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Old April 11th, 2010, 09:08 PM   #1141
manrush
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What I've noticed about the new Skyliner trains is how massive they are.
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Old April 11th, 2010, 10:21 PM   #1142
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According to Wiki:

New Skyliner (AE series 2nd gen.)
Width: 2,794 mm
Height: 4,030 mm

Old Skyliner (AE series 1st gen.)
Width: 2,760 mm
Height: 4,050 mm

So basically, the new Skyliner is wider, but shorter. It's weird, because to me, the old Skyliner looks fatter, but that's probably because of the boxy ends.


Source: Wikipedia


Source: Wikipedia
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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:48 AM   #1143
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JR Kyūshū and Aeon sign electronic money deal
http://www.asahi.com/business/update...003290013.html

Quote:
Starting April 22, JR Kyūshū (HQ: Fukuoka City) and big-name distributor Aeon (HQ: Chiba City) will launch a special cooperative deal in the field of electronic money. When shopping at any of the approx. 200 Aeon-operated retail facilities in Kyūshū, shoppers will be able to use JR Kyūshū’s IC farecard SUGOCA, which comes with electronic money functionality. The two are currently examining the possibility of allowing use of Aeon’s WAON electronic money card on JR Kyūshū in the future.

JR Kyūshū president Karaike Kōji made the announcement on the afternoon of March 29 at a press conference in Fukuoka City.

SUGOCA was released last year, and the total number of cards in circulation is approx. 300,000. The number of affiliated stores accepting SUGOCA cards for payment is approx. 1,100. Mutual interoperability with other IC farecard systems—namely, Nishi-Nippon Railroad’s nimoca, the Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau’s Hayakaken, and JR East’s Suica—began this month. SUGOCA will now also be accepted at over 100 Aeon-operated stores in Kyūshū.

Aeon’s WAON electronic money card has a nationwide circulation of approx. 13.40 million cards, and is accepted at a total of approx. 5,000 stores.
The quote about possible use of WAON on JR Kyūshū is interesting… I believe this would mark the first time an exclusively non-railway related IC card is used for transport operations in Japan.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:49 AM   #1144
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JR Kyūshū turns to blue lighting at grade crossings
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/ne...OYT1T00571.htm

Quote:
In an effort to curb the jump in suicides at grade crossings, JR Kyūshū (HQ: Fukuoka City) has installed experimental blue lighting, believed to have a calming effect on people, at a portion of its grade crossings.

There is no scientific proof yet establishing the effect of the color blue on the human psyche, but suicides have dropped at other railway companies that have already installed the special lighting.

Up until now, JR Kyūshū has been erecting fences and increasing white light on sections where suicides occur more frequently. But in the midst of a long-term recession, the number of suicides in FY2009 at grade crossings under its jurisdiction reached approx. 50, a jump from 22 the previous year. Suicide attempts were particularly frequent in the evening periods.

As a result, in late March the railway installed blue-colored fluorescent and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting systems at a total of 20 locations in Fukuoka and Ōita Prefectures, including seven locations on the Kagoshima Line between Kyūsan Dai-mae and Hakozaki Stations in Higashi Ward, Fukuoka City, where there have been five suicides in the past three years. The railway has been operating the lighting systems from sunset to sunrise.

Blue lighting has been garnering attention ever since Glasgow in the United Kingdom installed it in street poles in 2000 and observed a drop in criminal activity. Within Japan as well, installations of blue lighting are becoming more common by neighborhood associations and other entities as a crime deterrent.

Among railway companies, JR West introduced blue lighting in December 2006, and currently has approx. 60 installations. JR West representatives emphasized the impact of the installations: “At all grade crossings where we installed the lighting, we haven’t seen suicides in a year or so.”

JR East began installing the lighting in February 2009 starting with three stations on the Takasaki Line, and now has them also running on platforms at two stations on the Chūō Line and all 29 stations on the Yamanote Line. Keihin Electric Express Railway had also completed installations at a total of 11 locations including stations and grade crossings as of February of this year.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), railway service disruptions as a result of suicides are increasing annually, with 647 cases across the country in FY2008. Trains and passengers upstream of accidents can be substantially delayed, and the MLIT’s request to railway companies to devise ways to prevent against suicides is helping accelerate installation of blue lighting.

Chief researcher Takahashi Mizuki of the Japan Color Psychology Research Center (HQ: Kōbe City) says, “The relationship between color and people’s psyche isn’t something that can be proven by science. But, it’s clear that the color blue has a calming effect on people and alleviates our anxiety. I am hopeful that it can help curb suicide attempts.”

JR Kyūshū plans to analyze the effect of the installations within three years. The Office for Technological Studies under JR Kyūshū’s Railway Operations Department says, “I hope we can get others to see the significance of blue lighting and make it an opportunity for all of society to think about how we can prevent suicides.”
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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:50 AM   #1145
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New station building and station plaza for Kumamoto Station revealed
http://mytown.asahi.com/kumamoto/new...00001003290001

Quote:
In regards to the construction of the new station building and East Exit station plaza at JR Kumamoto Station in preparation for the complete opening of the Kyūshū Shinkansen in March of next year, on March 27 Kumamoto Prefecture revealed conceptual images of the completed station building and station plaza. The design draws a harmony between a station building reminiscent of Kumamoto Castle’s stone walls and a station plaza featuring canopies in the shape of clouds in the sky. Full completion of the project is scheduled for FY2018.

