipal governments, but has since changed his mind, calling out the need to reevaluate the relationship: “Today’s Ōsaka has no competitiveness. The scope of the prefecture and the city is split.”

The Governor has stressed his own opinion that Ōsaka needs both a “wide-region administrative body” to be successful against other cities in Asia, and “basic local governments” that administer public services such as welfare and education. The Governor has offered up possible examples, including an “Ōsaka Metropolis” proposal that would consolidate the prefecture and city and defines special wards in the central areas of the city similar to the Tōkyō Metropolis, and a “Super Ōsaka City” that would expand Ōsaka City outwards to include Sakai City and other cities. Governor Hashimoto says he plans on looking into the possibilities in more detail soon.

Citing the disagreement between the prefectural and municipal governments over the funding arrangement for the planned Naniwasuji Line to impove access to Kansai International Airport, the Governor couldn’t hide his frustration when trying to coordinate with the city. He also criticized the current administrative structure for wasting public investment. “I’d like to forget about the way things are now and build a new Ōsaka. I hope to discuss the issues with Mayor Hiramatsu and create a vision of Ōsaka as it should be.”
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:28 PM   #849
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Ōsaka Governor vows to prioritize Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Line extension if Itami closed
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/osa...OYT8T00049.htm

Quote:
On February 4 after a meeting in Toyono Town with the Toyono Town Council to exchange opinions regarding the closure of Ōsaka (Itami) International Airport, Ōsaka Prefecture Governor Hashimoto revealed to press reporters his intention to move the Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Line extension up in priority assuming Itami Airport is closed. The extension would improve access from the Hokusetsu region to Kansai International Airport (KIX).

“I felt that if we improved access to the Hokusetsu region, the public’s anxiety over the closure of Itami Airport would be eased,” remarked Governor Hashimoto as he looked back at the meeting with the Town Council. In regards to the extension of the Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Line, the Governor stressed, “It’s been on the table for a while now, but we’ll now coordinate it with the Kansai Airport issue.” The Governor expressed his intention to group the proposed Naniwasuji Line to KIX with the Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Line extension to Minoo City as one package, saying, “If we can all agree to close Itami, the extension will jump up the Prefectural Government’s budget priority list.”

The extension of the Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Line is targeted for a 2018 opening, and according to the proposed plan, of the ¥42 billion project construction cost, Ōsaka Prefecture and Minoo City would contribute ¥14.65 billion.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:29 PM   #850
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JR West opens positions for 1,000+ new hires in FY2011
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/n...002050013.html

Quote:
On February 4, JR West announced that it will be accepting approx. 1,140 new hires in FY2011. While 60 people less than for FY2010, the railway is continuing its streak of hiring over 1,000 employees every year since FY2006, after the JR Takarazuka Line (Fukuchiyama Line) accident in Amagasaki. Railway spokespersons cited the need to “take proactive steps in the succession of skills.”

The breakdown calls for approx. 870 fresh graduates, approx. 200 of which will be given regular positions and approx. 670 of which will be “professional hires” as conductors, track maintenance, and other tasks. Contract employees and experienced hires will reach approx. 280 people.

For FY2010, the railway has estimated 201 regular position employees, 746 professional hires, and 263 other employees, for a total of 1,210 new hires.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:30 PM   #851
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Wakayama Electric Railway’s Kishi Station building to be rebuilt
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/ne...OYT1T00235.htm

Quote:
The station building at Kishi Station (Kishikawachō Kōdo, Kinokawa City, Wakayama Prefecture) on the Wakayama Electric Railway Kishikawa Line, home to super stationmaster Tama, will be rebuilt into a new station building with a cypress bark roof.

While giving off a traditional atmosphere, the design of the new station building is playful, with windows designed to look like a cat. The railway is aiming to open the new building by summer.

Operation of the Kishikawa Line was transferred from Nankai Electric Railway to Wakayama Electric Railway in April 2006. The railway has garnered nationwide popularity thanks to a cat stationmaster known as Tama and special-themed trains such as the Ichigo Densha (Strawberry Train), pushing ridership to approx. 2.2 million annually, about 300,000 more than ridership four years ago.

The current building at Kishi Station was constructed in 1932, and the toilets are unisex without plumbing. After members of the Kishikawa Line Operations Committee composed of local residents drew attention to the need to improve the toilet facilities, talk of creating a place where tourists could relax arose, leading to the current proposal to replace the station building.

