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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:48 AM   #881
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Kumamoto Prefecture launches FeliCa-based visitor information system
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/kum...OYT8T01409.htm

Quote:
Kumamoto Prefecture has developed a new visitor information system that began full service this month. When visitors place their mobile phones near special panels, the K-Touch Navi system provides transport access and visitor information about specified destinations for viewing on the mobile phone screen. With the fast-approaching opening of the full route of the Kyūshū Shinkansen next spring, the Prefectural Government hopes to increase convenience for visitors coming to Kumamoto.

K-Touch Navi makes use of an automatic communication technology known as FeliCa installed in mobile phones. When heading from JR Kumamoto Station to Kumamoto Castle, visitors can touch their mobile phones to a special panel at the station, setting the station as their “origin.” Visitors can then select Kumamoto Castle from one of the 30 or so destinations provided to see travel time and cost by each transport mode alternative, as well as maps to transit stops and transit schedules. Users can also search through special itineraries developed for the areas around each destination, as well as information on approx. 220 stores offering special locally-made products.

The panels are already installed at a total of 22 locations, including Kumamoto Bus Terminal, Kumamoto Airport, and key bus and tram stops inside central Kumamoto City, and additional units will be installed at three locations outside JR Kumamoto Station by February 2011. The cost to use the system is free outside of mobile phone connection fees.

As one of the national government’s Regional Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Adaptation Model Development Projects, Kumamoto Prefecture received national government funding covering the entire development cost of ¥68 million. Annual operational costs are estimated at approx. ¥8 million.

Kumamoto Prefecture is targeting 20,000 users a month when the Shinkansen opens in FY2011, and spokespersons say, “With a user-friendly system that provides attractive information, we hope that users will visit many of Kumamoto’s landmarks.”
Official website of K-Touch Navi: http://k-touchnavi.pref.kumamoto.jp/pc/

FeliCa is Sony’s proprietary RFID smart card technology and is the de facto standard in Japan for electronic money and transport farecard systems in Japan. Virtually all such systems in Japan, including Edy, Osaifu Keitai, Suica, ICOCA, PASMO, PiTaPa, etc. use FeliCa, as do several systems outside of Japan (Hong Kong Octopus, Singapore EZ-Link, Shenzhen Tong Card, Delhi Metro TRAVEL Card, etc.). The adaptation for mobile phones, known as Mobile FeliCa, allows people to use their phones in place of the smart card for these functions, including electronic money and public transportation payments. More and more, Sony’s personal computers and other consumer electronics are featuring built-in FeliCa reader/writers to allow users to check their smart card balance, usage history, etc.

These phone / touch panel applications have been increasing. Other examples include this one installed at JR Gotanda Station in central Tōkyō last year that distributes information to users about shops surrounding the station:


Source: tokyomx on YouTube

FeliCa promo by Sony:


Source: sonyinsider on YouTube
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:49 AM   #882
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Bureacratic struggles could impact Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line platform gate installation
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/lo...1419006-n1.htm

Quote:
The Ōsaka Municipal Transportation Bureau is aiming to install waist-high platform doors on the Municipal Subway Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line in FY2010 to prevent passengers from falling into the trackway, but it’s looking more and more likely that out of the 17 stations on the line, the one station outside of Ōsaka City—Kadoma Minami Station (Kadoma City)—could end up without any platform doors at all. Due to budget problems, Ōsaka Prefecture is reluctant to provide ¥20 million in funding assistance needed for the project. The debate between Ōsaka Prefecture governor Hashimoto Tōru and Ōsaka City mayor Hiramatsu Kunio over the future administrative relationship between Ōsaka’s municipal and prefectural governments is a heated one, but coordination on safety issues affecting the daily lives of residents is proving sluggish.

Kadoma City: No plans to help with funding
Platform doors or gates open in coordination with the arrival of trains at the station, but remain closed at other times, preventing falls into the trackway and contact with moving trains. The Municipal Transportation Bureau has introduced the system on the Municipal Subway Imazatosuji Line since its opening in 2006, and is aiming to install the system on all stations on the Sennichimae Line by FY2014 and on the Midōsuji Line by 2019.

The total cost of installing platform doors on the Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line is approx. ¥2.77 billion. The Municipal Transportation Bureau has already completed rolling stock modifications, and will spend about ¥100 million per station to install the units in all stations on the line in FY2010. For the one station outside of Ōsaka City limits, Kadoma Minami Station, the installation cost is approx. ¥93 million, and the Bureau was expecting ¥23 million in funding from Ōsaka Prefecture, in addition to ¥21 million in funding from the national government, with the balance assumed by the city.

But spokespersons for the Prefectural Urban Initiatives Depatment say Ōsaka Prefecture, which has been proceeding with funding cuts due to budget problems, “has no luxury to help fund platform door installations.” The Prefecture argues it is already providing funding to the amount of approx. ¥60 million for a FY2008-2011 elevator installation program at Dainichi Station (Moriguchi City) on the Municipal Subway Tanimachi Line, and in November 2009, opted not to include the platform door project in its proposed budget for FY2010.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), Ōsaka Prefecture’s funding share can also be assumed by Ōsaka City or Kadoma City, but the Municipal Transportation Bureau is reluctant, arguing, “There’s no way the citizens of Ōsaka City would agree to large sums of public money going towards funding improvements outside of the city. The Prefectural Government has contributed in the past when Kadoma Minami Station was constructed.” Spokespersons for Kadoma City say they have not heard anything from the Prefectural Government and “have no intentions to help fund” the project.

As a result, it’s almost entirely certain that Kadoma Minami Station will be the only station not to receive platform doors in FY2010. Municipal Transportation Bureau executives say, “From a train operation perspective as well, it’s not desirable to have a prolonged situation where one station is without platform doors,” and has asked Ōsaka Prefecture to provide its share of the funding, but the prospects for FY2011 and beyond are slim.