The station building is designed by architect Andō Tadao. The exterior wall features a unique curve design known as musha-gaeshi, used in Kumamoto Castle for its ability to repel enemy attacks. The station’s platforms make abundant use of wood, inviting visitors and tourists to a “metropolis in the forest.” Construction cost is approx. ¥2.3 billion, and the national government, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kumamoto City, and JR will now decided on how to split the funding share.

The East Exit station plaza will feature canopies placed in coordination with the location of the tram stop and taxi zone, allowing users to easily find shelter from the sun and rain. The canopies feature accented curves in the shape of floating clouds, and will be supported by columns, without walls. Designer Nishizawa Ryue says, “By using only columns, I hope to make this an open urban space.”

Shirakawa Exit on the east, Shinkansen exit on the west
An “executive conference” attended by Governor Kabashima Ikuo, Kumamoto City mayor Kōyama Seishi, and JR Kyūshū president Karaike Kōji, was held on March 27 inside a hotel in Kumamoto City. JR announced that it would rename the “East Exit” and “West Exit” at the new station to the “Shirakawa Exit” and “Shinkansen Exit,” respectively.

In a public naming contest for the West Exit sponsored by the prefectural and city governments, many respondents requested names reminiscent of Kumamoto, including “Ariake Exit” and “Kasuga Exit,” but Karaike explained, “We selected a name that would be easy for visitors from outside Kumamoto to understand.”

Some more renderings:
Source: Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun

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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:51 AM   #1146
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New station building at JR Kurume Station completed
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/fuk...OYT8T00928.htm

Quote:
In preparation for the the opening next March of the full length of the Kagoshima route of the Kyūshū Shinkansen, the new station building at JR Kurume Station in Kurume City, set to become a stop on the Shinkansen, was completed, and opened to the public on April 3. The new station building features a tourist information center and a store selling local products, and many are hoping it becomes a new base for activity and exchange.

The new station building is a three-story steel-frame structure with a gross floor area of 3,510 sq m. The non-Shinkansen platforms are on the first floor, while the Shinkansen platforms and other facilities, still under construction and scheduled for completion in October, are located on the third floor. The second floor of the station features the ticketing hall and a public passage (100 m long, 10 m wide) connecting the station exits on the east and west, as well as a shop specializing in locally-produced goods.

In the arched roof of the public passage is a stained glass installation consisting of 11 rectangular pieces (4.2 to 5.4 m tall, 2.4 m wide) based on a theme of the four seasons, featuring images of city landmarks, festivals, and flowers. The east and west entrances also feature circular stained glass installations, promising to become a trademark of the station. For the time being, only the East Exit of the public passage will be in use, with the West Exit expected to open in early June.

The shop specializing in locally-produced goods is managed by the Kurume Regional Industry Promotion Center (Jibasan Kurume). The shop features about 500 unique items including Kurume-style rāmen, sake, and Kurume-style dyed fabrics, and is connected to a city tourist information center. The yakitori musubi, a new item made using chickens raised in Fukuoka Prefecture, are so popular they sell out only thirty minutes after the store opens.

Daily entries and exits at the station are currently 10,000. Sunagawa Hanayo (35), a housewife from Chūōmachi, said, “The interior is amazing, and it’s nice and open. I can’t wait for the Shinkansen to open.”

Within Fukuoka Prefecture, the new Hakata Station building (JR Hakata City) is scheduled to open with the opening of the full length of the Kyūshū Shinkansen Kagoshima route in March of next year. Construction is also proceeding at breakneck pace at Chikugo Funagoya Station (Chikugo City) and Shin-Ōmuta Station, both stops on the Shinkansen, for an opening later this fall, and facility construction for the new Shinkansen line is in the home stretch.

Source: http://angelgarden.yoka-yoka.jp/

Set 1:
Source: http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/

East Exit, parts of which are still in “construction mode.”



Public passage. At center are the staffed ticket counters and a JR Kyūshū travel agency office.



Hiding behind the white panels is what will be the future Shinkansen faregates.



Here, the white panels are hiding the transfer faregates between non-Shinkansen and Shinkansen trains.



Peering from the other side of the glass at the Shinkansen station concourse.



Set 2:
Source: http://blog.livedoor.jp/salam817gokase1124/

The old station building will now be demolished.





The West Exit is still under construction and closed for the moment.



Waiting room. In addition to the future Shinkansen service, JR Kyūshū runs a fair number of premium-fare limited express trains at the station.



