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Old September 15th, 2010, 08:39 AM   #1621
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Farewell run for Iyo Railway 800 series
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/ne...OYT1T00162.htm

Quote:
On July 25, a special event commemorating the retirement of the 800 series trains that have served as the workhorses of Iyo Railway’s suburban lines since 1984 was held at Matsuyama City’s Komachi Station on the Takahama Line, marking the end of 800 series service on the railway.

A crowd of railfans and local passengers regrettably gathered to take souvenir photographs.

A total of 18 cars in the 800 series (17.7 m long, 2.7 m wide, 4.1 m tall; capacity: 120 pax) were purchased by Iyo Railway in 1984-85 from Keiō Teito Electric Railway (now Keiō Electric Railway). Afterwards, the cars were gradually replaced by new 3000 series trains, and on July 25, 800 series trains made their last run from Matsuyama-shi Station to Komachi Station.

After arriving at Komachi Station, a three-car train was opened to the public for approx. 40 minutes. Under the watchful eye of many a railfan, director’s assistant Ōnishi Taiji (40), who served as the last operator, accepted a bouquet of flowers as he looked longingly at the last train: “While I only rode them as an operator and conductor, they were fast cars and easy-to-operate. I’m sorry to see them go.” Unemployed Yamazaki Tadanori (56) from Yamanishichō, Matsuyama City made his rounds around the train, inspecting one last time: “I’m sure they could still get plenty of years out of these.” Outside of a few 800 series cars transferred to Chōshi Electric Railway (Chiba Prefecture), all cars will be scrapped.
The cars that Chōshi Electric Railway received are now in service.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 08:40 AM   #1622
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Okayama Station West Exit transport plaza complete

Last construction update is here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...postcount=1094

Ribbon-cutting ceremony was May 10, so I’m a little late in following up in this, but here’s some pictures:
Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/



Bus terminal.



Another angle on the bus terminal, which serves fixed-route buses, highway express buses, regular tourist buses, and airport stage coaches. The terminal also has a roofed ticket hall and waiting room.



Private vehicle pick-up and drop-off.



Second level is home to a plaza and the taxi pool.





West entrance to the East-West Accessway.



The Accessway is also home to a large and busy station retail area known as Sun-Ste Okayama (short for Sun Station Terrace Okayama).



East entrance. They demolished the wall here and made it nice and inviting.

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Old September 15th, 2010, 08:43 AM   #1623
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Ryōbi Group debuts “Bus of the Future”
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/oka...008280146.html

Quote:
Ryōbi Group has constructed a “Bus of the Future” celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding, and will begin operating the bus starting September 1 on the Saidaiji Line linking JR Okayama Station and Saidaiji Temple. The bus is a low-fuel consumption hybrid engine design, and illumination inside the vehicle will be powered using electricity generated by solar panels installed on the roof. The interior features natural materials, making the bus both environmentally- and user-friendly.

The bus is named SOLARVE, drawing from “solar” and “vehicle,” and is approx. 11 m long, with a capacity of 44 passengers. Ryōbi Group made a special order from the manufacturer for one vehicle, at the cost of approx. ¥79 million—about three times the cost of a typical fixed-route bus.

The bus itself runs on motors which move using electricity generated by the diesel engine or accumulated while running.

In order to generate electricity separately for the interior LED lighting, the roof of the bus features two solar panels (approx. 1.5 m tall and 1 m long) and 90 solar thin-film pieces (approx. 30 cm tall and 20 cm wide).

As a bus designed to take passengers to the future, the interior is a uniform white, and the floor and partitions use white sycamore and chestnut wood. The seat fabric and stuffing was specially ordered from a luxury furniture maker. The bus also features five air purifiers, and the windows are layered with a film that cuts 99% of UV rays.

To assist in safe driving, the bus is equipped with a total of four fish-eye lens cameras in the front and back and on both sides. The camera footage is combined into a single stream on a monitor at the operator’s seat that looks down at all four directions from directly above the bus.