The defining feature of the new station building is the cypress bark roof. The railway will enlist craftsmen from Mt. Kōya to lay the cypress bark using traditional methods. At both ends, decorative pieces designed to look like cat’s ears will be attached, and two windows designed to look like cat’s eyes will be constructed. Looking at the station building straight on from a slight distance, the building looks like a cat’s face. As for the interior, an expansive three-story stationmaster room is planned to be constructed to resolve Tama’s lack of exercise, which has made her a little overweight recently. A gallery cafe will also be constructed. In addition, a “Strawberry Shrine,” “Toy Shrine,” and “Cat Shrine” will be constructed on the platforms to pray for safety.

The new station building was designed by Mitooka Eiji, a design consultant for Wakayama Electric Railway parent company Ryōbi Group who has designed the Kishikawa Line’s Ichigo Densha and Tama Densha (Tama Train), in addition to the Tsubame trains on the Kyūshū Shinkansen.

With the replacement of the station building, Stationmaster Tama will go on extended leave starting January 24 for about a month. The railway is also allowing passengers to write “farewell messages” on the walls of the station building until January 29. Ryōbi Group PR chief Yamaki Keiko says, “The new station features Japanese themes very visibly. I hope passengers will enjoy the space together with Tama.”

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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:30 PM   #852
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Shijō Kawaramachi Hankyū store to close in fall
http://www.asahi.com/special/08017/OSK201001280064.html

Quote:
On January 28, H2O Retailing, which counts Hankyū-Hanshin Department Stores as one of its group companies, announced that it will close the Shijō Kawaramachi Hankyū department store in Shimogyō Ward, Kyōto City in autumn 2010. After opening in 1976, the store has earned the favor of young women in Kyōto’s central shopping district, but with the decentralization of the store’s area reach as a result of an increase in retail facilities and continually declining sales from struggling consumer spending, the department store was forced to back out.

A sales slump has been dogging the department store industry as a result of reduced levels of consumer spending. On January 27, Seibu Department Stores announced it would close its Yūrakuchō store in Tōkyō in late December of this year, indicating that the department store business is no longer a given in premier urban districts.

The Shijō Kawaramachi Hankyū department store occupies approx. 9,000 sq m of sales floor area from Basement Level 1 to Level 6 of a building directly connected to Kawaramachi Station, the terminal of the Hankyū Kyōto Line. Of the eleven Hankyū department stores, the Shijō Kawaramachi store is third from the bottom in size, but sales reached a peak of ¥17.1 billion in the third quarter of 1992. That number has been decreasing year-on-year since then, however, with the third quarter of 2010 expected to drop below ¥5 billion in sales.The store has already been operating in the red since March 2005.

At a press conference inside Kyōto City, Hankyū-Hanshin Department Stores president Nitta Nobuaki remarked, “On top of an increasingly competitive environment, the store itself is quite small, making it difficult to implement drastic changes to increase revenue.” The building is owned by Sumitomo Realty & Development, but a use for the site once Hankyū has vacated the space has yet to be determined.

For Kyōto City, H2O Retailing also has assets in and a business partnership with Takashimaya’s Kyōto store (sales area: 62,000 sq m) and Daimaru’s Kyōto store (sales area: 50,000 sq m), both of which are located across the street (Shijō-dōri) from the Hankyū store. Both the Takashimaya and Daimaru stores are scheduled to be combined by autumn 2011.

The Hankyū store’s geographic reach decreased significantly when JR Kyōto Isetan opened in a building directly connected to JR Kyōto Station, approx. 2 km south, in 1997. As a result, the flow of shoppers has been split, and Hankyū’s sales dropped. Starting in 2000, the store has initiated renovation programs and worked to shore up its business, but was unsuccessful in improving performance.
ANN news report (2010.01.29):

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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:31 PM   #853
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Key Umeda Hankyū passage to be narrowed for construction work
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/n...001260014.html

Quote:
As part of the reconstruction work for Hankyū Department Stores’ Umeda flagship store (Kita Ward, Ōsaka City), a portion of the first-floor north-south interior corridor linking Hankyū Umeda Station to the Tanimachi Line’s Higashi-Umeda Station and Hanshin Umeda Station will be restricted to one-fourth of its current width starting January 27. Hankyū Corporation is expecting substantial congestion as a result of the construction, and is urging people to detour to the underground passage or surrounding surface streets.