Station concourse





Set 3:
Source: http://yukimari21.exblog.jp/





Tourist information center and specialty shop







Closer look at some of the stained glass pieces:
Source: http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/norimiyahara/









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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:52 AM   #1147
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Improvement at JR Uto Station complete
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/kum...OYT8T00040.htm

Quote:
In preparation for the full opening of the Kyūshū Shinkansen in spring of next year, construction work on the land readjustment project in the area around JR Uto Station, with the goal of creating a new gateway for Uto City, was recently completed.

With community development subsidies from the national government, Uto City began the project in 2004 and proceeded with work on the two main elements of the project: construction of the so-called “120 m road” directly linking National Route 3 with the station, and creation of a new station plaza. Other improvements included a Station West Multi-Purpose Plaza designed to improve the transport environment on the west side of the station, an east-west public passage spanning the non-Shinkansen tracks to increase pedestrian convenience, and a 315-space parking garage underneath the Shinkansen viaduct.

The city’s Urban Planning Section says, “In order to make the most of the Shinkansen’s benefits, we are hoping to take advantage of the prime location just ten minutes from Kumamoto Station to increase the convenience of commuting to work and school in Fukuoka.”
Uto is a small station on the Kagoshima Main Line and Misumi Line. Daily entries are 1,700 (2006).

Pictures:

West Exit station building


Source: Wikipedia


Source: http://artcool.exblog.jp/


Source: http://artcool.exblog.jp/


Source: http://artcool.exblog.jp/

East Exit station building


Source: Wikipedia

East Exit area


Source: Wikipedia

East Exit plaza


Source: http://ameblo.jp/wc-blog2/


Source: http://ameblo.jp/wc-blog2/


Source: http://ameblo.jp/wc-blog2/
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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:53 AM   #1148
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Tour inside JR Hakata City
http://mytown.asahi.com/fukuoka/news...00621003290001

Quote:
JR Hakata City—the new Hakata Station building set to debut next spring together with the opening of the completed Kyūshū Shinkansen. Work on the exterior walls is proceeding, and around May, the 60 m tall exterior will finally reveal itself. On March 10, I ventured inside, where the sound of hammers pounding still resounded.

First, we make our way to the rooftop garden, 50 m up. Climbing up to the observation deck at 55 m, visitors can see not only Fukuoka’s cityscape, but also as far as Genkaijima Island in Hakata Bay. On the opposite side, visitors are afforded views of planes lifting off from Fukuoka Airport, visible down to the aircraft markings.

The new building has a place where visitors can stare down at the tracks from straight above behind a glass floor. Railfans who toured the building last summer were infinitely pleased, saying they plan to come visit the spot with lunch in hand.

Heading down to the ninth floor of the building, a small cleft in the flooring holds a footbath. The second floor of the building will house an 11-screen cinema complex, while adjacent to it is another observation room facing the south side of the station, with two windows 2.3 m tall and 1.5 m wide each. Visitors can watch the array of Shinkansen, limited express, and regular trains beneath their very eyes. “It’s just like an N-gauge railway model, no?” chuckles the project manager for JR Kyūshū.

Work was proceeding on the exterior walls for the restaurant section on the same floor. The concrete panels, lifted by crane, swayed side-to-side in the snowy gusts. A construction worker, standing at the border between floor and sky, grabbed the panel and pulled it in.

The Hakata Hankyū Department Store fills the core of the building, from Basement Level 1 to Level 8. The ceilings on each floor feature AC equipment, glistening in silver. After passing through the newly-constructed ticketing hall on the third floor is the entrance to the Hankyū Department Store. The escalators in the store have already been installed, and directly beneath them are Platform No. 3 and No. 4.

On the second-floor deck on the Hakata Exit side are two 4.7 m tall columns, experimental pieces used to finalize the exterior finishes of the building. The granite surface has a different depth of color, a different texture on each column, a test between polishing the stone or melting the surface by burner. For a building as big as this, there can be no mistakes, and decisions are made with full-scale tests.

On Basement Level 1, they have begun digging the connecting entrance to the subway station concourse, and an underground passage connecting to Canal City Fukuoka will also be constructed. The underground network beneath the new station building is set to become a new central base for exploring Fukuoka.

JR Hakata City
Spans ten aboveground floors and three belowground floors, with a gross floor area of approx. 200,000 sq m and sales floor area reaching approx. 80,000 sq m. The building will feature the Hakata Hankyū Department Store, specialty retail facility Amu Plaza Hakata featuring approx. 200 stores including Tōkyū Hands and a cinema complex, and underground restaurant mall Hakata Ichiban-gai. Other tenants include a satellite campus of Kyūshū University and an event hall, and many anticipate the station building will become a new hotspot for information creation and transmission. Daily usage of the facilities is estimated at 100,000, and Hakata Terminal Building Co. projects a yearly sales volume of ¥60 billion to ¥70 billion.
A few pics of the exterior (2010.04.06):
Source: http://ameblo.jp/maimai24/







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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:54 AM   #1149
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Okayama Station West Exit transport plaza construction update

Okayama Station is the central terminal for Okayama City and the largest station in the Chūgoku region of Japan. The station is served by the San’yō Shinkansen, San’yō Main Line, Uno Line, Tsuyama Line, Kibi Line, Akō Line, and the Hakubi Line, as well as the Okayama Electric Tramway.

