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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:09 AM   #1301
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Kyōto City looking for live musicians to perform inside subway stations
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/entertai...005040007.html

Quote:
Kyōto City is accepting applications until May 21 for musicians to perform inside Municipal Subway stations. Musicians must perform solo or in groups of two to three people and have their address, or the base of their musical activities, in Kyōto City.

Performance venues include a passage within the paid area of Karasuma Oike Station on the Tōzai Line or near the faregates at Kyōto Shiyakusho-mae Station. After passing the audition process (¥2,000 audition fee), selected musicians can perform in reserved time slots between 10:00 am and 9:00 pm.

The Kyōto Municipal Subway is carrying a large cumulative deficit and is aiming to increase daily ridership by 50,000 passengers as part of its financial rehabilitation plan. Will live music bring bright melodies for the subway’s budget?
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:09 AM   #1302
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70 percent of visitors to Nara Heijō-kyō festivities using public transportation
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/nar...OYT8T01264.htm

Quote:
Survey results published by Nara Prefecture on May 27 indicate that the likelihood is high that approx. 70 percent of the 544,000 total tourists that visted the Spring Fair (April 24-May 9) at the Heijō Palace Grounds Venue (Nara City), the main venue for the 1300th Anniversary of Heijō-kyō Capital, used public transportation to access the site. In regards to the lack of any outstanding traffic congestion in the vicinity of the venue, Nara Prefecture governor Arai said, “PR efforts before the event and the widening of roadways surrounding the venue have paid off well.”

The survey was conducted on two days: April 25, the second day the venue was opened, and May 2, during the Golden Week holiday period. Based on a questionnaire targeting 1,320 visitors at the venue, the Prefectural Government estimated the number of people who used the shuttle bus connecting Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji Station and JR Nara Station with the Palace Grounds Venue; the number of people who used the “park and ride” system, where drivers of private vehicles transfer to buses at three parking lots located in suburban areas; and the number of people who came on group charter buses.

According to the results of the survey, of the 98,000 total people who visited on the two selected survey days, 67,925 (69%) of visitors used trains or fixed-route buses—the highest of all access modes. Approx. 10,000 visitors (10%) used the park and ride bus system, while another 15,275 people (16%) walked on foot or used motorcycles or bicycles. Approx. 4,800 people (5%) used group charter buses.

In the vicinity of the venue, Sanjō Dōro (Sanjō Road) running east-west through Nara City was widened from two lanes to four lanes on March 24, and Ōmiya Dōro (Ōmiya Road) widened by one lane to six lanes. On May 2, one of the selected survey days, vehicle queues in the eastbound lanes at the Prefectural Route Nijō-Ōji-Minami intersection southwest of the venue only reached a maximum of 350 m, shorter than the 800 m queues observed during the tourist season (October 16, 2007).

Between March 27 and May 9, the Heijō-kyō Capital 1300th Anniversary Project Committee played radio announcements encouraging visitors to use public transportation to access the site a total of 619 times. At 23 locations along major roadways inside and outside Nara Prefecture, banners were strung across the road encouraging drivers to refrain from using their cars.
Some window views on Kintetsu limited express trains passing the site. Kintetsu and JR have the best access to the venue, and Kintetsu in particular has been trying hard to cash in, wrapping some of their trains in ads for the festival.
Source: seigen120kaihin on YouTube

First, a limited express from Kintetsu Nara to Ōsaka Namba.

Part 1: Nara – Yamato Saidaiji – Gakuen-mae
The venue makes an appearance starting at 3:20.



Part 2: Gakuen-mae – Ikoma – Tsuruhashi
Fantastic views of the Ōsaka skyline after coming out of the Mt. Ikoma tunnel starting at around 8:45. We also pass by grade-separation work on the Main Line starting at 11:45.



Part 3: Tsuruhashi – Ōsaka Uehonmachi – Ōsaka Namba



Next, a limited express on the Kintetsu Kyōto Line, from Kyōto to Kintetsu Nara.

Part 1: Kyōto – Tanbabashi – Yamato Saidaiji



Part 2: Yamato Saidaiji – Kintetsu Nara
We pass by the venue, facing in the other direction, at around 1:45.

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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:11 AM   #1303
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Fukui Railway — Echizen Railway through-service to begin in FY2013
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/fuk...OYT8T01338.htm

Quote:
On May 27, Fukui Prefecture revealed a plan to implement mutual through-servicing between Fukui Railway (HQ: Echizen City) and Echizen Railway (HQ: Fukui City). In the first phase of the project, the Fukui Railway would be connected to Echizen Railway at Tawaramachi Station (Fukui City) by FY2013, running through-service on the Echizen Railway for approx. 2.8 km to Nittazuka Station (Fukui City). In the next stage, the interlined section would be extended to Nishi-Nagata Station (Sakai City), approx. 9.6 km on the Echizen Railway, and Echizen Railway trains would also begin through-servicing onto the Fukui Railway.

At a “project scoping meeting” held inside Fukui City and attended by both railways and representatives from both the Fukui Prefectural Government and the Fukui City Government, the Prefectural Government explained the plan. According to the plan, the two railways would be connected at Tawaramachi Station, a station common to the two operators. In Phase 1, where Fukui Railway trains would through-service onto the Echizen Railway, five stations would be modified. The number of through-service trains would be two trains per hour maximum.

As Echizen Railway trains are wide, at approx. 2.8 m, they would not meet legal requirements for minimum spacing (40 cm) when passing by other trains on double-tracked sections of the Fukui Railway, and thus, cannot currently through-service. As a result, Echizen Railway will introduce three new trains, as well as modify five stations to realize through-servicing. The interlined section would stretch all the way to Nishi-Nagata Station, with the maximum through-service trains per hour at two in each direction.

The Prefectural Government plans to hold its second scoping meeting in July to get approval on the basic details of the project, presenting a detailed plan by January of next year.