According to Hankyū Corporation, approx. 20,000 people across both directions use the north-south interior corridor between 8:00 and 9:00 am. To reduce congestion, the railway will post directional signage for detour routes and deploy approx. 30 security staff in the surrounding area.
MBS news report (2010.01.27):



The department store work is part of the replacement of the Umeda Hankyū Building, Hankyū’s main tenant building at Umeda terminal. The exterior of the building is pretty much finished already, and the office section is set to open in April 2010. The bottom floors will house an expansion of the Hankyū Department Stores’ Umeda flagship store (approx. 40% more floor space).

Official page of the new building: http://www.umedahankyu-bldg.com/

Construction photos:


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

The main ground level entrance (2009.11.30).


Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/

The east entrance is almost finished (2010.01.25).


Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/

Some of the new station signage has been recently installed (2010.02.01).


Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/


Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:32 PM   #854
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Kansai private railways mark 100th anniversaries with ambition
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...1435015-n2.htm

Quote:
In the so-called “private railway paradise” that is the Kansai region, Hankyū Railway (Hankyū Corporation), Keihan Electric Railway, and Kinki Nippon Railroad (Kintetsu Corporation) will all celebrate their 100th anniversaries this year. While it should be a festive mood, railway revenues and railway group distribution businesses took a big hit as a result of the economic downturn and swine flu scare, forcing the three companies’ finances into a difficult position. Yet despite the situation, the railway companies are constructing landmark towers and luring tourists from the Asian mainland, attempting to bring back vitality along their rail networks with the same entrepreneurial spirit that founded their companies a century ago.

Learning from history
“With the start of another century for our company, the one thing we must not forget is entrepreneurial spirit,” says Keihan Electric Railway CEO Satō Shigeo.

The founding chairman of Keihan was none other than Shibusawa Eiichi (1840-1931), the so-called “founding father” of Japanese capitalism. When he proposed a privately-operated railway between Ōsaka and Kyōto along the east bank of the Yodo River, he was met by opposition from critics who feared that ridership would be cut in half with the already open government-operated railroad on the west bank of the river.

But Shibusawa, foreseeing a future increase in ridership demand in Ōsaka, succeeded in opening the line between Tenmabashi in Ōsaka and Gojō in Kyōto in April 1910.

And when financial difficulties dogged the railway during the early years of the Shōwa Era, Shibusawa found creative and ingenious ways to cut expenses. The railway would later develop its own technologies, including using batteries to accumulate electrical power during the evening periods for use in the morning rush hour. As CEO Satō stresses, “We will not be focusing only on our existing businesses, but also looking to delve into new ones.”

Venture spirit
Meanwhile, Hankyū Railway was founded by Kobayashi Ichizō (1873-1957), who developed the blueprints of the private railway business model, including the construction of department stores next to stations. Hoping to link Ōsaka with the resort towns of Minoo and Arima, Kobayashi launched operations of the Minoo – Arima Electric Railroad in March 1910. Kobayashi would later establish the Takarazuka Revue to create ridership demand along his line, expanding his business with a vigourous venture spirit.

In 2006, Hankyū entered a new era when it consolidated with Hanshin Electric Railway. Hankyū-Hanshin Holdings president Sumi Kazuo remarked on the railway’s ambitions: “If the North Yard and other parts of the Umeda plan start moving, our business territory will expand, as visitors will be able to stay at Shin-Hankyū Hotels and shop at Hankyū and Hanshin department stores. We will bring visitors from the rest of Asia to Ōsaka.”

The new Tsūtenkaku
Kinki Nippon Railroad (Kintetsu) was established in September 1910 as the Nara Railroad. After opening the line between Ōsaka Uehommachi and Nara Stations (approx. 30 km) in 1914, the railway went through various extensions and mergers until possessing the largest network of any private railway in Japan (508.1 km), a record it holds to this day.