There have been many changes at this station in the past few years, including improvements to platform / track layout, a new elevated station concourse, and construction of an east-west public passage. The most recent work still ongoing is the construction of a transport plaza on the West Side of the station.

First set, from 2010.04.02:
Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/





On the second-level deck…



The taxi pickup zone on the second level is already open.



Wooden canopy above the second level.



East-west public passage.



Ground-level beneath the deck.



The private vehicle pick-up / drop-off area is also open already.



Bus terminal is under construction.



Second set (2010.04.04):
Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/watermelondandy/

West Exit







Entrance / exit for the private vehicle pick-up / drop-off.



Taxi pool

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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:56 AM   #1150
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JR West president hints at abandonment of small local lines
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20...07-fsi-bus_all

Quote:
At an April 5 press conference, JR West president Sasaki Takayuki revealed that the railway has begun looking at the possibility of abandoning a portion of its small local lines operating in the red and converting them to bus operations. Sasaki did not identify which lines are specifically being targeted, but said that the railway had already sounded out affected local jurisdictions about the feasibility of abandoning lines and converting them to buses.

In regards to the company’s strategy for local lines in the red, Sasaki remarked, “I feel it is an extremely critical business issue.” He pointed out that there are many lines where stations are outside of urbanized neighborhoods and hospitals.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:57 AM   #1151
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San’yō to revoke Type 2 railway business within Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway
http://holdings.hankyu-hanshin.co.jp...01003301N2.pdf

Quote:
Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway Co., Ltd., Hankyū Corporation, San’yō Electric Railway Co., Ltd., Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd., and Kōbe Electric Railway Co., Ltd. (Shintetsu)—together, herein referred to as “the five railway companies”—began service on the Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway (Kōbe Rapid Transit Lines) Tōzai Line and Namboku Line in 1968, and since then, the five railway companies have coordinated together to operate service on these lines. In conjunction with a reevaluation of the operating structure of the Kōbe Rapid Transit Lines, on March 30 Hankyū Corporation and San’yō Electric Railway Co., Ltd. have submitted applications to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to abolish a portion or all of their Type 2 railway businesses.

This change is only an amendment to our railway business franchises, and there will be no change to the extent of through-service operations by Hankyū, Hanshin, San’yō, and Shintetsu, and no changes to train schedules for the five railway companies. With ensuring passenger convenience as a priority, the five railway companies will continue to coordinate in providing service as we have always done.

Changes to railway business franchise
  • Hankyū Corporation: Revocation of Type 2 railway business between Shinkaichi and Nishidai on the Kōbe Rapid Transit Lines Tōzai Line, currently suspended.
  • San’yō Electric Railway Co., Ltd.: Revocation of Type 2 railway business across the full length of the Kōbe Rapid Transit Lines Tōzai Line.
The Type 2 railway businesses currently operated by Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd. and Kōbe Electric Railway Co., Ltd. will continue.

Date of revocation of business
FY2010

Railway business types (for reference)
  • Type 1: A business involving the transport of passengers or freight via railway (excepting Type 2 business).
  • Type 2: A business involving the transport of passengers or freight via railway using trackage outside of trackage owned by the company.
  • Type 3: A business that constructs railway track and permits use of the applicable track in whole by an entity operating a Type 2 railway business.
This may be the first step in placing the Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway under complete ownership of Hankyū-Hanshin Holdings. The Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway is unusual as it was constructed to link four private railways and their main terminals in Kōbe (Hankyū Sannomiya, Hanshin Sannomiya, San’yō Nishidai, and Shintetsu Minatogawa). The company does not own any rolling stock, and operation of the line is carried out by through-servicing trains from each of the four private railways.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:58 AM   #1152
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Hankyū expands station passenger amenities
http://holdings.hankyu-hanshin.co.jp...01002252N1.pdf

Quote:
Hankyū Corporation has been striving to provide quality services to our customers, and with our 100th anniversary on March 10, we will continue gradually expanding our station facilities to create more secure, safer, and more comfortable stations for our passengers. A total of 85 stations (including Settsu-shi Station opening March 14) are targeted in this program, excepting Tenjinbashisuji Rokuchōme Station and stations on the Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway.