However, the project cost—expected to be several billions of yen—is now the critical issue. At the May 27 scoping meeting, the Prefectural Government did not reveal estimates of the project cost. The expected benefit of increased ridership as a result of the through-servicing is also as yet unclear, and representatives of Echizen Railway said, “Let’s hope that this project will actually increase revenue, not just cost.”
Green lines are the Fukui Railway. The blue dotted line is the section of the Echizen Railway where Fukui Railway trains would interline in Phase 1.


Source: Chūnichi Shimbun
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:12 AM   #1304
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Official names for Sakura-dōri Line extension stations released
http://www.nikkei.com/news/local/art...F2F2F2F2F2F2F2

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On May 17, the Transportation Bureau of the City of Nagoya revealed the selected official names for the four new stations on the Sakura-dōri Subway Line extension currently under construction: Naruko-kita, Aioiyama, Kamisawa, and Tokushige. Spokespersons for the Transportation Bureau are eagerly anticipating the opening, hopeful that the new stations will generate some level of new ridership thanks to commuters to work and school. Daily average ridership on the extension after the opening is estimated at 19,000.

The extension stretches 4.2 km and is scheduled to open in March 2011. After opening, Tokushige and Nagoya Stations will be directly connected in approx. 30 minutes. Along the route of the extension in Midori Ward, transportation convenience is expected to increase, and the assessed value of land in the ward showed the highest rates of increase in the entire country for 2010 for both commercial land and residential land, speaking to the benefits of the new extension.

The Transportation Bureau broke ground on the project in February 2006. The cost of construction related to the extension is estimated at ¥75 billion. As part of the process on deciding final names for the stations, an investigative committee formed of university professors and local ward officials was established, and committee members have since been debating options.

The extensions will mark the latest opening of a new section on the Nagoya Municipal Subway, following the October 2004 opening of the Nagoya Daigaku – Aratamabashi section of the Meijō Line.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:13 AM   #1305
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Meitetsu makes preparations for redevelopment of Nagoya Station properties
http://www.kentsu.co.jp/chubu/news/p04574.html

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Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu; HQ: Mei-eki 1-2-4, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya City) is proceeding with preparations for redevelopment of Nagoya Station area facilities, involving Meitetsu Headquarters, Meitetsu Nagoya Station, the Meitetsu Department Store flagship store, and the Meitetsu Bus Center. The effort was revealed as a critical issue in its FY2009 Financials Summary released on May 12.

As part of the effort, the railway is looking to make active use of its assets, including reconstruction of office buildings it owns in the Nagoya Station area and redevelopment on railway-owned parcels. The railway will also reevaluate the direction of its distribution business, including the Meitetsu Department Store, and hotel business, including the Meitetsu Grand Hotel, as well as the functions of Meitetsu Nagoya Station and the Meitetsu Bus Center. The railway is looking to make progress on preparations for redevelopment in the station area.

In addition, in regards to the Meitetsu Headquarters, for which talks of replacement have been discussed before, the railway included making further progress on those efforts in its mid-range business plan (FY2009 to FY2011). With an eye towards JR Central’s opening of the Chūō Maglev Shinkansen, the railway hopes to improve the future profitability of its real estate business by replacing properties with good locations in the Mei-eki area.

Meitetsu Group’s main facilities in the Mei-eki area (the vicinity of Meitetsu Nagoya Station) include the Meitetsu Department Store flagship store (two belowground stories, ten aboveground stores), the Nagoya Railroad Headquarters, Meitetsu Grand Hotel, the Meitetsu Department Store Men’s Annex (one belowground story, 18 aboveground stories) housing the bus terminal, and the Meitetsu Department Store Young Annex (one belowground story, eleven aboveground stories). In particular, the Meitetsu Department Store Main Store was completed in 1957.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:15 AM   #1306
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JR Central reveals anchor tenant plan for redevelopment project near Nagoya Station
http://chubu.yomiuri.co.jp/news_k/ckei100520_1.htm

Quote:
JR Central announces anchor tenant plan
On May 19, JR Central formally announced plans to proceed with efforts aimed at securing specialized tenants for its Nagoya Station New Building Project scheduled for completion outside Nagoya Station in FY2016. In particular, the railway is looking at an annex expansion of the JR Nagoya Takashimaya department store, currently a tenant in the adjacent JR Central Towers, as well as a large home appliances retailer as the anchor tenants for the project. A slew of high-rise tower projects have been proposed for the Nagoya Station area, and the railway hopes to secure retail facilities with a high ability to attract customers as tenants, increasing the competitiveness of the building.

The new building involves the demolition of the Nagoya Terminal Building outside Nagoya Station and construction of a mixed-use retail, hotel, and office tower (approx. 220 m tall) on the site. The Matsuzakaya Nagoya Station department store currently in the Nagoya Terminal Building abandoned the idea of leasing space in the new building and has decided to close its doors at the end of August.

In the proposal for the new building announced by JR Central on May 19, retail facilities would span the first through 14th floors of the building, with a gross floor area of 110,000 sq m. At a press conference in Nagoya City, JR Central president Yamada Yoshiomi explained that the railway will now hammer out the details of the Takashimaya expansion, including the amount of additional floor area, with representatives from Takashimaya. Yamada also commented that the railway will afterwards “consider a wide range of options, including introducing specialty shops focusing on fashion and general goods.”

Takashimaya’s current sales floor area is approx. 57,000 sq m. Depending on the outcome of the expansion talks, there is a possibility the department store could surpass the floor area or total sales of the Matsuzakaya Nagoya department store, the largest in Japan with approx. 86,000 sq m of floor area. However, Yamada added that making the store the largest in the Nagoya area “was not of particular concern.” Yamada did not make reference to any specific home appliances retailer looking to lease space in the new building, but expressed his opinion that Takashimaya and the home appliances retailer would become the anchor tenants of the building. In addition to the retail tenants, a business hotel (approx. 350 rooms) operated by a JR Central hotel subsidiary and daycare facilities are also planned for the new building.

The current building will close its doors at the end of September, with demolition work beginning in early December, forcing the Nagoya Municipal Bus terminal currently housed in the building to relocate to temporary bus stops in the surrounding area.