Incidents of passengers falling onto the tracks or coming into contact with moving trains at Municipal Subway platforms have yet to come to a stop, and in FY2008, there were 49 recorded incidents, with two fatalities. On January 31, a man with a visual impairment fell onto the tracks at Tanimachi 9-chōme Station on the Tanimachi Line just as a train was about to enter the station. The man escaped into the open space underneath the platform and escaped disaster by a hair’s breadth.
Both the Nagahori – Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line and Imazatosuji Line are “mini-subways” using linear-motor propulsion.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:52 AM   #883
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Ōsaka Municipal Transportation Bureau to consolidate subway maintenance facilities
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/osa...OYT8T01082.htm

Quote:
The Ōsaka Municipal Transportation Bureau has decided to shut down the approx. 2 ha Morinomiya Rolling Stock Workshop (Jōtō Ward, Ōsaka City), which performs rolling stock maintenance for three Municipal Subway lines, and consolidate the functions at the approx. 5.3 ha Midorigi Rolling Stock Workshop (Suminoe Ward, Ōsaka City). Starting in FY2010, the Bureau will break ground on a service tunnel (approx. 500 m) to allow trains to access the Midorigi Workshop. By increasing efficiencies through consolidation, the Bureau will cut its workforce by 70 skilled technicians, hoping to help improve its poor financial situation, with an accumulated deficit of ¥90 billion. The Bureau is aiming to complete the consolidation in FY2015.

Of the Municipal Subway’s eight lines, the Morinomiya Workshop is responsible for rolling stock maintenance of the 434 cars on the Tanimachi, Chūō, and Sennichimae Lines. The facility was constructed in 1969 and now that it’s beginning to show age, the time to replace it has come.

Instead of replacing the facility on the existing site, the Bureau determined that consolidating maintenance functions at the Midorigi Workshop, which oversees maintenance for the 542 cars on the Midōsuji and Yotsubashi Lines, had greater promise to reduce costs in the long-term.

As a result, a service tunnel allowing trains formerly maintained by Morinomiya Workshop to access Midorigi Workshop is being constructed west of Honmachi Station. The total project cost is approx. ¥14 billion, including investments at Midorigi Workshop.

The current workforce of skilled maintenance technicians consists of 170 workers at Morinomiya and 149 workers at Midorigi for a total of 319 workers, but this will be reduced to 219 workers after consolidation. The Bureau will consider active reuse of Morinomiya site, including selling the land to the private sector.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:52 AM   #884
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Kyōto City unveils rehabilitation plans for municipal subway and bus operations
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/...001000088.html

Quote:
On February 10, Kyōto City announced a rehabilitation plan for its Municipal Subway, primarily focusing on municipal bonds and workforce cuts. The Kyōto Municipal Subway is the only system among Japan’s nine publicly-operated subways to be identified by the national government as in need of a Financial Rehabilitation Plan, indicating that it is in dire need of additional funds. The city will discuss the plan with the City Council and submit a final plan to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications by the end of March.

In its FY2008 financial statements, the accumulated deficit of Municipal Subway operations—equivalent to a private firm’s cash flow—had reached approx. ¥31 billion as a result of approx. ¥500 billion in remaining corporate debt from construction and poor business performance.

According to the rehabilitation plan, the city will issue a total of ¥83 billion in municipal bonds through FY2018 and divert a portion of bus operation funds to help stabilize the subway’s budget. To increase revenues, the city will increase fares by five percent (about ¥10) within five years and increase daily ridership by 50,000. The city has also identified its plans to expand its ekinaka (station retail) business, as well as downsize its workforce by as many as 100 employees and cut wages to reduce costs.

In addition, the city announced a plan for the city’s Municipal Bus operation, which has also been identified as a Financial Rehabilitation Entity by the national government, including increasing ridership and reducing the workforce by 70 or more employees through FY2015.
I posted about the subway’s expanded station retail program here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=371
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=512
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:53 AM   #885
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Hankyū 6300 series retired from Kyōto Line limited express service
http://holdings.hankyu-hanshin.co.jp...01002125N1.pdf

Quote:
Since FY2003, Hankyū Railway has been replacing 6300 series trains, which have been running exclusively as limited express trains on the Kyōto Line since 1975, with new 9300 series trains, but at the end of February this year, we will complete replacement of all eleven 6300 series units.

The 6300 series units have already been removed from limited express and commuter limited express revenue service, but as a classic train that received the Japan Railfan Club’s Blue Ribbon Award and with gratitude for all the passengers who have used the trains faithfully over 35 years, for the eight days from Sunday, February 21 to Sunday, February 28, we will operate special runs to commemorate the trains’ retirement from limited express and commuter limited express service. Starting Wednesday, February 24, we will install a headmark on the train commemorating retirement.
6300 series holding down limited express runs on the Kyōto Line


Source: ayokoi on YouTube

More clips, this time with a “momiji” (autumn leaves) themed headmark.


Source: ayokoi on YouTube

Cab view from one of the modified 4-car 6300 series units operating on the Arashiyama Line (Katsura – Arashiyama).


Source: HINTEL242 on YouTube
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:54 AM   #886
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Hankyū to open green bicycle rental facility at Settsu-shi Station
http://holdings.hankyu-hanshin.co.jp...01002046N1.pdf

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As part of an environmentally-friendly lifestyle plan and a strategy to prevent illegal bicycle parking, Hankyū Corporation has been actively developing its urban bicycle rental business, and with the upcoming March 14 opening of Settsu-shi Station, we will open our 19th Hankyū Rent-a-Cycle bicycle rental location at the station plaza on the south side of the station.

In fitting with the theme of Settsu-shi Station as a “carbon neutral station,” this new rental location will be the first in our company to feature solar panels on the roof of the facility. The electricity generated by sunlight will help charge the batteries on the electric-assist bicycles and provide a power source for lighting and air conditioning in inside the facility. All interior lighting in the facility will use LEDs to reduce electricity consumption, and the exterior fence surrounding the facility will use aesthically-pleasing cultivated plants, which will be partially watered using rainwater collected at the station. These measures are designed to reduce the environmental load of the rental facility. A total of 300 rental bicycles will be provided at the location, consisting of 150 regular bicycles and 150 electric-assist bicycles, and we will establish a new regular user fee for electric-assist bicycles.

Hankyū Corporation is receiving funding for the completion of this bicycle rental facility as an FY2009 Low-Carbon Local Development Project.