More secure and safer stations
  1. Installation of security cameras
    We will install security cameras with recording capabilities at all stations.
    Installation location: Near the faregates, inside the concourse and elevators, and on platforms at each stations
    Installation period: Gradually, starting February 2010 (Installation of cameras near the faregates at all stations—85 stations, approx. 280 units—will be completed by December 2010)
  2. Installation of ”see-through wickets”
    We will relocate the customer reception functions currently at the service counters at 16 of our major stations to new locations next to the faregates as “see-through wickets.” At these tickets, we will offer various tickets for sale, allowing passengers to approach staff with questions at ease and without the need to pass through the faregates.
    Stations to receive installations: 16 stations, 19 locations
    • Umeda (4 locations), Jūsō
    • Kōbe Line: Tsukaguchi, Nishinomiya Kitaguchi, Shukugawa, Sannomiya
    • Takarazuka Line: Toyonaka, Ishibashi, Kawanishi Noseguchi, Takarazuka
    • Kyōto Line: Awaji, Ibaraki-shi, Takatsuki-shi, Katsura, Kawaramachi, Kita-Senri
    Installation period: Gradually, starting April 2011
  3. Installation of multi-functional interphones
    In order to allow us to receive customers at ticketing halls while station staff are out on patrols, we will install multi-functional interphones at ticketing gates at all stations, allowing station staff to communicate with customers through video phones. Staff will be able to confirm ticket faces and handle IC-card related issues remotely, allowing us to meet the needs of our customers.
    Installation location: Ticketing halls at each station (excepting some stations), with one unit each inside and outside the paid area of the station (85 stations, approx. 260 units)
    Start of service: April 2011
  4. Installation of “passenger information displays”
    We will install “passenger information displays” at the ticketing halls at all stations, providing accurate and up-to-date service information to passengers in the event of service disruptions, including service delays and affected lines. When service is operating normally, the displays will provide passengers with a wide range of information including sightseeing spots along our rail lines and special ticket campaigns.
    Installation location: Near the ticketing halls at each station (a minimum of one unit each inside and outside the paid area of stations) (85 stations, approx. 150 units)
    Start of service: April 2011
    Screen size: Depending on installation location (standard is 42 in wide)
  5. Establishment of new “Hankyū Corporation Transport Information Center” (General Telephone Reception Center)
    We currently receive phone calls from our customers concerning our railway business at service centers at sixteen stations, as well as the telephone center at Umeda Station, but we will now consolidate these functions at a new “Hankyū Corporation Transport Information Center.”
    This center will respond to customers questions regarding a wide variety of our services, including railway fares, train schedules, lost personal items, special campaign tickets, and station facilities.
    Installation period: April 2011
    Hours of service: 9:00-22:00 (weekdays), 9:00-19:00 (Saturdays, Sundays, holidays)
  6. Installation of AED units
    In regards to the AED units currently installed at all stations with service centers, we will expand installation to all stations.
    Installation location: 85 stations, 88 units (currently 16 stations, 17 units)
    Installation period: March 2010


Passenger information display

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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:00 AM   #1153
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Hankyū still uncommitted to Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Line extension
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/po...0824001-n1.htm

Quote:
There is a widening gap in receptiveness between the public and private sectors over the proposed extension of the Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō (Kitakyū) Line to Minoo City, Ōsaka Prefecture, with a target opening date in 2018. While Minoo City is making steadfast progress in preparation for the extension, including holding citizen workshops, the railway company that would eventually operate the extension is indecisive on the proposal, fearing poor profitability. Ōsaka Prefecture governor Hashimoto Tōru has pledged his support for the plan, but the prospects for the extension are as yet unclear.

The Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Line interfaces with the Ōsaka Municipal Subway Midōsuji Line, connecting central Ōsaka with Ōsaka Prefecture’s northern area. The plan would extend the line from Senri Chūō (Toyonaka City) north 2.5 km, with two new stations at Minoo Senba and Shin-Minoo (temporary names) and eight-minute headways throughout the day.

In 1989, a national council identified the extension as “appropriate for construction start by 2005,” but the Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō Railway (Kitakyū) and its parent company Hankyū Corporation are questioning the profitability of the line. As a result, the proposal has laid dormant for many years. Minoo City convinced the related agencies and succeeded in obtaining a memorandum of understanding in 2008 between the Prefectural Government, Minoo City, and the two railways companies to work with the national government to hammer out the details of the extension.

In November 2009, an improvement plan that evaluated the operating plan for trains on the extension had been compiled, and daily entries and exits for the two stations were forecasted at approx. 52,000. In addition to improving access to the Saito area, the extension would hopefully further redistribute demand, relieving congestion on National Route 423 (Shin-Midōsuji Route).

For Minoo City, the extension is a long-awaited dream, and the city has published pamphlets that read, “We are making progress towards the opening of the extension in eight years.” To raise local interest in the project, the city held workshops at five locations in February.

In the midst of all this, Governor Hashimoto, who has been trumpeting the closure of Ōsaka (Itami) International Airport, gave his thumb of approval to the project as a means of improving access to Kansai International Airport from northern Ōsaka Prefecture. After the governor suggested that he would give his full support to the extension if the Minoo City Council agreed to the closure of Itami Airport, the City Council voted to support the closure of Itami at its March session.

While the public sector is in full gear with the project, however, the railway companies, expected to be required to contribute around ¥17.9 billion to the extension, have yet to join the party. “As long as there is no determination of the effects of the extension on our nearby Senri Line and Minoo Line, and no consideration of countermeasures, we aren’t ready to participate in the decision-making process,” says Hankyū, who says its participation in the project has “yet to be finalized.”

According to the improvement plan, the base fare was set at a low ¥140 to ¥150, but Kitakyū is noncommittal: “We need to scrutinize the project, including looking at how the fare structure would change based on project scheme and ridership trends.” The railway has not denied the possibility that the base fare in actual service would be higher.