In regards to JR Central’s plans for a new building, on May 19 spokespersons for major home appliances retailers including Yamada Denki, Yodobashi Camera, and Edion all said they could not comment on the issue. However, eyes are on the retailers, who have demonstrated a strong desire to open up shop in a prime location. Spokespersons for Yamada Denki said, “If we find the conditions to be acceptable, we are always considering entering the market.”

Japan Post delays redevelopment project outside Nagoya Station
On May 19, Japan Post Holdings revealed its intentions to delay the redevelopment project planned on the site of the former Nagoya Central Post Office (Nakamura Ward, Nagoya City).

The redevelopment project called for demolition of the former Nagoya Central Post Office, located immediately north of the Nagoya Station New Building (temporary name) being planned by JR Central, within the fiscal year, and construction of a 41-story mixed-use building to be completed in FY2013. However, the recovery of office demand is still uncertain, and JP Holdings opted to push back the completion of the project several years.

On May 18, JP Holdings also announced a delay for the debut of the redevelopment project being planned for the Ōsaka Central Post Office. Together with the Tōkyō Central Post Office, redevelopment of the three Central Post Offices in the heart of each city has been pursued as the symbolic path for the new JP Holdings after privatization by former JP president Nishikawa Yoshifumi, but both the Ōsaka and Nagoya plans have now been delayed.
Building just right of center is the Nagoya Station New Building, while building at far right is the Nagoya Central Post Office redevelopment.


Source: Meieki Keizai Shimbun
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:15 AM   #1307
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Toyota-shi Station project receives MLIT award
http://chubu.yomiuri.co.jp/news_kan/kan100515_6.htm

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The Toyota-shi Station Area Revitalization Project, which received funding from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) Urban Planning Grant Program designed to support urban revitalization, has received the Fifth Urban Planning Grant Program Award (MLIT Minister’s Award). The grant program was launched in FY2004 and has supported projects in 1,703 neighborhoods across Japan. The Toyota City project is already complete, but the spokespersons for the city were pleased: “This is proof that the success of our project was the mostly highly appraised in Japan.”

The Revitalization Project aimed to “reconstruct pedestrian space” in 211 ha of land surrounding Toyota-shi Station. The project lasted for five years starting in FY2004, and out of a total project cost of ¥4.21 billion, ¥1.684 billion came from grants.

The focus of the project was improvement of the Takyō Route (920 m in total length) stretching from National Route 153 to the Toyota – Norisada route. The project area was broken down into four zones with committees for each, and deliberations proceeded. In addition to undergrounding of power lines, widening of sidewalks, and barrier-free improvements in the elimination of height differences with the vehicular right-of-way, the project also refurbished the elevated pedestrian deck outside the station. Using improved city streets, monthly yokkaichi markets and other events are now held in the area, a plan proposed by residents. As a result of the project, average daily pedestrian traffic on the deck increased from 23,100 (FY2003) to 24,300 (FY2008), while commercial sales increased from ¥28.3 billion annually (FY2002) to ¥35.0 billion (FY2008).
Toyota-shi Station is a major station on the Meitetsu Mikawa Line and Toyota Line. Daily entries and exits are 29,200 (2008).

Some pictures of the specific improvements included in the project:
Source: Toyota City

Pedestrian deck renovation:



Creation of Shin-Toyota Station plaza:



Community bus service through central city:

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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:16 AM   #1308
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Toyama City wins urban planning award
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/toy...OYT8T00123.htm

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Toyama City was selected for the Urban Planning Accomplishment Award in the 5th Urban Planning Grant Awards (sponsored by the Institute for Future Urban Development and other entities), which recognizes outstanding efforts in urban revitalization. The Urban Planning Accomplishment Award is the second most prestigious award, after the Grand Award. Toyama City announced the news on May 14.

In the Toyama-kō Line Trackside Zone in northern Toyama City, the municipal government introduced the Toyama Light Rail, Japan’s first true light rail transit (LRT) line, and implemented improvements to plazas and roadways along the line, achieving success in constructing a compact city. These efforts were specifically recognized in the city’s award.

The Urban Planning Accomplishment Award is a new award that was introduced for the 5th Urban Planning Grant Awards, and Toyama City is the first city to receive the award. The award ceremony will be held on July 15 at the Sabō Kaikan in Hirakawachō, Tōkyō.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:17 AM   #1309
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National Streetcar Summit in Toyama City
http://mytown.asahi.com/toyama/news....00001005220001

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On May 21, the National Streetcar Summit began at the Toyama International Conference Center in Ōtemachi, Toyama City. In addition to introducing the efforts of Toyama City in developing neighborhoods that don’t force residents to use an automobile to make a livelihood, attendees also discussed how to make use of streetcars to return vitality to the city’s deteriorating central district. On May 27 a night art festival using the Loop Line and exhibits looking back at abandoned rail lines in Toyama Prefecture were also opened, bringing joy to the railfans who gathered for the events.

Toyama City was the first in Japan to introduce next-generation light-rail vehicles in spring 2006, and at the end of last year, constructed a loop line through the city’s central district. This is a pioneering area that looks to use streetcars in urban planning.

At the summit, Mayor Mori Masashi gave a lecture, revealing his plan aimed at creating a compact city where residents can live without cars, drafted in response to a society that will come face-to-face with severe population aging. “If we increase service frequencies and increase the quality of the service, the people who shied away (from public transportation) will return, and the line will become a lifeline means of transport for the elderly,” explains Mori of the project’s success.

The project is also intertwined with the revitalization strategy for the city’s declining central district, and the mayor explained the efforts surrounding the creation of a loop line. Mori explained the ridership performance—1,000 passengers a day—of the new section of track built to create the loop line and how pushing for redevelopment and “urban living” among residents has had some benefit in the return of residents, and private investment, to the central district. The mayor also placed transit malls, where private vehicle access is restricted to secure space for public transportation and pedestrians, as an option to consider in the strategy to bring people back to the city’s central district.