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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:55 AM   #887
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Interview with Nankai CEO
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...1433015-n1.htm

Quote:
Railway revenues last year took a hit from the economic slump and swine flu scare.
With the deflation, the movement of people and goods is sluggish. Finding employment is also tough, and I want to make active use of our financial resources to develop new products. Up until now, our ridership has grown as cities have grown, but with an aging population, the situation will become more dire. We need to develop communities where the elderly have easy access to public transportation.

The activity around Namba, the location of Nankai’s main terminal, has increased thanks to the opening of the Hanshin Namba Line.
In terms of potential for increased prestige, Namba is definitely No. 1 for us, and that’s always in the back of my mind. There’s definitely positives to the opening of the Hanshin Namba Line, but there’s also negatives, as people traveling between Nara and the Hanshin areas only pass through Namba. In my mind, how we get the word out about Namba is the key to bringing activity to the area.

Last year, you renovated your Namba Galleria plaza and Namba City commercial facility inside Namba Station.
Our users have commended us on the open, airy design of Namba Galleria. On the same floor as the faregates (the third floor), we’ve constructed a new entrance to Takashimaya, bridging station and department store. We’ve increased mobility in and around the station, creating a sense of unity in the Namba area.

There are talks of improving access to Kansai International Airport (KIX), such as through the proposed Naniwasuji Line.
As airport users increase, we can increase limited express trains between Namba and KIX. Currently, however, we’ve determined its more practical in terms of passenger loads to have the limited expresses stop at intermediate stations to allow people to board. The discussion surrounding the Naniwasuji Line will now focus on the project’s financial feasibility and who will be contributing funds where. Ideally speaking, it’s not very efficient to have the line branch off in the middle.

Nankai has also teamed up with other railway companies to offer tourist tickets.
Last year, we teamed up with Keihan Electric Railway and JR’s non-Shinkansen network to offer the One-Day Pass. It’s meant to compete against use of the private automobile within the coverage area, and the goals are the same. We’re now looking to increase ridership by offering discounted tickets covering public transport in specific areas.

Watari Shinji
Graduated from the Ōsaka Institute of Technology. Joined Nankai Electric Railway in 1975. After serving as executive manager of the Railway Operations Department, he became a board director in 2005 and was promoted to his current position in 2007. He was born in Ōsaka City, and is 59 years old.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:55 AM   #888
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New Nankai-Takashimaya passage is latest in efforts to improve Namba image
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...1436016-n1.htm

Quote:
The Takashimaya Ōsaka flagship store (Chūō Ward, Ōsaka City), which is set to open its renovated main building to the public in March, and Nankai Electric Railway, which owns the adjacent Nankai Namba Station, have teamed up to open a new shared passage running east-west through retail facility Namba CITY, located beneath the elevated station, in April. The effort is an attempt to improve access on not only the north-south axis connecting the station and department store, but also the east-west axis, which is home to Dōguya-suji and Yoshimoto Kōgyō’s Namba Grand Kagetsu theatre, advertising the charm of the Namba area.

The 5 m wide passage will cut east-west through the station, stretching approx. 84 m. The passage slices through the first floor of Takashimaya’s office building, which up until now had blocked the connection, joining 52 m on the Nankai end and 32 m on the Takashimaya end. To realize the east-west passage, Takashimaya offered a profitable first-floor gateway entrance, while Nankai changed the orientation of its escalators.

The two companies began efforts to improve mobility in the station area six years ago. When the replacement of Takashimaya’s main building started up in 2004, Nankai had been hammering out a plan to revitalize the terminal building, and the two companies joined forces. “If the station and department store work together, we will gain a competitive edge over other areas,” remarked Nankai representatives.

At the time, Takashimaya was struggling to draw customers. A survey revealed that the reason was a negative image of the Namba area, including “dirty streets” and “poor accessibility on foot.” Tawara Kazuya from Takashimaya’s New Main Building Project Office says, “If we let things go, the Kita (Umeda) area would come out on top, and the Minami (Namba) area would end up in second-place. We worked with Nankai to hammer out a vision for the department store and station, both at the center of Namba, that would make the area better.”

Since 2005, the two companies have established volunteer “cleanup crews” together with the local commercial associations. In the early morning before leaving for work, volunteers pick up trash, take down flyers, and remove illegally-parked bicycles. The two companies have also made access across Namba much easier with an area map provided in four languages.

Yono Kaoru from Nankai Electric Railway’s Namba Urban Planning Initiatives Office says, “The charm of Namba is in strolling through the area on foot. Starting last year, we’ve introduced some of the historic shops and must-see spots in our Namba maps.”


Source: Ōsaka City
Nankai Namba Station
Average daily entries and exits: 266,200 (2007)

The following stations are also located in the vicinity, together forming the Namba Station complex:
  • Ōsaka Municipal Subway Namba Station (Midōsuji Line, Yotsubashi Line, Sennichimae Line): 371,100 daily entries and exits (2007)
  • JR Namba Station (Yamatoji Line): 28,000 daily entries (2007)
  • Kintetsu / Hanshin Ōsaka Namba Station (Kintetsu Namba / Nara Line, Hanshin Namba Line):
    • Kintetsu: 109,700 daily entries and exits (2009)
    • Hanshin: 10,900 daily entries (2009)

image hosted on flickr

Source: Ryokucha on Flickr

In addition to the classical-style building holding Takashimaya department store, the other landmark building in the station complex is the modern tower, home to the Swissȏtel Nankai Ōsaka (formerly the Nankai South Tower Hotel Ōsaka before being purchased).

image hosted on flickr

Source: Hikaru_L on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: mari-ten on Flickr

Inside Namba Galleria.

image hosted on flickr

Source: Hikaru_L on Flickr

Classic all-stainless steel 6300 series at the station.

image hosted on flickr

Source: 海爾渥 / Hairworm on Flickr

Temporary seafood stall inside the station.

image hosted on flickr

Source: Marxpix on Flickr

A limited express Rapi:t β waits at Platform 9 for its trip to Kansai International Airport. Nankai Namba has a total of eight track bays at the station. It will be interesting to see what option they choose to take for the Naniwasuji Line, as trying to connect it to the Nankai Main Line would require burying some or all of Nankai Namba Station.

image hosted on flickr

Source: Hyougushi on Flickr

Inside Namba Walk, an underground retail facility within the station complex.

image hosted on flickr

Source: james.combs on Flickr
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:57 AM   #889
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Nankai to open renovated Namba Parks in March
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...1933031-n1.htm

Quote:
On February 1, Nankai Electric Railway announced that it will debut the renovated Namba Parks on March 11. The railway also announced the details of new stores opening inside Namba Parks with the renovation. A total of 63 shops will occupy the renovated facilities, 19 of which are firsts for Japan or the Kansai region, increasing the total number of shops at Namba Parks by ten to 250.