In January of this year, Kintetsu broke ground on the replacement of the Abenobashi Terminal Building. An approx. 300 m mixed-use skyscraper, the tallest in Japan, will open in spring 2014, featuring hotel rooms, office space, a department store, and a museum. Kintetsu has solidified the building as the railway group’s landmark tower, and aims to develop what might be the equivalent of a new Tsūtenkaku. In addition, the railway will open a new station building in its homegrounds at Uehonmachi this summer, taking its first steps towards the next 100 years.
The Abenobashi / Tennōji area is undergoing redevelopment, of which Kintetsu’s new Abenobashi Terminal Building is only a part. The other major component is the Abeno redevelopment project, a 184,000 sq m GFA shopping center containing 200 stores, being developed by none other than Tōkyū Land Corporation, the land development arm of Tōkyū Group.

From the pedestrian bridge, looking towards the construction site for the shopping center.


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

The center is quickly taking shape. Construction began in January 2009 and is scheduled to finish in spring 2011.


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

The former Main Building of the Kintetsu Department Store at Abenobashi terminal has been demolished. In its place will rise the new Abenobashi Terminal Building (210,000 sq m GFA) designed by Cesar Pelli.


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

Just adjacent to the construction site is the single-track terminal for the Hankai Tramway.


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

Just opposite the construction site for the new terminal building is Hoop, a fashion mall developed by Kintetsu Corporation in 2000 and operated by Kintetsu Department Stores.


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

Station Plaza Tennōji, the tenant terminal building at JR Tennōji Station, has also received a facelift.


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

Compare to the old…


Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:33 PM   #855
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High school students present plans for JR Yokkaichi Station area
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/mie...OYT8T00097.htm

Quote:
In regards to the revitalization project for JR Yokkaichi Station and the surrounding area in Yokkaichi City, a special survey committee of the City Council held a session on January 8, where four senior-year students from Mie Prefectural Yokkaichi Commercial High School gave a presentation on their proposal to revitalize the area.

The five students, who selected “Yokkaichi City” as the theme of their senior-year research project, have been conducting studies since last April of residents and shopowners in the Honmachi-dōri Commercial Street outside the station, and assembled the results of their research.

The presentation reported on the current situation:
“The customer base consists of many regular customers in their 50s and 60s.”
“There is little desire by shopowners to renovate their shops.”
“The shops close at 7:00 pm, making them inconvenient for working people.”

In regards to future actions, the students suggested concentrating residences, public facilities, and retail shops in the city center and constructing a nursing home facility and library on the site of a former bank outside the station. City Council members remarked that they had never thought of constructing a nursing home facility outside the station, and were confident that the ideas of the younger generation would help revitalize the commercial street.

Student representative Hara Asami (18yo) said, “Even though we’re just high school students, they took the time to listen to our presentation carefully. I hope that even some of our plans can become reality.” City Council chairman Nakamori Shinji remarked, “These are some very refreshing ideas. I hope we can all work to develop our city.”
Kintetsu also has a Yokkaichi Station located about 2 km away and closer to the center of the city. JR Yokkaichi Station only sees 2,200 daily entries, but Kintetsu Yokkaichi sees 52,400 daily entries and exits. The JR station also handles a lot of freight trains (there is a freight terminal at the station).
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:34 PM   #856
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Keihan repainting program continues
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/travel/n...001120035.html

Quote:
Keihan Electric Railway, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in April, is continuing with its first fleet repainting in about 50 years as part of its image rebranding efforts.

After World War II, the railway used two different two-tone schemes: yellow and red, and bright green and blue-green. The limited express trains linking Ōsaka and Kyōto now feature a three-color livery of red, gold, and yellow reminiscent of jūnihitoe (twelve-layered kimono) and gold lacquer, while direct-service Nakanoshima Line trains feature a three-color scheme of navy blue, silver, and white emphasizing Ōsaka as a capital built on waterways. Regular trains are being repainted in a fresh scheme that combines Keihan’s traditional green with yellow and white. The repainting program will cover 710 of Keihan’s cars, virtually all of its fleet.

Meanwhile, spokespersons for Hankyū Corporation, whose trains feature a unique maroon livery, say they have no intention of changing the color scheme on their trains.
Old yellow / red livery on an 8000 (ex-3000) series limited express train:


Source: nikonikodoradora on YouTube

Old two-tone green livery on a 5000 series semi-express train:


Source: pikarail on YouTube
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:35 PM   #857
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Gifu City bus service in the red
http://chubu.yomiuri.co.jp/tokushu/k...to100128_1.htm

Quote:
“The bus is inconvenient, and it costs ¥540 just to get to the central district. And yet, if I use my car, there’s the cost of paid parking,” says one housewife (33yo) living in the Akutami District, ten and some-odd kilometers from the central district of Gifu City, as she reveals the difficulties of getting from her house to the areas around JR Gifu Station, Meitetsu Gifu Station, or the Yanagase District.