Afterwards, Yoshida Nobuhiro, planning specialist for the Street Transportation Facilities Section of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), gave a lecture on the linkages between urban planning and public transportation. Yoshida introduced efforts being done across the country, including in Morioka City, where bus service between the city’s central district and other neighborhoods in the city is being augmented. In central Morioka City, public transportation is being expanded and a transport environment is being created that allows for easy access on foot or by bicycle. “After deciding on a future vision for your city, it’s critically important to have the administration, the private sector, and residents come together to discuss what kind of public transportation is needed,” says Yoshida.

The summit has been held roughly every two years since 1993 in cities with streetcar service. On May 21, representatives from streetcar operators across Japan, as well as streetcar fans—approx. 300 people in total—gathered at the summit. On May 22, a quiz competition, lottery, and a roundtable discussion on “How to Increase Support for Streetcars” will be held.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:17 AM   #1310
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Centram ridership increases with good weather
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/toy...OYT8T01372.htm

Quote:
On May 25, it was revealed that ridership for the Centram streetcar loop line that opened in central Toyama City in December of last year has been increasing on days with good weather. Ridership on streetcars generally increases during rainy weather, when it becomes difficult to travel outside by bicycle or on foot, but the Centram is demonstrating a “reverse phenomenon” where ridership on days with good weather is 60 percent greater than ridership on rainy days. Operator Toyama Chihō Railroad says that people are not only using the line as a means of travel, but also using it for the enjoyment of riding.

According to an analysis of ridership performance conducted by the railway in April, average passenger ons and offs at the three new tram stops opened—Kokusai Kaigijō-mae, Ōte Mall, and Grand Plaza-mae—was 1,100 on clear days and 700 on rainy days.

In addition, after compiling results four months after the line’s opening, the railway found that the 1,100 ons and offs were lower than original projections of 1,300, but that weekend ridership was particularly high—1,600 for Saturdays and 1,200 for Sundays, compared to 800 for weekdays.

Railway president Kawagishi Hiroshi says, “More than just a simply means of travel, we suspect there may be many passengers who just enjoy riding,” expressing his view that the line is contributing to the creation of vitality in the city’s central districts.

In regards to the existing 6.4 km of “city streetcars” outside of the loop line, the railway will break ground on the double-tracking of the Yasunoya – Daigaku-mae (1.2 km) section, which currently remains single-track. As part of a three- to four-year plan, the railway will gradually make progress on its projects, working towards increasing the convenience of its rail network.
Centram cab view on 2010.03.22, early morning:
Source: satake8080 on YouTube

Part 1 (Toyama-eki-mae – Kokusai Kaigijō-mae):



Part 2 (Kokusai Kaigijō-mae – Toyama-eki-mae):



Clips of the new T100 series tram, nicknamed the Santram, at Toyama-eki-mae (Toyama Station):
Source: AGUIMOVIE on YouTube

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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:18 AM   #1311
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Three months since platform gate installations on Sendai Municipal Subway
http://mytown.asahi.com/miyagi/news....00001005200001

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It will soon be three months since moving platform gates have been installed on platforms at all 17 stations on the Sendai Municipal Subway Namboku Line. During this time, the doors have been working smoothly and there have been no incidents of passengers falling onto the tracks. Among other railway operators who have introduced similar gates, there are lines that have had no platform falls after installation, and many are zeroing in on the benefit of the gates in preventing accidents.

Since its opening, the Namboku Line has been designed with operatioinal labor savings in mind. Train crews consist of a single operator and platforms are designed straight to improve visibility, with station video monitors to provide focused surveillance at specific platform locations. If something was amiss, the station staff pressed the emergency button, stopping trains immediately.

However, cases of passengers accidentally falling off the platform and into the tracks were occurring frequently. According to a report by the Transportation Bureau of the City of Sendai, between the start of service in July 1987 until the end of July last year, there have been 107 cases of platform falls and 66 cases of trespassing on the tracks, with 10 deaths and 22 injuries among passengers who were struck by or came into contact with trains.

The movement to install safety gates on the Namboku Line’s station platforms was launched in January 2001, after a total of three people were killed when passengers had attempted to rescue one man who had fallen onto the tracks at Shin-Ōkubo Station (Shinjuku Ward, Tōkyō) on the JR Yamanote Line. In 2006, the new Transport Accessibility Law, which called for improvements to station facilities to create safe access for the elderly and disabled, was enacted, giving fuel to the movement.

On May 18 at JR Higashi-Nakano Station (Nakano Ward, Tōkyō), an unemployed woman (33) living in Tōkyō was standing on the platform and was killed after being struck by a train. According to eyewitness reports, the woman was using her mobile phone at the time, and it’s likely she did not realize that the train was approaching. JR East has already decided to install moving platform gates at all stations on the Yamanote Line, and while construction is currently proceeding, there were no gates to be found at Higashi-Nakano Station.

Since FY2007, the Transportation Bureau of the City of Sendai has been working on detailed design and rolling stock refurbishments for the platform gates. Starting in October of last year with Tomizawa Station and continuing to Izumi Chūō Station, construction began at all stations, and by mid-February of this year, installations at all stations were in operation. The total project cost is approx. ¥2 billion. After installation, there has yet to be a single case of passengers accidentally falling onto the tracks or coming into contact with trains. Similar platform gates are scheduled to be installed on the Tōzai Line currently under construction.

On the Tōkyō Metro Marunouchi Line, which had platform gates installed at all stations by March 2008, the ten to twenty platform falls annually up until last year dropped to zero incidents in FY2009.

Many are also looking to the gates to help prevent suicides. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) Railway Business Policy Section says, “Historically, we have been looking at these gates as prevention against accidental platform falls, but they also have derivative benefits in contributing to suicide prevention.”

However, it’s impossible to completely prevent illegal trespassing onto the tracks. At 4:00 pm on May 7 at Atagobashi Station on the Namboku Line, a male cram school student (19) from Aoba Ward was struck by a train departing from Tomizawa bound for Izumi Chūō, suffering serious injuries. Surveillance cameras revealed that the victim climbed over the metal gates at the south end of the platform, and police believe the incident was a suicide attempt. In May of last year on the Marunouchi Line, a man was struck by a train and killed. It’s believed he avoided the platform gates and entered the track from a separate location.