After examining the current situation, one top city official for a local government in northern Ōsaka Prefecture was hopeful of Governor Hashimoto’s power: “If we don’t advance the project during the governor’s term, it will never happen.”
MBS news report on Minoo City’s approval of the closure of Itami and the Kitakyū extension (2010.03.18):


Source: samthavasa1162 on YouTube
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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:01 AM   #1154
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JR West opens renovated tenant building at Wakayama Station
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/kink...0236000-n1.htm

Quote:
On March 31, the JR Wakayama Station tenant building, closed since the end of last year, reopened as large-scale retail facility Wakayama MIO. Targeting women in their late teens and twenties who are keen on fashion, the facility hopes to draw customers not only from Wakayama Prefecture but also the Ōsaka area. Could Wakayama’s “new face” bring a breath of vitality to a struggling urban neighborhood?

Approximately 1,800 visitors who had been waiting for this day assembled outside the station on March 31. A smiling Michibata Yuri (18) from Kainan City, who will become a full-fledged member of society starting in April, said, “There’s a lot of shops that used to only be in Ōsaka, so it’s really convenient.” Wakayama MIO was bustling with female customers looking for the perfect outfit.

A total of 60 shops have taken up space in MIO, including 31 fashion shops, some of which are making their first entry into the Wakayama area. MIO also features a drugstore, bookstore, a store specializing in Wakayama products, and a supermarket, enhancing the functions of the typical station tenant building.

Meanwhile, some hope that MIO will be the ace up the sleeve for the revitalization of urban neighborhoods. In central Wakayama City, stores have been closing and people leaving since 1998. In 1999, the Wakayama Medical University Hospital moved to Kimiidera, followed by the successive closure of the Marushō Department Store and movie theatres. Forté Wajima opened three years ago, bringing some activity back to the area, but weekend pedestrian traffic in Burarichō is a mere half of what it was in 2000.

As a result, the city is calling on citizens to participate in the urban development process, including encouraging students to visit the commercial district. This year, the city will host a crafts fair on the main street outside the station on the third Saturday of every month, where citizens can gather to sell original accessories. The city’s neighborhood promotion section says the fair targets the same customers as MIO and is hoping for a synergistic effect with the new station tenant building.

This summer, the city also plans to introduce a bicycle rental program to connect Wakayama Station and sightseeing areas such as Kiimidera Temple. The neighborhood promotion section says, “We hope to transform this new infusion of foot traffic into revitalization for central Wakayama City and increase tourism.”
A couple pictures:
Source: http://ameblo.jp/yuasasyouyu/



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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:02 AM   #1155
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MLIT pegs KIX maglev cost at ¥1.5 trillion
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/osa...OYT8T00103.htm

Quote:
In regards to Governor Hashimoto’s proposal to link Kansai International Airport (KIX) and central Ōsaka City in seven minutes by a new maglev line, it has been revealed that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has estimated the project costs at approx. ¥1.5 trillion. The MLIT estimate is approx. three times Ōsaka Prefecture’s estimate of ¥490 billion and further calls into doubt the feasibility of the proposal.

According to officials, the results of the preliminary financial analysis were revealed late last month when MLIT Minister Maehara was having in-person discussions with top Democratic Party of Japan leaders in Ōsaka’s Prefectural Assembly. The proposal calls for closing Ōsaka (Itami) International Airport and using the revenue earned from selling the airport land towards construction of the maglev, but Minister Maehara expressed his belief that “the sale of land at Itami is far from enough to cover the financial resources needed to improve access (to KIX).”

Meanwhile, the MLIT has estimated that the project costs for the Naniwasuji Line proposal, connecting KIX and central Ōsaka City in 30 to 40 minutes by a typical rail line, would be at least approx. ¥200 billion.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:03 AM   #1156
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Groundbreaking for Phase 1 of Umeda North Yard development
http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/eco/news/...OYO8T00259.htm

Quote:
Construction for Phase 1 of the Umeda North Yard (approx. 24 ha), the last sizeable chunk of premier land in central Ōsaka, began on March 31. The project will transform the area into a center for cutting-edge research and development, offices, and retail, but will it be enough to become a catalyst for the revitalization of Ōsaka and the Kansai area?

Phase 1 of the project involves redevelopment of the former freight yard on the north side of JR Ōsaka Station and covers approx. 7 ha on the east side of the Umeda North Yard area. The grand opening for Phase 1 was originally scheduled for spring 2011, but as a result of changes to the development plans, the scheduled completion was pushed back by approximately two years to March 2013.

The project is composed of four high-rise buildings ranging from 33 to 48 stories tall, anchored by the “Knowledge Capital,” a research hub sponsored by industry, academia, and the public sector. Inside a 88,200 sq m (gross) facility, over 40 firms including Panasonic, the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, and Kokuyo will establish research facilities and showrooms. Research subjects will include the development of handheld units capable of voice-recognition multilingual translation and robots to assist in feeding patients, and will aim to take advantage of the facility’s location in busy central Ōsaka by incorporating the sensitivity and responses of general users in research and development.