Instead, she often fulfills her shopping needs at a big suburban shopping center with a large parking facility. Even if she decides to take the bus to the train station for some reason, it’s still only another twenty minutes on the train to get to Nagoya City, so she rarely ever goes to the Yanagase District.

The operator of public transport within Gifu City is Gifu Bus. Currently, it’s network spans approx. 40 lines serving about 500 bus stops, with buses departing JR Gifu Station running from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. But with a decline in ridership, many of the runs are operating in the red.

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

Up until 2005, four streetcar lines served the city, all operated by Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu): the Ibi Line (Chūsetsu – Kurono, 12.7 km), the Gifu City Line (Gifu Station – Chūsetsu, 3.7 km), the Minomachi Line (Tetsumeichō – Seki, 18.8 km), and the Tagami Line (Keirinjō-mae – Tagami, 1.4 km).

City-operated buses and Meitetsu Bus were also in operation, but with the abandonment of the streetcar lines, they transferred their routes to Gifu Bus and ended their bus services in Gifu City. Both the abandonment of the streetcars and the transfer of bus operations were a result of operating deficits due to declining ridership.

“City-operated buses were posting an annual deficit of about ¥500 million, and we had hoped that operations would become more efficient by privatizing the lines,” remarked Furuichi Katsushi, the city’s Director-General of Comprehensive Transportation Policy. With the transfer of the bus lines, the city decided to provide operational funding assistance and asked Gifu Bus to maintain operations for at least three years into the future. While the lines still survive now, more than three years after, the city is still providing funding of approx. ¥80 million annually.

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

Meanwhile, the city has coordinated with local neighborhood councils to launch community bus service starting in 2006, part of a strategy to help the elderly, who cannot use cars.

Operations committees under the neighborhood councils independently determine routes based on local demand, and cover a portion of the operational costs on their own through securing ridership and offering corporate advertising. Ten community bus routes are in operation, but many of the committees are having trouble securing ridership.

Director-General Furuichi says, “If things continue like this, Gifu Bus will also be forced to reduce or eliminate some of its lines. This will make it difficult for the elderly and other passengers to get around, and undoubtedly accelerate the outflux of people from the city’s central district. We must do everything to preserve the bus lines we have now, but there is a limit to what we as government can do.”

What can be done in order to revitalize commercial streets and preserve convenient transport for the elderly? The new mayor-to-be will need to think about policies to encourage “compact” living.
Classic Meitetsu 510 series on the Gifu City Line (1990.12).


Source: y1ch on YouTube

Minomachi Line in the snow, on the outer ends of the line (1999.01.11). This section was abandoned earlier on April 1, 1999.


Source: AGUIMOVIE on YouTube

Tablet exchange on the Minomachi Line near Jinkōji (1999.01.24). This is on the section abandoned in 1999.


Source: AGUIMOVIE on YouTube
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:36 PM   #858
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Centram beats ridership expectations, but some shopowners skeptical
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/toy...OYT8T01362.htm

Quote:
Toyama City’s tram loop line Centram celebrated its one-month anniversary on January 23. The city spent approx. ¥3 billion introducing the line as the linchpin in revitalization of the city center, but some bitter-faced shopowners say they haven’t seen an increase in customers, hinting that the benefits of the line still have yet to be felt. Meanwhile, the efforts to increase residents in the central areas of the city are gradually spreading.

A low-floor articulated tram, easy to board and alight, winds its way from JR Toyama Station to the Toyama Prefectural Offices and Toyama Castle.

Office worker Sasaki Hiroshi (33yo), who lives in a suburb about two kilometers from city’s central area, says, “Normally I drive, so I’ve never had the chance to slowly explore the center of the city like this. I’ve seen views that I never realized existed before. There’s a lot of shops I’ve never heard of, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit them all on the Centram.”

Kamei Saburō (77yo), who relinquished his driver’s license and now lives along the Centram line, says, “It’s nice to have such a pleasant and relaxing ride. I hope they increase the number of tram lines to the way it used to be,” just one of many riders who are pleased with the new line.