Spokespersons for the Transportation Bureau of the City of Sendai say, “These incidents frequently end up involving passengers or other people on the platform, and are dangerous. We strongly advise against trespassing onto the tracks. Please, treat your life with value.”
Inside a Namboku Line train approaching the terminus at Tomizawa Station:


Source: ufmiyagi on YouTube
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:20 AM   #1312
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Kantō Bus president rails against Utsunomiya City LRT
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/to...802000107.html

Quote:
Tezuka Motofumi (62), president of Tochigi Prefecture bus operating giant Kantō Bus (HQ: Utsunomiya City), which is remaining roundly opposed to the the light rail transit (LRT) proposal being floated by Utsunomiya City, responded to questions in a Tōkyō Shimbun interview: “The city’s ridership projections are overly optimistic. If they knew what would really happen, there’s a 99 percent chance it wouldn’t make it off the drawing table—it’s not a project we should go forward with.” Cooperation from bus companies is critical for the LRT project, but for the city, is becoming a major obstacle to realizing the project.

“I have no doubt it will operate in the red. We did an analysis of cost vs. benefit, but this project doesn’t pencil out,” stressed Tezuka, questioning the meaning of the project. Kantō Bus is responsible for operation of a transportation network that spans all of Utsunomiya City, and several of its lines would compete with the LRT service. Despite the city’s hopes for cooperation from the company, Kantō Bus has yet to let up its opposition.

The LRT line would travel along Ōdōri through central Utsunomiya City, one of Kantō Bus’ few bus lines operating in the black. “If we lose our money-making lines and can’t resolve the operating deficits on lines with few passengers, we may just have to exit the bus business altogether. Neighborhoods with poor transit service will increase,” warns Tezuka.

“Even if you open the LRT, nobody will come. Instead, they should be looking at urban planning that doesn’t speed up the abandonment of the inner city. The budget for the project should be spent in neighborhoods with poor transit service,” proposes Tezuka.

Kantō Bus has fallen into budget problems in the past, but received support from the Industrial Revitalization Corporation of Japan (IRCJ). The end of May will mark a full four years since the end of IRCJ support. Tezuka, who undertook the campaign to get the company back on its feet, says, “We’ve become a model for rehabilitating bus companies, but we can’t cooperate with something that will take us steps back. If this fails, who will take responsibility?”

Light rail transit
The LRT plan stretches a total of 15 km from Technopolis Center in eastern Utsunomiya Center to JR Utsunomiya Station, Ōdōri, and Sakura-dōri Jūmonji. The project would be publicly-constructed and privately-operated, and the city estimates a construction cost of ¥35.5 billion. Single-unit articulated trains (120 pax. capacity) would make 200 roundtrips a day, with an estimated ridership of 44,900 passengers.
Utsunomiya City LRT proposed route:


Source: Utsunomiya City
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:21 AM   #1313
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Developments proceeding at JR Takasaki Station
http://mytown.asahi.com/gunma/news.p...00671005270001

Quote:
Development projects are underway at the East Exit of JR Takasaki Station, a stop on the Shinkansen network.

In the past, the West Exit of the station, home to Takasaki City Hall, was the center of activity, and department stores and hotels flanked the area. But after July 2008, when electronics retailer Yamada Denki relocated its headquarters from Maebashi City to the East Exit of Takasaki Station and opened an adjacent megastore, people have now begun assembling on the East Exit side of the station.

Daily entries and exits at the station are approx. 57,400—three times JR Maebashi Station. It’s possible ridership will increase further in late FY2014 with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Nagano – Kanazawa).

By March of next year, the East Exit station building, currently under renovation, will be converted from two stories to three, and gross floor area will jump from 1,800 sq m to 3,500 sq m. A new retail zone will enter the new space.

Underneath the elevated pedestrian deck connecting the station with the East Exit office district, construction is also proceeding on a highway express bus terminal. In spring 2012, the Takasaki Tamamura Smart Interchange, exclusively for vehicles outfitted with electronic toll collection (ETC), will be completed on the Kan’etsu Expressway, about seven kilometers away.

Through the connection of train station and expressway, the city hopes to become the “transportation hub of north Kantō.”
East Exit basic layout:


Source: Takasaki City

Pedestrian deck plan (full buildout). Parts of this have already opened.
Source: Takasaki City





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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:22 AM   #1314
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New bus service between Tōkyō Station and Ibaraki Airport launches May 27
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ib...502000084.html

Quote:
On May 24, Ibaraki Prefecture announced it will launch a highway express bus service connecting Ibaraki Airport (Omitama City) and JR Tōkyō Station starting May 27. Operations will be contracted out to Kantō Railway Group. Three daily roundtrips will be made, with travel time departing Ibaraki Airport at two-and-a-half hours and departing Tōkyō Station at one hour and 40 minutes. Fares for passengers with flights at the airport will be ¥500 one way, but ¥1,000 for other passengers.

The bus holds 40 passengers. Passengers must make reservations, but if there are seats available, the reservation process can be skipped. The service will run until the end of March next year, at which point officials will reevaluate whether or not to continue the program.

The bus schedule calls for departures from Ibaraki Airport at 6:20 am, 10:10 am, and 1:10 pm. Departures from Tōkyō Station will be at 10:00 am, 4:10 pm, and 6:50 pm.

The service is not only aimed at airport users but is also designed to target local Ibaraki residents heading to or back from Tōkyō, and hopes to improve access for general passengers as well.

The service will receive funding from the national government as an employment creation stimulus project, and operational costs will be covered by the funding together with fare revenue. Ibaraki Prefecture released a request for bids to operate the service with a maximum contract fee of approx. ¥50.9 million, and selected Kantō Railway Group from among three bidding companies.
First day of service, at Ibaraki Airport:


Source: Asahi Shimbun
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:23 AM   #1315
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Kashima Railway BRT between Ishioka and Ibaraki Airport to start in August
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ib...602000105.html

Quote:
Legal committee Kashitetsu Local Districts Public Transportation Strategy Conference, responsible for the bus rapid transit (BRT) project involving the construction of exclusive bus lanes on the right-of-way of the abandoned former Kashima Railway (Kashitetsu) line, held its sixth session in Ishioka City on May 25 and agreed to begin BRT service in August. Kantetsu Green Bus, which will operate the BRT service, will substantially augment existing service for the project.