Hawaii surfing fashion store Honolua will open its first store in Japan, while Diary, the brand shop of fashion designer Itakura Keiji, who is popular among women in their 30s, will make its first landing in the Kansai region following a shop inside the Shibuya Parco in Tōkyō. Nankai representatives say they expanded the array of stores targeting adult women. The renewal project redesigns the first phase (Floors 1 through 5) of Namba Parks, which opened in October 2003, and includes new tenants, relocation of tenants, and renovation.

In the Namba area, the Takashimaya Ōsaka flagship store is currently undergoing an expansion and will open Phase 1 of its new space on March 2. The department store will be increasing its sales floor area, including construction of the Kansai area’s largest restaurant collection in the top floors of the building. Nankai Electric Railway is also proceeding with a renovation of Nankai Namba Station commercial facility Namba CITY in time for the completion of Takashimaya’s expansion in spring 2011, hoping to work synergistically to bring renewed vitality to Ōsaka’s Minami area.
Namba Parks, a multi-level shopping center with open space and residential tower developed by Nankai on the former site of Ōsaka Stadium (the stadium was the home field of the former Nankai Hawks baseball franchise). The Nankai Main Line wraps around the site as it pulls into Namba terminal.

image hosted on flickr

Source: gucky on Flickr
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:58 AM   #890
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Toyama Chihō Railroad to introduce new IC card
http://www.tetsudo.com/news/505/%E5%...0%8E%E5%85%A5/

Quote:
Toyama Chihō Railroad will introduce an IC card system to all of its Toyama City lines on Sunday, March 14. With the launch of the IC card system, IC card mutual interoperability will also begin between Toyama Chihō Railroad and the Toyama Light Rail.

Toyama Chihō Railroad’s IC card will be called “ecomyca,” and the card is valid on all lines in Toyama Chihō Railroad’s Toyama City network. Fares on the Toyama City streetcars are ¥200, but passengers using the IC card will be charged a discounted fare of ¥170. The card is also designed to handle the existing discounted transfer system.

On March 14, mutual interoperability with Toyama Light Rail’s passca IC card will also begin, and passengers with one of either card will be able to ride both Toyama Chihō Railroad streetcars in Toyama City, as well as the Toyama Light Rail. Discounted fares will also carry over, and passengers with either card will be able to receive the discounted fare on both systems. The discounted fare for the Toyama Light Rail has been set at ¥160, but will now be raised to ¥170 to match Toyama Chihō Railroad.

Source: Toyama Chihō Railroad

Map of the Toyama Chihō Railroad streetcar network in Toyama City (minus the Toyama Light Rail). The blue loop is the Centram.


Source: Wikipedia

passca


Source: Toyama Light Rail
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:59 AM   #891
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JR Central downsizes new tenant building at Nagoya Station
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...2244041-n1.htm

Quote:
On February 10, JR Central revealed changes to part of its plan to replace the 20-story Nagoya Terminal Building adjacent to the JR Central Towers (twin towers) above Nagoya Station, and announced a downsizing of scale of the new tenant building.

Plans up until now called for a 260 m tower, taller than Midland Square (247 m) outside Nagoya Station—currently the tallest building in the Chūbu Region—but with the drop in demand for office space, the new building was downsized to approx. 220 m. The railway is currently in talks with Matsuzakaya’s Nagoya Station department store, currently a tenant in the existing building, about moving into the new building. The railway will begin demolition of the building in late September, and the new building is scheduled for completion in FY2016.

According to JR Central spokespersons, the railway expects demand for office and hotel space to continue to decline, and downsized the new building from the originally-planned 55-story, 280,000 sq m GFA tower to a 46-story, 260,000 sq m GFA tower. The ground floor to the 18th floor of the new building will feature retail space, the 19th floor to the 25th floor will feature hotel space, and the 26th floor and above will feature office space. Total construction cost is within ¥150 billion.
Preliminary renderings:
Source: JR Central

The two circular towers and connected midrise are the existing JR Central Towers (53-story and 51-story towers, with an 18-story midrise), which cover 416,600 sq m GFA. This is the largest single station tenant building in Japan. The new tenant building being planned is just right of JR Central Towers, and will be connected to JR Central Towers by passages on the 2nd and 15th floors.



The first floor of the building will house a bus terminal for Nagoya Municipal Transportation Bureau buses, while the hotel space on the 19th through the 25th floors will be a business hotel operated by a JR Central group company.



Nagoya Station is the main terminal of Nagoya City and the most important rail hub in the Chūbu Region, serving both urban (subway / commuter) and intercity (high-speed and regular) rail. Average ridership at Nagoya Station:
JR Central: 191,000 daily entries (2007)
Aonami Line: 11,000 daily entries (2007)
Nagoya Municipal Subway: 168,000 daily entries (2007)
Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu Nagoya Station): 279,000 daily entries and exits (2008)
Kintetsu Corporation (Kintetsu Nagoya Station): 109,000 daily entries and exits (2008)

Bustling JR Central Towers / Nagoya Station complex


Source: norimatsu2009 on YouTube
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:00 AM   #892
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Utsunomiya City puts LRT and Utsunomiya Station East Exit improvements on ice
http://www.shimotsuke.co.jp/town/reg...0100206/279248

Quote:
On February 5, Utsunomiya City revealed its plans to downsize its LRT Implementation Promotion Office and JR Utsunomiya Station East Exit Improvements Promotion Office, both part of its General Initiatives Department, and consolidate both into the Department’s Transportation Policy Section and Local Policy Office, respectively, as part of its FY2010 reorganization. The city cited Mayor Satō Eiichi’s shelving of the public workshops regarding the light rail transit (LRT) project in October of last year, as well as a return to square one for the JR Utsunomiya Station East Exit Improvements Project. Top city officials explain, “This is a structural reorganization that matches the level of project advancement expected in the new fiscal year.”