In 2007, the national government certified the city’s “compact city” urban planning, aimed at developing a city where residents can live comfortably even without cars, as the first in the nation. The Centram is intended to serve as the means of transport to bring people to the center of the city, running along a 3.4 km loop composed of 2.5 km of existing municipal streetcar track in addition to sections of new track along Sōgawa-dōri and other streets.

One-sixth of the approx. 180 shops in the Sōgawa-dōri and Chūō-dōri Commercial Streets are empty. In 2006, the Toyama Seibu department store closed shop, and the hollowing out of the central district has since been continuing. Average daily ridership on the existing municipal streetcar network was approx. 10,000, but the Loop Line has increased that number by 20 percent, well above the 10 percent increase originally envisioned by city officials.

But Yamaguchi Michiko (49yo), owner of 80-year-old ramen shop Suehiroken outside the new Ōte Mall Station on the Centram, was critical, saying, “The only day we saw an increase in customers was opening day. The teen fashion stores and CD shops are all out in the suburbs, so people have no reason to come to the city. You can’t just build the tram line when there’s nobody here to ride it.”

Akiyoshi Katsuhiko (44yo), the sixth-generation owner of nearby well-established dry-goods store Akiyoshiya, couldn’t hide his dissatisfaction. He had made preparations to sell Centram-themed hand towels to commemorate the opening of the new line, but in November 2009 before the opening, the city, which owns the Centram trademark, ordered a stop. “I was just trying to increase my shop sales and help publicize the Centram launch… They say they’re trying to revitalize the city center, but they seem to have their priorities backwards.”

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

In the city’s funding assistance program that provides as much as ¥500,000 to residents who move into new residential units built along public transportation lines including the streetcar system, 66 residents filed applications this fiscal year (as of the end of December 2009), more than 1.5 times the figure for last fiscal year. The city’s program manager says, “It’s possible the Centram opening is beginning to have an effect… One step at a time, hopefully we can begin a new trend.”

At the Chūō-dōri Commercial Association, the cooperative union composed of shopowners is providing capital investment to begin construction of 125 condominium units in March. Commercial Association executive secretary Sashinaka Tsuneo says, “We want to do what we can to increase residents. We will bring back the vitality that we lost to the big-box stores out in the suburbs.”

Will the Centram be able to bring urban vitality back? Mayor Mori Masashi described the Centram as a “tool” to create urban activity, and encouraged commercial associations to come up with creative ideas, such as gourmet tours of trout sushi shops along the Centram line.
Photo tour of the Centram:
http://thankyou2200.blog.so-net.ne.jp/

The journey starts at JR Toyama Station.





9003 (black)













Getting off at Kokusai Kaigijō-mae (Toyama International Conference Center)…









9002 (silver)





Ōte Mall stop, with foldup seats.



Operators carry a bamboo broom to sweep the snow…



News scrolls at top, LCD at bottom is passenger information.

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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:37 PM   #859
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Groundbreaking for new Entetsu commercial building at Hamamatsu Station
http://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/sh...702000158.html

Quote:
January 26 marked the groundbreaking ceremony for a new commercial building being developed by Enshū Railway (Entetsu; HQ: Naka Ward, Hamamatsu City) on the site of its former Forte multi-use building outside JR Hamamatsu Station. The building will open in less than two years in November 2011. While the project is anticipated to help bring vitality to the struggling center of Hamamatsu City, some representatives from neighborhood commercial districts are less than ecstatic, saying the benefits of the project will be “localized.” All eyes are on whether this new commercial building will be able to fulfill its role in bringing activity back to the surrounding neighborhood.

According to Entetsu president Takeuchi Zen’ichirō, the new commercial building (13 stories aboveground, two stories belowground) will feature “cultural elements that aren’t found in suburban shops.” With a five-level catwalk connected to the existing Entetsu Department Store providing space for exhibitions of local art and a weather-proof event square protected by a large canopy between the department store and office tower, city officials and commerce and industry representatives have high hopes for the project as a “catalyst for the city center.”

But some say that the benefits of the project will only be realized near the station. Representatives from one commercial association are wary, saying, “We have doubts it will lead to increased attractiveness for the entire city center,” pushing for more cooperation with local residents and businesses.