The BRT project involves converting the Ishioka Station – Hitachi Ogawa Station (7.1 km) section of the Kashima Railway to an exclusive busway. Phase 1 of the project stretches 5.1 km between Ishioka Station and Shikamura Station.

According to an explanation by the committee secretary, running tests will be conducted after construction is complete between mid-July and early August, entering revenue service afterwards. There will be a total of 15 bus stops on this section, and with regards to Ishioka Station, where there was some difficulty securing appropriate access, the committee decided to establish a stop inside the existing bus terminal at the West Exit of the station.

The buses to be operated will be a mix of existing vehicles and three new buses, and on May 25, one of the new buses, with capacity for 55 passengers, was revealed to the press.
Rendering:


Source: Ibaraki Prefecture

Route map:


Source: Ibaraki Prefecture

Some pictures of the area, including the former ROW, some of it already paved over in preparation for the BRT:
Source: Response





















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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:24 AM   #1316
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Keikyū re-publishes press release on new schedule
http://www.keikyu.co.jp/corporate/pr...s/100507.shtml

Quote:
At Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū; HQ: Minato Ward, Tōkyō; President: Ishiwata Tsuneo), we will implement schedule changes on Sunday, May 16. These schedule changes are being implemented in conjunction with progress being made on the Keikyū Kamata Station Continuous Grade-Separation Project, namely the elevation of the inbound track on the Heiwajima Station – Rokugōdote Station section of the Main Line and Keikyū Kamata Station – Ōtorii Station section of the Airport Line set to take place the same day.

These schedule changes are aimed at reducing crowding inside trains during the morning and evening rush hour. In addition, in order to further improve access to Haneda Airport in preparation for its transformation into a true international airport, we will create a new “Airport express” service between the Yokohama end of the line and Haneda Airport, using eight-car trains departing from Shin-Zushi Station. This new service will improve convenience on the Shin-Zushi – Yokohama – Keikyū Kawasaki – Keikyū Kamata corridor and augment capacity to Haneda Airport (we will eliminate the four-car trains currently coupled onto rapid limited express and limited express trains). Rapid limited express trains will also now stop at Kanazawa Hakkei Station, improving convenience for passengers transferring to the Zushi Line or Kanazawa Seaside Line. We will also establish a new “Airport rapid limited express” service running nonstop between Shinagawa Station and Haneda Airport Station at a standard journey time of 16 minutes, making for an easy-to-understand schedule that improves convenience for passengers heading to central Tōkyō and Narita Airport.

Start of new schedule
Saturdays, Sundays, holidays: Sunday, May 16, 2010
Weekdays: Monday, May 17, 2010
*As a result of progress on the Keikyū Kamata Station Continuous Grade-Separation Project, we will elevate the inbound track on the project section starting Sunday, May 16.

Major schedule changes
  1. Congestion relief on trains bound for central Tōkyō
    1. Measures to relieve congestion and prevent delays during the rush hour
      Between Shinagawa and Keikyū Kawasaki on weekdays, we will modify the service pattern of local trains heading inbound (towards Tōkyō) in the morning rush and outbound (away from Tōkyō) in the evening rush, helping to relieve crowding and prevent delays.
    2. Improved convenience at transfer stations, helping improve network benefits
      • Adding Kanazawa Hakkei Station as a stop on rapid limited express trains
        Rapid limited express trains (including Wing trains) will now also stop at Kanazawa Hakkei Station, improving the convenience of transfers to the Zushi Line or Kanazawa Seaside Line.
        Stops: Misakiguchi – Miura Kaigan – Tsukuihama – Keikyū Nagasawa – YRP Nobi – Keikyū Kurihama – Kita-Kurihama – Shin-Ōtsu – Horinouchi – Yokosuka Chūō – Kanazawa Hakkei – Kanazawa Bunko – Kami-Ōoka – Yokohama – Keikyū Kawasaki – Keikyū Kamata – Shinagawa
      • Start of new “Airport express” service
        The new “Airport express” service departing from Shin-Zushi Station is designed to improve convenience at transfer stations and reduce travel time to major terminals such as Yokohama.
        Stops: Shin-Zushi – Jinmuji – Mutsuura – Kanazawa Hakkei – Kanazawa Bunko – Nōkendai – Sugita – Kami-Ōoka – Gumyōji – Idogaya – Hinodechō – Yokohama – Nakakido – Kanagawa Shinmachi – Keikyū Tsurumi – Keikyū Kawasaki – Kōjiya – Ōtorii – Anamori Inari – Tenkūbashi – (Haneda Airport International Terminal) – Haneda Airport
    3. New schedule designed to be easy-to-understand for passengers
      By operating direct-service eight-car “Airport express” trains from the Yokohama end of the line to Haneda Airport, we will largely eliminate the four-car units currently coupled at the rear end of rapid limited express and limited express trains, creating an easy-to-understand schedule for our customers (only four outbound trains during the weekday evening period will continue to be coupled at Keikyū Kawasaki and decoupled at Kanazawa Bunko).
  2. More convenient access to Haneda Airport
    • Creation of a new “Airport express” service
      We will establish a new direct-service train on the Shin-Zushi – Yokohama - Keikyū Kawasaki – Haneda Airport corridor known as the “Airport express.” The service will primarily run during the midday period at 20-minute headways using eight-car trains, augmenting a service network focused on access to Haneda Airport.
      *Note: The current “express” service between central Tōkyō and Haneda Airport Station will be renamed to “Airport express.”
      Weekdays
      Yokohama and beyond to Haneda Airport: 23 trains
      Haneda Airport to Yokohama and beyond: 25 trains
      Total: 48 trains
      Service details: 10:00 to 16:00, every 20 minutes
      Weekends and holidays
      Yokohama and beyond to Haneda Airport: 44 trains
      Haneda Airport to Yokohama and beyond: 43 trains
      Total: 87 trains
      Service details: 9:00 to 21:00, every 20 minutes
    • Operation of a new “Airport rapid limited express” service
      The new “Airport rapid limited express” runs nonstop between Shinagawa Station and Haneda Airport Station (standard journey time is 16 minutes), improving airport access.
      Weekdays
      Shinagawa and beyond to Haneda Airport: 20 trains
      Haneda Airport to Shinagawa and beyond: 19 trains
      Total: 39 trains
      Service details: 10:00 to 15:00, every 20 minutes
      Weekends and holidays
      Shinagawa and beyond to Haneda Airport: 32 trains
      Haneda Airport to Shinagawa and beyond: 42 trains
      Total: 74 trains
      Service details: 9:00 to 19:00, every 20 minutes
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:25 AM   #1317
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Ōta Ward and local residents upset over new Keikyū schedule
http://mytown.asahi.com/tokyo/news.p...00001005120001