The LRT Implementation Promotion Office was established under the General Initiatives Department in April 2006. Currently, the Office holds eight employees, including the Office Chief, a managerial position. The JR Utsunomiya Station East Exit Improvements Promotion Office was established in April 2005, also under the General Initiatives Department. The Office is under the management of an Office Chief and is composed of thirteen city employees.

In regards to the LRT plan, Mayor Satō told reporters at a regular press conference in October of last year, “The direction of the national government’s transportation policy, including policy towards LRT projects, is unclear,” expressing his intention to shelve the public workshops originally planned for FY2009. Together with these developments, the city decided to reevaluate its organizational structure.

The JR Utsunomiya Station East Exit Improvements were originally scheduled to open in spring 2011, but big-name general contractor Shimizu Corporation and the rest of the Group 778 team of firms bailed out of the project in May of last year. As a result, the city decided to put city-owned parcels originally scheduled for improvements up for a three-year temporary lease. Until a new improvement plan resurfaces, the city will close the Promotion Office and downsize the staff.
I originally posted about the East Exit improvements here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=118
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:01 AM   #893
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Progress made on Oyama Station area planned improvements
http://mainichi.jp/area/tochigi/wide...20120000c.html

Quote:
In Oyama City, a large-scale project to help revitalize the city’s urban zone is about to get rolling. A contractor for the highrise tower destined for the site of the former Oyama City Hall at the West Exit of JR Oyama Station will be determined next week, after which the building will enter into preliminary design. In addition, barrier-free improvements at the station have been stalled, but the central public passage connecting the separated East Exit and West Exit at the station is scheduled to break ground before the end of the year. Will the surrounding neighborhood be able to bring back its vitality?

The Oyama Station Commercial Street continues approx. 200 m from the West Exit at the station along Gion-jō-dōri. Until ten years ago, 36 restaurants and other stores lined the street, but that number is now roughly half. One shopowner laments, “There’s no longer enough residents here that you can call this a commercial street anymore.” According to the city, the residential population in the neighborhood surrounding the station’s West Exit was 9,277 in 1970, but this has declined to less than half as of April 2009, to 4,184.

After the abandonment of the Nippon Flour Mills plant at the station’s East Exit, the city has been progressing with a urban revitalization project since 2002, completing a station plaza at the East Exit in 2008. The city was scheduled to break ground on the highrise tower and central public passage, but was forced to deal with a miscalculation in the project budget estimates.

The city assembled a plan to construct a 27-story, approx. 100 m tall highrise condominium tower with 200 units on the site of the former City Hall Building No. 2 located in Shiroyamachō 3-chōme. But partially as a result of the skyrocketing cost of steel, the city feared it would not be able to secure a contractor (designated project agent), and extended the selection process last summer. Reconsidering the financial feasibility of the project, the city downsized the tower to 20 stories (approx. 60 m tall) and 120 units and reopened the bidding process.

At the end of last year, the city had received two bids, and after reviewing the bid proposals, the selection committee recommended Taisei Corporation (HQ: Tōkyō) on January 25. A council meeting of the redevelopment union composed of rightsowners will be held on February 8, at which time a formal decision will be announced. The total project cost is approx. ¥3.9 billion, and construction will begin in June of next year, with the first move-ins scheduled for 2013. The city is forecasting 120 households and approx. 300 residents total.

One self-employed man (57yo) remarked, “I don’t know if it will revitalize the area, but I’ll welcome an increase in people.” Another self-employed woman (63yo) said, “Even if these condominiums get built, I don’t think customers will start coming to these individually-run shops.” However, she added, “We can’t blame the government or the times for a lack of activity, we just need to have the will and we can bring customers in.”

And what of the central public passage at the station which city residents have been wishing for? The station’s West Exit and East Exit are not equipped with elevators, making access difficult for people in wheelchairs, people with strollers, and the elderly. According to JR East’s Ōmiya Branch Office, the only Shinkansen stop between Tōkyō and Sendai without elevators inside the station building is Oyama Station. If the central public passage is completed, access between the the West Exit and East Exit, currently divided by the JR Utsunomiya Line, will become barrier-free and much easier for everyone.

Oyama City resident Matsumori Shōzō (81yo) cannot walk, and must move around in a hand-operated wheelchair. In regards to the lack of a down escalator at the West Exit, Matsumori said, “I hope they build it as soon as possible. If possible, I’d like them to install an elevator.”

The city has been in negotiations with JR East since FY2005, but in regards to the time exhausted from the planning to groundbreaking, a spokesperson for the city’s New Urban Improvements Implementation Section explained that time was needed to discuss the issues with JR. In September of last year, the city finally signed a fundamental agreement with JR. According to the plan, the new central public passage would be approx. 90 m long and 10 m wide. Both the East Exit and West Exit would feature one elevator and two escalators (one per direction) each. The city has contracted detailed design to JR, and construction is scheduled to begin in FY2010, with completion expected in FY2012.
I first posted about this project here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...6&postcount=84

New passage in red:


Source: Oyama City

New East Exit


Source: Oyama City
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:02 AM   #894
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PASMO expands to Kominato Railway buses
http://www.pasmo.co.jp/news/press/re...ominatobus.pdf

Quote:
Starting Sunday, March 14, 2010, transport IC card PASMO will be accepted on a portion of bus lines operated by Kominato Railway (HQ: Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture; President: Ishikawa Shinpei), improving convenience for passengers.

As a result, PASMO is now accepted on all PASMO Committee member companies (26 railway / monorail operators and 77 bus operators), excepting a portion of bus lines. PASMO and Suica are also interoperable, and with either a PASMO or Suica, passengers can use all of these private railways, subways, and buses, in addition to JR East trains.