At the time the plans for the new commercial building were finalized, big-name department store Daimaru (HQ: Ōsaka City), which was supposed to enter space vacated by the bankrupt Matsubishi Department Store, backed out. Under the circumstances, commercial association representatives say even if Entetsu opens the new commercial building, “without competition, there will be little stimulus to the regional economy.”

As a result of reduced consumption levels and deflation, Entetsu Department Stores’ September 2009 mid-term sales are 12.5 percent down from the same time the previous year. Consumers are still continuing to flock to large suburban shopping centers and big-box retailers with parking facilities, leading one woman who operates a restaurant in the city center to say, “What’s critical is how we can attract people and make this area lively again.”
Renderings:
Source: Enshū Railway





Entetsu is a small private railway in Shizuoka Prefecture. Outside of this development project, they are also in the process of elevating their rail line:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=683
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Old February 7th, 2010, 09:38 PM   #860
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Shizuoka Governor questions need for new freight facilities in Numazu Station elevation project
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/shi...OYT8T01342.htm

Quote:
In the dilemma surrounding the acquisition of land to build a new freight terminal as part of the rail elevation project around JR Numazu Station, it was revealed that JR Freight representatives submitted a letter to Shizuoka Prefecture Governor Kawakatsu Heita on January 2, to the effect that it was “displeased” with the Governor’s doubt over the necessity of a new freight terminal.

According to JR Freight’s Public Relations Office, JR Freight executive director Ōhashi Yasutoshi visited the Shizuoka Prefectural Office on January 29 and submitted a comment letter from JR Freight president Kobayashi Masaaki to the chief of the prefecture’s Construction Department.

The letter traces the circumstances surrounding the dilemma, including a January 1994 request of cooperation by the Prefectural Government to JR Freight in the relocation of the freight terminal as part of the railway elevation project, and a subsequent memorandum of understanding between the Prefectural Government, Numazu City, and JR Freight that “the relocation project shall not place a burden on JR Freight.”

The letter stresses that Numazu Freight Terminal is a critical terminal in the transport of raw materials to the various factories in the eastern region of Shizuoka Prefecture. In regards to Governor Kawakatsu’s remarks on the issue until now, the letter says, “It is regrettable for our company that the Governor is asserting that railway freight itself is unnecessary.” Rather, the letter insists, “The continuation of Numazu Freight Terminal’s functions is undoubtedly necessary. We request that the issue be resolved expediently with proper judgment,” asking for the relocation of the freight terminal to Numazu City’s Hara District in the near future.

At a January 14 press conference, Governor Kawakatsu hinted that he might reevaluate the plan to construct a new freight terminal due to the low volumesof cargo handled at Numazu Freight Terminal. When he met with Numazu City mayor Kurihara Hiroyasu on February 1, the Governor revealed that he had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) that would consolidate Numazu Freight Terminal’s functions at JR Yoshiwara Station (Suzukawa Honchō, Fuji City) and other terminals, remarking, “Is a new freight terminal really needed? I’m extremely skeptical.” At the meeting, Mayor Kurihara said he would follow in line with the Prefectural Government, expressing his intention to freeze the expropriation of land for the new freight terminal.

In regards to JR Freight’s letter, on the night of January 2, Governor Kawakatsu commented, “I understand fully the need for JR Freight as a company, but I am doubtful whether or not we really need Numazu Freight Terminal. JR Freight has a corporate social responsibility to explain to local residents why Numazu Freight Terminal is needed. We have already asked the MLIT to study current conditions at Numazu Freight Terminal, and I hope we can make a decision based on the results of that study.”
I posted a previous article introducing this project here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=112

Project overview:
Source: Shizuoka Prefecture

The yellow-orange is the new freight terminal, the dark orange is the new train yard, and the red is the section of the line being elevated.



Both the Tōkaidō Line (in red) and Gotemba Line (in pink) near Numazu Station will be elevated.



Numazu Station is at center, while the new train yard will be at left, near where the Tōkaidō Line will touch down.



Cross-section at the station. The Tōkaidō Line will have the outer two island platforms (four tracks), while the Gotemba Line will have the inner island platform (two tracks).



Cross-section of train yard.



Cross-section of freight terminal.



Rendering before, showing existing train yard at top:



Rendering after:

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