Quote:
“Skipping Kamata” is unforgiveable. In response to the new train schedule published by Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū) that allows for nonstop trains between Shinagawa and Haneda Airport, the Ōta Ward government, the Ward Council, and resident representatives held a press conference at the ward offices on May 11, reemphasizing their opposition to the new train schedule. Ward mayor Matsubara Tadayoshi hinted that he would reject the funding assistance the ward has provided for the Keikyū Line elevation project. On May 15, one day before the new train schedule takes effect, opponents will hold a demonstration outside Keikyū Kamata Station calling for all trains to stop at the station, and a citizens rally sponsored by the ward government and others will also be held.

At the press conference, Mayor Matsubara stressed, “When Haneda Airport becomes an international airport in October, Kamata will become a key center as a gateway to the world. I can’t approve of having trains skip such an important station.” Ward Council chairman Nagai Hiroomi spared no words: “I am not going to let Keikyū get away with getting a free ride.” In regards to the ward’s financial support for the elevation project, Nagai said he wants the money back.

In the project to elevate approx. 6 km of the Keikyū Line, Ōta Ward has supplied ¥17.2 billion in financial assistance. “We cooperated in securing land for the project, and residents in the area have had to sacrifice by putting up with all the noise and vibration,” claims Nagai.

The upcoming train schedule changes are being implemented because the inbound (towards Shinagawa) track of the Keikyū Line will be switched to elevated track. But representatives from neighborhood councils and neighborhood commercial associations present at the press conference rattled off their complaints one after another, saying their “good-faith cooperation with night-time construction work has been trampled on” and their “assistance through the project has been tossed into the trash.”

The sudden notification of the schedule change to local Kamata residents is also bringing fuel to the fire. According to Ōta Ward, the details of the new schedule were revealed to them on April 21. Keikyū had planned to publish an official press release on the new schedule the following day on April 22, but after stiff resistance from ward representatives, delayed the press release until May 7. Mayor Matsubara could not hide his anger: “We’ve been working together on this elevation project for how many years? And they can’t even drop us a word about the new schedule?”

Ōta Ward requested that Keikyū reevaluate the schedule changes twice, on April 30 and May 7, but say they have yet to receive a response from Keikyū on the issue of trains stopping at Kamata. In regards to the May 15 citizens’ rally, Mayor Matsubara said, “If they want to ram this new schedule down our throats, then I hope we can make the rally a forum for all Ōta Ward citizens to reaffirm our resolve to have Keikyū have all trains stop at Kamata.”

In the new schedule released by Keikyū and set to take effect on May 16, a new “Airport rapid limited express” (Airport kaitoku) running nonstop between Shinagawa and Haneda Airport will be established. Keikyū Kamata Station will lose midday rapid limited express trains with direct service to Haneda, and the overall number of trains to Haneda stopping at the station will drop by three trains an hour. Keikyū spokespersons said they were “as yet unaware of the details of the press conference,” but noted, “In order to improve the development of Haneda Airport as an international airport and boost the value of being on the Keikyū Line, we will continue to the best of our ability in cooperating towards solving Ōta Ward’s various community issues.”
Tōkyō MX news report (2010.05.11):

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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:26 AM   #1318
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Keikyū construction updates (before the change)

A lot has happened all across the Keikyū network in preparation for the May 16 schedule changes, so here’s a few snapshots from various stations before the big day. These were taken 2010.05.08:
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

First, Kanazawa Bunko Station. They’ve been widening the platforms at the station, as the ends are particularly narrow. During the morning rush, four-car trains from the Zushi Line as well as empty four-car trains entering service are coupled to eight-car rapid limited express and limited express trains, forming twelve-car trains heading to Yokohama and Tōkyō. As a result, passengers naturally gather at the ends of the platform, creating a bit of a hazard. This is the south end, closer to Kanazawa Hakkei.



The north end, closer to Nōkendai, was recently widened during the Golden Week holiday period, and the platform stickers designating door locations give away the extent of the old platform. Because of the extreme platform crowding, passengers at each door location are encouraged to line up in three marked boxes on the platforms—the next train, the second train, or the third train—and within each of these, there are three separate queues, represented by the diamond-shaped markings.



The outermost inbound track has been moved out quite a bit to accommodate the additional platform space.



Sugita Station, where they have extended the platforms to accommodate eight-car trains as part of the new Airport express service.



Same story at Nakakido Station.



To Keikyū Kamata, with this new stairwell connecting up to to the elevated inbound platform waiting to open.



Down to Kōjiya Station on the Airport Line. Because only one direction of the Main Line is elevated, until they elevate the other direction, Kōjiya Station will have trains in both directions stop at both the new elevated platform and the existing ground-level platform. It’s a similar situation to passengers entering at Keikyū Kamata who want to go to Haneda Airport, as the next train could arrive at either the second level or the ground level depending on which direction of the Main Line it’s coming from.