The PASMO Committee and PASMO Co., Ltd. will continue efforts to improve PASMO user services and convenience, and are looking to encourage more use of transport IC cards and public transportation.

PASMO-affiliated operators:
  • Railway / monorail
    Izu Hakone Railway, Enoshima Electric Railway, Odakyū Electric Railway, Kantō Railway, Keiō Corporation, Keisei Electric Railway, Keihin Electric Express Railway, Saitama Railway, Sagami Railway, Metropolitan Intercity Railway, Shin-Keisei Electric Railway, Seibu Railway, Tōkyō Tama Intercity Monorail, Chiba Urban Monorail, Tōkyū Corporation, Tōkyō Metro, Tōkyō Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, Tōbu Railway, Tōyō Rapid Railway, Hakone Tozan Railway, Hokusō Railway, Maihama Resort Line, Tōkyō Waterfront New Transit Yurikamome, Yokohama Minatomirai Railway, Yokohama Municipal Transportation Bureau, Yokohama New Transit
  • Bus
    Izu Hakone Bus, Enoden Bus Yokohama, Odakyū Bus, Kanagawa Chūō Kōtsū (Kanachū), Kawasaki Municipal Transportation Bureau, Kawasaki Tsurumi Rinkō Bus, Kantō Bus, Keiō Dentetsu Bus, Keisei Bus, Keihin Kyūkō Bus, Kokusai Kōgyō, Sōtetsu Holdings, Seibu Bus, Tachikawa Bus, Chiba Kōtsū, Tōkyū Bus Corporation, Tōkyō Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, Tōbu Bus Central, Nishi-Tōkyō Bus, Hakone Tozan Bus, Hitachi Group, Fujikyū Bus, Funabashi Shin-Keisei Bus, Heiwa Kōtsū, Yamanashi Kōtsū, Yokohama Municipal Transportation Bureau
    Starting March 14: Kominato Railway Bus
    Enoden Bus Fujisawa, Odakyū City Bus, Shōnan Kanakō Bus, Tsukui Kanakō Bus, Yokohama Kanakō Bus, Sagami Kanakō Bus, Fujisawa Kanakō Bus, Rinkō Green Bus, Keiō Bus East, Keiō Bus South, Keiō Bus Central, Keiō Bus Koganei, Chiba City Bus, Keisei Town Bus, Chiba Flower Bus, Keisei Transit Bus, Chiba Green Bus, Chiba Chūō Bus, Chiba Kaihin Kōtsū, Chiba Nairiku Bus, Tōkyō Bay City Kōtsū, Chiba Rainbow Bus, Keisei Bus System, Haneda Keikyū Bus, Yokohama Keikyū Bus, Shōnan Keikyū Bus, Sōtetsu Bus, Seibu Jidōsha, Seibu Kankō Bus, CityBus Tachikawa, Tōkyū Transsés, Asahi Motor Corporation, Ibakyū Motor Corporation, Kokusai Jūō Kōtsū, Kawagoe Motor Corporation, Tōbu Bus East, Tōbu Bus West, Bandō Bus, Odakyū Hakone Highway Bus, Fujikyū Shōnan Bus, Fuji Express, Fujikyū Yamanashi Bus, Fujikyū Heiwa Kankō, Fujikyū City Bus, Fujikyū Shizuoka Bus, Narashino Shin-Keisei Bus, Matsudo Shin-Keisei Bus, Aska Bus, Yokohama Traffic Development
    Starting February 23: Tōbu Bus Nikkō
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:03 AM   #895
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Newspaper train from Ryōgoku Station to end service March 12
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/trend/...0841005-n1.htm

Quote:
The special “Newspaper Train” that departs from Ryōgoku Station (Sumida Ward, Tōkyō Prefecture) on the JR Sōbu Line carrying evening-edition newspapers from Tōkyō bound for Chiba and the Bōsō Peninsula will end service on March 12. According to the JR companies, this is the last remaining train devoted to carrying newspapers. The client cited cost-cutting measures as the reason, putting an end to one historic form of railway transport.

At 12:50 pm, an eight-car train heading back to the barn appears at Platform 3 of Ryōgoku Station, a switchback platform that passengers aren’t allowed to access. Workers pile the newspapers onto the train, which departs the station at 1:18. The newspapers are unloaded bundle-by-bundle at stations along the line and transported to sales outlets.

According to Director Saitō Masashi of the Newspaper Transport Alliance, newspaper trains used to depart from Ueno and the former Shiodome Station as well, and also transported morning-edition newspapers. The train from Ryōgoku Station survived because of the poor roadway network in the Bōsō Peninsula, but the daily cost is several tens of thousands of yen. With the completion of expressways and the drop in tolls, switching to trucks cuts the cost down to one-third of the cost by train, and the client decided to terminate the contract.

“Even if it’s just a ‘sign of the times,’ this is a tradition that has continued since the days of the National Railways, and it’s a little disappointing,” remarked Saitō.
The newspaper trains from Ryōgoku Station are 113 series trains in Yokosuka colors. They are actually regular service trains and carry passengers, just with one car cordoned off to carry the newspapers, although the train does not pick up passengers at Ryōgoku. Contrary to the article, I don’t believe this is the last newspaper train, although it’s probably one of the more well-known examples.

Small clip of workers stacking papers at Ryōgoku Station and the 113 series entering the platform:


Source: kiHa3062 on YouTube

Another newspaper train, a 211 series, at Kumagaya Station on the JR Takasaki Line.


Source: sakamayuya on YouTube
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:05 AM   #896
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Tōkyō Metro hopes to steal JR passengers with “new” Harajuku Station
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...002100211.html

Quote:
Tōkyō Metro has revealed that it will be adding “Harajuku” to train announcements for Meiji Jingū-mae Station (Shibuya Ward, Tōkyō) on the Fukutoshin Line. The “secondary” station name is intended to help compete against the JR Yamanote Line, and will enter into use with schedule changes in March. Tōkyō Metro representatives confided, “Harajuku is the younger generation’s neighborhood, and we want to steal the customers from JR.”