Among the twelve-firm corporate syndicate handling the Phase 1 development is ORIX Real Estate. ORIX Chairman Nishina Hiroaki remarked, “The North Yard redevelopment is a golden opportunity to get everyone to rethink Ōsaka. Corporations from around the globe will gather in Ōsaka to incorporate the best technologies, developed inside the Knowledge Capital.” Since autumn of last year, tours by French local governments, city officials from Seoul, Korea, and others have been held in succession, hinting at the foreign interest in the project.

The delay in the economic recovery of the Kansai region, however, remains a source of uncertainty for the project. With the completion of Phase 1 of the development, 236,800 sq m of new office space will hit the market. Within Ōsaka City, however, offices are continuing to downsize or close down, and with the completion of buildings planned several years ago, there is an oversupply of office buildings. “With a glut of office space, there will be few corporations looking to lease space in the expensive North Yard area, regardless of its cachet,” say some real estate experts.

In addition to office, a retail facility focusing on specialty stores, with 87,000 sq m of sales floor area, is also part of the plans, but in 2011 just a stone’s-throw away, the JR Ōsaka Mitsukoshi–Isetan Department Store will debut to the public and the Daimaru Umeda Department Store will expand its sales floor area by 50 percent. The replacement of Hankyū Department Stores’ Umeda flagship store will be completed in 2012, further heating up an unavoidable battle.

Yamaguchi Shūichi, Chief of the Project Promotion Office at Mitsubishi Estate’s Ōsaka Branch Office, says, “The office space will be directly connected to the station and thus, extremely convenient. The retail facility will also have a unique flair, including shops that appeal to specific lifestyles, separating itself from the competition between department stores. However, Yamaguchi did not reveal the names of tenants in the new retail facility.

Plans for the Phase 2 development (approx. 17 ha), targeted for an opening ten years from now, are gradually focusing on a proposal to develop a center for green technology, but another proposal calls for construction of an 80,000-seat stadium. As a result, a complete vision for Phase 2 has yet to be developed. The ability of the North Yard to become an active area depends on a detailed vision for the neighborhood and the ability to increase the area’s position as a source of information and products.
MBS news report:


Source: sd345t on YouTube

The following firms are part of the development team for Phase 1:
  • NTT Urban Development Co.
  • Ōbayashi Corp.
  • ORIX Real Estate Corp.
  • Kanden Fudōsan Co.
  • Nippon Steel City Produce, Inc.
  • The Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co., Ltd.
  • Sekisui House, Ltd.
  • Takenaka Corp.
  • Tōkyō Tatemono Co., Ltd.
  • Nippon Tochi-Tatemono Co., Ltd.
  • Hankyū Corporation
  • Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd.

Renderings:

Rightmost tower is Block A, and is closest to Ōsaka Station (you can see the silhouette of Ōsaka Station City at the bottom right corner). The middle two towers are Block B, the leftmost tower is Block C.


Source: Hankyū-Hanshin Holdings


Source: Ōsaka Station North Area Urban Planning Committee

Knowledge Capital


Source: Hankyū-Hanshin Holdings

Ōsaka Station North Exit Plaza


Source: Hankyū-Hanshin Holdings


Source: Ōsaka Station North Area Urban Planning Committee

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



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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:03 AM   #1157
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Umeda Hankyū Building east entrance open

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









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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:05 AM   #1158
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JR West president pledges over ¥100 billion in safety-related investment for FY2010
http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/news/20100408-OYO1T00523.htm

Quote:
Before the five-year mark since the JR Fukuchiyama Line derailment that killed 106 passengers, on April 7 JR West president Sasaki Takayuki (63) responded to an interview with Yomiuri Shimbun, expressing his plan to expend over ¥100 billion this year on safety-related investments, the largest such expenditure in the railway’s history.

Regarding the derailment, Sasaki emphasized he will be “devoting his utmost efforts towards addressing the needs of victims’ families.”

For the five-year period between FY2008 and FY2012, JR West plans to spend approx. ¥430 billion towards safety-related investments. However, Sasaki says, “I want to increase our safety as quickly as possible, so we will be accelerating the schedule for some of these investments,” expressing his expectation that safety-related expenditures this fiscal year would surpass the approx. ¥95 billion for FY2009.

In addition to introducing new rolling stock built to reduce impact forces on passengers during collisions onto the Tōkaidō Line, Sasaki says the railway will install waist-high platform doors at the JR Tōzai Line’s Kita-Shinchi Station (Kita Ward, Ōsaka City). This is the railway’s first such endeavour for non-Shinkansen lines, and Sasaki says the platform doors will “help prevent accidents at stations with narrow platforms.” In addition, Sasaki revealed that the railway would create a DVD with videos of speeches by family members of victims who died in the Fukuchiyama Line derailment, and will continue internal screenings of the DVD to railway employees.