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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:27 AM   #1319
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New Keikyū schedule launches
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/na...702000069.html

Quote:
After completing the track switchout to move the inbound track of the Main Line and Airport Line to the elevated viaduct in the early morning hours of May 16, Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū) began operations of its new Airport rapid limited express service that skips Keikyū Kamata Station and runs nonstop between Shinagawa and Haneda Airport Stations. The start of service was marred by a gaping gulf between Keikyū, which prioritized improving access to Haneda, and Ōta Ward, which had been banking on neighborhood revitalization with an increase in passengers at the station. Passengers both welcomed the new service and expressed their disappointment.

Up until now, all nine trains per hour during the midday period bound for the Airport stopped at Keikyū Kamata Station, but starting on May 16, the number of Airport-bound trains stopping at the station dropped to six per hour with the new schedule. The Airport rapid limited express runs nonstop between Shinagawa and Haneda Airport, connecting the two in as little as sixteen minutes. The time saved from skipping Keikyū Kamata Station is a mere minute.

Maegaki Katsumi (62), a small business owner from Ōta Ward, was standing on the platforms at Keikyū Kamata Station waiting to transfer trains. “This is a major junction station connecting the Main Line and Airport Line. If we’re only saving a minute, then they should just have all the trains stop,” said Maegaki, a frustrated look on her face. A man (52) who operates a restaurant outside the station said, “If the number of visitors to our retail district decreases because the trains skip the station, I’ll likely be affected, too.”

Meanwhile, a male office worker (36) from Fukuoka City who arrived at Haneda Airport from Shinagawa on an Airport rapid limited express after attending a wedding ceremony welcomed the new service: “It’s a direct service, so it was a comfortable ride all the way to the airport. I’d love to use it again.” A woman (79) from Tokushima City who came to tour Asakusa with her grandchildren was also pleased: “There’s no need to transfer, it’s so convenient.”

Daily entries and exits at Keikyū Kamata Station are approx. 49,000, ninth in the Keikyū network. Keikyū says it examined its whole network in the process of creating the new schedule. The nonstop trains on the Tōkyō Monorail between Hamatsuchō and Haneda Airport also take as little as 16 minutes, and both railways are battling it out touting their access from central Tōkyō.

The section of inbound track now elevated had 28 grade crossings. The grade crossing just outside Keikyū Kamata Station is a traffic bottleneck, serving about 23,000 vehicles a day, and is notorious for delaying runners taking part in the Hakone Ekiden marathon, but with the elevation of the inbound track, blocked time has decreased by about 40 percent. In FY2012, elevation of the outbound track will be completed and all 28 grade crossings on the section will be eliminated.
A comprehensive series of videos covering the new schedule. With the two new services (Airport rapid limited express and Airport express) and changes to stopping patterns, a lot of fans had their eyes on the new schedule.

First, a goodbye to the “express” service, which is no longer used as an official designation on the Keikyū Line. Between Shinagawa and Haneda Airport, these trains are now known as “Airport express” service, together with the Airport express trains coming to / from the Yokohama end of the Main Line. These clips were shot at Shinagawa Station (2010.05.09).


Source: karibajct on YouTube

A similar “farewell to the express” video taken at the grade crossing outside Keikyū Kamata Station. This one is a medley of all the various rolling stock used on the service.


Source: ayokoi on YouTube

Next, we jump to Kanazawa Hakkei Station in southern Yokohama City. With the addition of Kanazawa Hakkei as a stop on rapid limited express and Wing trains, all trains now stop at this station. These clips capture the last day of rapid limited express trains skipping the station (2010.05.15).


Source: karibajct on YouTube

The new line maps placed inside trains. One can appreciate the complexity of the Keikyū schedule, with not only a variety of services on its own network, but having to work in concert with both the Toei Asakusa Line and the Keisei / Hokusō networks on the opposite end. The last clip is a shot of the old line maps.


Source: karibajct on YouTube

An introduction to stops on the new Airport express service on the Yokohama end of the line. This is Part 1, covering Nōkendai to Hinodechō. These were filmed on 2010.05.14, before the schedule changes took place.


Source: karibajct on YouTube

Part 2 of the above, covering Yokohama to Keikyū Kamata.


Source: karibajct on YouTube

Clips of the first Airport express service from the Yokohama end, shot the early morning of 2010.05.16.


Source: karibajct on YouTube

A hodgepodge of clips taken on 2010.05.17 at Keikyū Kawasaki, Keikyū Kamata, Haneda Airport, and other locations.


Source: karibajct on YouTube
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 10:28 AM   #1320
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Keikyū construction updates (after the change): Part 1

Comprehensive photo report after the big day. First up is Kōjiya Station on the Airport Line:
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

The ramp up to the elevated track between Ōtorii and Kōjiya. The track here is nice and straight now, a big improvement over layout during construction, when temporary track needed to be designed with some sharp curves. The touchdown point doesn’t look completely finished yet, so it looks like they still have some work to do even for this track.



Up on the ramp, things look mostly complete, but they still have temporary fencing on the outside that they need to replace.



Approaching they station, one can see the unusual temporary design for the elevated platform. Probably due to lack of space, they needed to design the temporary platforms on top of the future elevated outbound track, but now that they’ve removed the ground-level inbound tracks, they can finish up the platform and station work, opening up the room for the future outbound track.



The future inbound platform is actually on the left, but for the reasons mentioned above, they are actually using a temporarily widened outbound platform.



Heading towards Keikyū Kamata.



Approaching the ramp down. The plan for the elevated Keikyū Kamata is to have outbound trains on the third level and inbound trains on the second level, so in order to access both levels of the station, they installed a crossover here.



We switch over to the track that will take us to the inbound platforms at Keikyū Kamata.



Entering the two-level viaduct… The track is now elevated, but the curves here are still sharp as before.



Back to Kōjiya Station, we can see the platform widening is designed to be temporary.



New waiting room and LED departure boards. Currently this platform serves trains in both directions, as does the remaining ground-level platform.



Temporary elevator and stairwell.



Down on the ground-level platform.



In the passage leading to / from the faregates, they have departure boards for both the ground-level and the upper level. For the time being, trains in both directions will be stopping at both platforms, so passengers will need to where to wait. A bit confusing, but maybe unavoidable.

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