Since its days as the Eidan Subway, Tōkyō Metro has established official secondary station names at twelve of its stations, including Matsuya – Mitsukoshi for Ginza Station and Tsukiji Honganji Temple for Tsukiji Station. As a basic principle, the railway has added secondary station names when a portion of a station’s construction costs is covered by local neighborhoods or other entities. The upcoming “Harajuku,” however, doesn’t fit this mold, and is a first for the railway. “Harajuku” will be shown on signs inside the station and broadcast in announcements inside trains.

The distance between the Yamanote Line’s Harajuku Station and entrances to the Fukutoshin Line’s Meiji Jingū-mae Station are as close as 30 m apart—a stone’s throw away. But for teenagers and the younger generation coming to visit from outside the Tōkyō area, the name “Harajuku” is much more well-known, and the issue has been a long-standing topic of debate in Tōkyō Metro’s business strategy.

Tōkyō Metro will also be publicizing services other than just the secondary station name.

From Ikebukuro Station (Toshima Ward), it’s currently 14 minutes and ¥190 to Meiji Jingū-mae Station on the Fukutoshin Line, but only 12 minutes and ¥160 to Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line. With Tōkyō Metro’s schedule changes set to kick into effect on March 6, express trains on weekends and holidays only will also stop at Meiji Jingū-mae Station, reducing travel time by four minutes to 10 minutes.

The way station names are presented differs among the major railway companies.

For the Tōkyō Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, Daimon Station’s secondary name “Hamamatsuchō” was established without compensation. However, there are cases where it provides secondary station names when local jurisdictions have contributed to station construction costs or the railway has received advertisement fees. JR East, Keiō, Keikyū, and Keisei have stations with airports or stadiums as secondary names to improve passenger convenience. However, Odakyū, Seibu, Tōkyū, and Tōbu keep it simple with only the primary name of the station.
JR Harajuku Station
Average daily entries: 74,500 (2008)

Station building is a quaint wooden structure.

image hosted on flickr

Source: 柏翰 / ポーハン / POHAN on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: 愛攝影的史奴比(Snoopy Photographer) on Flickr

There is a special platform at the station only used during New Year’s for people visiting Meiji Jingū (Meiji Shrine).

image hosted on flickr

Source: [email protected] on Flickr

Harajuku is known for edgy teen fashion and cosplay.

image hosted on flickr

Source: whiskyforthedevil on Flickr

The glass box is the closest entrance to Meiji Jingū-mae Station.

image hosted on flickr

Source: Onari on Flickr

Tōkyō Metro Meiji Jingū-mae (Harajuku) Station
Average daily entries and exits: 73,500 (2008)

image hosted on flickr

Source: naoyafujii on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: midorisyu on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: midorisyu on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Source: dariko on Flickr

Fukutoshin Line art

image hosted on flickr

Source: dariko on Flickr
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:07 AM   #897
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Kōtō Ward establishes fund for proposed Yūrakuchō Line extension
Kensetsu Tsūshin Shimbun

Quote:
Tōkyō Prefecture’s Kōtō Ward will establish a new construction fund in the hopes of jumpstarting the extension of Line 8 of the Tōkyō Subway, the Yūrakuchō Line. In its proposed budget for FY2010, Kōtō Ward included ¥500 million as a reserve deposit. The fund will be used towards the construction of intermediate stations, the cost of which are born by local neighborhoods. In regards to the reasoning behind establishing the fund, Kōtō Ward mayor Yamazaki Takaaki explained, “If we don’t show that we are serious about the extension, the national and Tōkyō Metropolitan governments won’t take action. The extension is one project we want to see happen, and we wanted to show our position on it as the ward government.”

The proposed extension would stretch approx. 5.2 km from Toyosu to Sumiyoshi. The Working Group for the Extension of Subway Lines 8 and 11, composed of Kōtō Ward, Sumida Ward, Katsushika Ward, and Chiba Prefecture’s Matsudo City, have come to an agreement to designate this section as the “initial phase” of the extension. As the section lies entirely within Kōtō Ward, the ward set aside its own money in a separately established fund.

The target extension was identified in the Transport Policy Council Report No. 18 (Basic Plan Regarding Rapid Rail and Other Improvements to the Transport Network of the Tōkyō Region) released in January 2000, in which the line was classified for an ideal construction start before FY2015. Mayor Yamazaki says he wants to complete the project as early as possible, improving convenience of north-south transport links, which he says is a current “weak point.” The extension is expected to reduce travel times from the eastern regions of Kōtō Ward and western regions of Chiba Prefecture to the Toyosu area, as well as alleviate congestion on the Tōzai Subway Line.

In addition to the Toyosu – Sumiyoshi section, the Working Group is also considering an extension of Subway Line 8 from Oshiage to Kameari, and an extension of Line 11 (Hanzōmon Line) from Oshiage to Matsudo.

In studies commissioned in FY2007 and FY2008, considering the unique characteristics, investment scale, and expected ridership of each section, a phased approach was deemed appropriate.

In addition, the studies concluded that after comparing cost-benefit, investment recoverability, and ridership trends, the first phase should be the Toyosu – Sumiyoshi section, while the second phase should be one of the other two remaining sections.

The studies also identified appropriate arrangements to get the project started, assuming the project makes use of funding assistance provided by the Act on Enhancement of Convenience of Urban Railways, adopted in 2005. In order to realize Phase 2 of the project, the study concludes that it must be administered together with Phase 1 as a single project, and that several budgetary measures are needed, including increasing the base fare and providing interest-free loans.

The Working Group will now work to realize the project as quickly as possible, building partnerships with the national and Tōkyō Metropolitan governments, as well as Tōkyō Metro, which is hoped will be the project lead.
A very simple graphic that shows the proposed extensions of the Yūrakuchō Line (orange dotted line) and Hanzōmon Line (purple dotted line). The Yūrakuchō Line branch would start at Toyosu at the bottom, through Sumiyoshi (Toei Subway Shinjuku Line), Kinshichō (JR Sōbu Main Line), Oshiage (Toei Subway Asakusa Line), Yotsugi (Keisei Oshiage Line), Kameari (JR Jōban Line Local), to Noda-shi (Tōbu Noda Line). The Transport Policy Council Report No. 18 from 2000 calls for track to be shared between the Yūrakuchō Line and Hanzōmon Line, but there is a need to make sure the extension doesn’t cannibalize ridership off the fairly new Tsukuba Express (in green).