In response to last month’s decision by the Kōbe No. 1 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution to indict three former JR West presidents—Ide Masataka (75), Nan’ya Shōjirō (68) (currently a JR West contract employee), and Kakiuchi Takeshi (65)—Sasaki remarked that “public opinion has become more harsh, and people have lost faith in JR West. Sasaki said he plans to advance a three-principle business strategy that transforms the company’s dealings with victims, the railway’s safety record, and its internal corporate structure in order to regain passenger trust.

In regards to Ide, who has not been present at sessions with families of victims of the accident, Sasaki remarked, “I have requested that he make an appearance at the memorial ceremony on April 25, but have yet to receive a response.”
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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:05 AM   #1159
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Former JR West presidents indicted in Fukuchiyama Line derailment
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...003260096.html

Quote:
In the JR Takarazuka Line (Fukuchiyama Line) derailment in April 2005 that left 107 passengers dead and 562 injured, on March 26 the Kōbe No. 1 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution announced an “indictment resolution” that says three former JR West presidents should be charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury. The decision contrasts with the Kōbe District Public Prosecutors’ Office to drop charges against the three JR West ex-presidents. This marks the second instance of an indictment resolution under the Revised Act on Commitees for Inquest of Prosecution enacted in May 2009, following the case surrounding the pedestrian bridge collapse in Akashi City, Hyōgo Prefecture. An attorney selected by the court to act as public prosecutor will now file charges against the three ex-presidents before April, when the statute of limitations for professional negligence enters effect.

In the aftermath of the derailment, former JR West president Yamazaki Masao (66) has already been indicted without arrest, creating a situation where the criminal liability of four former top JR West executives is under scrutiny.

The three identified in the indictment resolution are former JR West chairmen Ide Masataka (74) and Nan’ya Shōjirō (68), and former JR West president Kakiuchi Takeshi (65).

The inquest committee says that Ide, under his business plan to increase revenues during his tenure as JR West president between 1996 and 1997, switched out a 600 m radius track curve for the sharp 304 m curve where the derailment occurred in order to streamline through-servicing between the Takarazuka Line and the Tōzai Line. The committee also says that Ide then substantially increased the number of new rolling stock, capable of approx. 120 kph, and says that Nan’ya and Kakiuchi inherited Ide’s business policy, increasing the number of rapid trains and decreasing headways between trains.

In addition, the committee points out that the three were aware that the track curve at the scene of the crime was especially dangerous, even compared to other track locations under JR West’s management, and had a cautionary duty to carefully examine the JR Hakodate Line derailment (which happened just before the curve was replaced) and direct subordinate staff to install an automatic train stop (ATS) system at the curve on the Takaruzka Line that became the scene of the derailment. “It is impossible to think that they had no knowledge of the danger of this curve. They were negligent in their duty to install ATS on this curve as their first priority,” concludes the indictment resolution.

Meanwhile, in July of last year the Kōbe District Public Prosecutors’ Office indicted only ex-president Yamazaki Masao, railway operations chief at the time of the derailment, for failing to install ATS when the curve was replaced in December 1996. The Kōbe District Public Prosecutors’ Office dropped charges against the three other ex-presidents, claiming, “They had no knowledge of the hazards of the curve as they had entrusted authority for the railway’s safety countermeasures to the railway operations chief.”

In regards to this claim, the inquest committee emphasizes that the three ex-presidents, as chief executives, were responsible for the implementation of the basic policy behind the railway’s safety countermeasures. The committee claims, “As JR West presidents, they directed the railway operations chief and served as chairmen of the company’s Comprehensive Strategic Committee on Safety, and as a result, were responsible for accident prevention. …The Hakodate Line derailment was published in papers across the country, but they took no responsive action whatsoever.” As a result, the committee judged that the three ex-presidents, as top executives members in JR West’s corporate structure, cannot escape criminal liability.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 07:08 AM   #1160
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Randen celebrates 100th anniversary
http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/article.ph...20100325000114

Quote:
On April 25, a commemorative ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Keifuku Electric Railroad (Randen) Arashiyama Line was held at Arashiyama Station. The railway revealed a new train repainted from the current two-tone livery of green and beige to a one-color paint scheme using “Kyōto purple,” and officials gathered to celebrate a milestone in Randen’s history.

Approx. 70 people attended the ceremony, including railway representatives, local residents, and government officials. Randen president Nishida Hiroshi remarked, “I want to express our gratitude that we have been able to operate for a century in one of Japan’s ancient capitals. With the help of local residents, I want to work towards making Randen known across the globe.” With a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the platforms, a tram painted in all purple was revealed, surrounded by applause from attendees.

Randen was founded in 1910 (Meiji 43) as the Arashiyama Electric Railroad between Shijō Ōmiya and Arashiyama, and has been popular among tourists and residents. In FY2010, the railway will initiate an array of anniversary programs, including planting cherry trees along the line and donating books to libraries.
Video of ceremony and tram repainted in new “Kyōto purple” livery:


Source: LUXE2008 on YouTube

In other Randen news, the railway launched its “cherry blossom tunnel” illumination program. This is on the Kitano Line between Narutaki and Utano Stations.


Source: plum1853 on YouTube
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