Source: Chiba Prefecture
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:08 AM   #898
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Tōkyō Monorail announces name of new station at Haneda
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...002100357.html

Quote:
On February 10, Tōkyō Monorail announced that “Haneda Airport International Terminal” has been selected as the name for the new station set to open in October in Ōta Ward, Tōkyō Prefecture. The exits for the new station will be directly connected to the departure lobby at the new International Terminal at Haneda Airport, also scheduled to open in October. A journey on a rapid train to JR Hamamatsuchō Station (Minato Ward, Tōkyō Prefecture) is scheduled to take 14 minutes.

According to Tōkyō Monorail, the new station is being constructed between the existing Tenkūbashi and Shin-Seibijō Stations. Construction began in October 2007, with a total cost of approx. ¥8.5 billion.

Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū) will also open its International Terminal Station (temporary name) between Tenkūbashi and Haneda Airport Stations before the new International Terminal opens for flights, aiming to increase convenience to the new building.
HD window views:
Source: cat2525jp on YouTube

Dusk pt. 1 (between Haneda Airport and Tennōzu Isle)



Dusk pt. 2 (between Tennōzu Isle and Hamamatsuchō)



Dawn pt. 1 (in the opposite direction)



Dawn pt. 2

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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:09 AM   #899
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Bike parking headaches at Mabashi Station
http://mytown.asahi.com/chiba/news.p...00001002060003

Quote:
A privately-operated bicycle parking facility outside the West Exit at JR Mabashi Station, with a capacity for 2,000 bicycles that makes it the largest facility in Matsudo City, closed at the end of January, resulting in the spillover of about 500 bicycles onto the station plaza. With the closure of the facility, the city has been searching for an alternative location since June of last year, but was only able to secure space for 1,000 bicycles in a location a slight distance away. An efficient solution to the problem has yet to be found, and it’s likely people will continue to leave their bicycles at non-designated locations.

The contract between the property owner and the company operating the parking facility was set to expire at the end of December, and by the end of June, the operator had decided to close the facility once the contract expired. A large supermarket will begin construction on the site in the near future.

According to the city, they were able to extend parking into January, but not longer, and on January 25, the operator notified city officials that it would close the facility at the end of the month.

With the closure, the city has increased the capacity of the parking facility underneath the tracks near the West Exit (approx. 280 m away) to 1,000 bicycles. In an attempt to lure users, the city will make this parking free until March, but even when full, there is still more parking needed.

The privately-operated facility opened in 1998, and many commuters to work and school made use of it. Now with few options, users day in and day out are turning to leaving their bicycles at the station plaza, where parking bikes is prohibited. A survey by the city on February 3 counted as many as 540 bicycles at the plaza.

In addition to the parking facility beneath the elevated tracks, the city has decided to demolish the fountain outside the station to make another facility, and included the construction costs in its supplementary budget in September of last year. Some locals are opposed to the fountain demolition, however, feeling it is a symbol of Mabashi, and the construction ground to a halt. The city searched for space in the area surrounding the station’s West Exit, but was unable to find an appropriate location.

The private parking facility operator leased out land for one month only at another location, with space for 800 bicycles, and began selling tickets on January 26. The plan never materialized, however, and the company is currently returning money to ticket owners.

The station tenant building at Mabashi Station is set to open next February, but only has enough space for 200 bicycles. The city plans to continue searching for new locations, but with no prospects, officials say there is little they can do but wait things out for a bit.
Mabashi Station is on the JR Jōban Line (local) and the Ryūtetsu Nagareyama Line. Daily entries are 25,000 for the JR station and 1,700 for the Ryūtetsu station.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:10 AM   #900
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Seibu Ikebukuro Line inbound track between Shakujii Kōen and Nerima Takanodai elevated

I posted pictures from the open house they did at Shakujii Kōen, but they have now opened the station and tracks for revenue service. They’ve only opened one inbound track, as they haven’t yet completed the new second inbound track being constructed as part of the quadruple-tracking of the line between Shakujii Kōen and Nerima Takanodai.

First, videos from the last day of service on the ground-level inbound track, Saturday, February 6. A 101 series train (express from Hannō bound for Ikebukuro) connects with and takes over a Seibu 6000 series train (semi-express from Kotesashi bound for Shin-Kiba on the Tōkyō Metro Yūrakuchō Line). A 20000 series arrives on the outbound platform.


Source: tkhr6767 on YouTube

Grade crossing near the station.


Source: tkhr6767 on YouTube

Some cab views on the first day on the elevated inbound track, first in the inbound direction and then in the outbound direction (at ground level). As the video shows, there’s still plenty of construction work that needs to happen, and the latest milestone is really only the first stage.


Source: tetsubakamovie on YouTube

A 20000 series local for Ikebukuro at the new elevated platform.


Source: hachikounet on YouTube

Now, some pictures the day before the opening (2010.02.06):
Source: http://thankyou2200.blog.so-net.ne.jp/



6000 series signed as a semi-express for Ikebukuro enters the station.



The newest trains to grace the Seibu Ikebukuro Line meet. A Seibu 30000 series “Smile Train” signed as an express meets up with a Tōkyō Metro 10000 series signed as a semi-express. This was the last day this platform was in use.



Another meet, between 6000 series rapid and a 20000 series local, both for Ikebukuro.



One last look leaving the ground-level platform and tracks…



The new track is ready, waiting to be connected.







Pictures on the first day (2010.02.07):
Source: http://thankyou2200.blog.so-net.ne.jp/

The now empty inbound platform.



The ramp up to the inbound elevated track.



Approaching Shakujii Kōen.





Bonus shot of Mt. Fuji in the early morning, taken from the new platform.





A Tōkyō Metro 10000 series train waits as a reserved-seat limited express overtakes it.





Ramp touch-down. The old track is at right.



Some more shots of the station (2010.02.08):
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/













Door location stickers, for two, three-, and four-door cars.

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