Spokespersons for Ryōbi Group say, “Apparently, it’s still impossible to run a bus using only electricity generated by solar panels. With today’s technology, we’d need many more panels, so much that it would be too heavy for the bus.”

The SOLARVE will complete four roundtrips a day on the Saidaiji Line. The fare is the same as for regular buses.

Trial rides were conducted on August 26 in Kita Ward, Okayama City, with 39 elementary school students and others selected by lottery participating. Fourth-grader Takada Yukinori (9) who came from Satoshō Town and his younger brother, second-grader Kōji (7), both said, “It’s new and cool. It’s good for the environment, so we want to ride as much as we can.”
Pictures:


Source: Ryōbi Holdings
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Old September 15th, 2010, 08:51 AM   #1624
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Nishinomiya City announces upgrades to Hanshin Kōshien Station
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/hyo...OYT8T00061.htm

Quote:
On September 7, Nishinomiya City revealed a sweeping upgrade plan for Hanshin Kōshien Station. The cornerstones of the plan are construction to widen the platforms to twice their current size and construct five new elevators at the station, and together with improvements to area roadways, Hanshin Electric Railway and the city will begin construction in FY2011. Completion is scheduled for FY2016.

The station is close to a half century old, and its scale and construction no longer suit today’s demands. In particular, the platform is only 5.6 m—extremely narrow when compared to Hanshin Nishinomiya Station (approx. 9 m)—and users have complained that they are “afraid of walking when the platform is crowded.” The station also lacks elevators, making it inconvenient for users in wheelchairs when attempting to climb to the platforms on the second floor of the station.

The upgrades will reduce the number of platforms from four to three and increase platform width to approx. 9 m like at Hanshin Nishinomiya Station. Elevators will also be installed, improving ease of use for passengers in wheelchairs, and an additional underground passage connecting the west side station building with the platforms will be constructed, bringing the total number of such passages to two. The city is also considering a station design that is appropriate for the gateway to the Kōshien Stadium, including a domed roof on the station building designed like a baseball.

The area improvements will increase the vertical clearance of the prefectural route underpass passing below the station from 4.1 m to 4.5 m.

The FY2011 provisional budgetary appropriations released by the National Government in late August included ¥300 million in expenses for the upgrade project, so prospects are good that the project will move forward. The city’s Urban Planning Group says, “The station is the gateway to Kōshien Stadium. I hope we can carry out these improvements to make it easy to use for everyone.”
Cab view from a Hanshin Main Line / Namba Line rapid express (Kintetsu through-service) from Sannomiya in Kōbe to Ōsaka Namba.
Source: HINTEL1824TRAIN on YouTube

Part 1: Sannomiya to Sumiyoshi. I don’t know how they can get away with that curve at Mikage (7:45)…



Part 2: Sumiyoshi to Nishinomiya



Part 3: Nishinomiya to Deyashiki. The approach into Kōshien is at 3:10.



Part 4: Deyashiki to Nishi-Kujō



Part 5: Nishi-Kujō to Ōsaka Namba

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Old September 15th, 2010, 08:55 AM   #1625
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Hankyū movie set to hit theatres summer 2011
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20...12-mvwalk-movi

Quote:
Production of “Hankyū Densha” (lit. “Hankyū Line”) (scheduled release in early summer 2011) starring Nakatani Miki and Toda Erika was announced. The movie takes place on Hyōgo Prefecture’s Hankyū Imazu Line, which connects Takarazuka Station in Takarazuka City and Imazu Station in Nishinomiya City in 15 minutes each way, and follows the stories of perfect strangers who perchance end up taking the same train. The film is a heartwarming human drama that is sure to give viewers the urge to take the train.

This is the first time Nakatani and Toda will star in the same film, and both will be playing women who are hopelessly down on luck—Nakatani an office lady in her thirties who loses her fiancée to a younger coworker, and Toda a college student who is getting played for a fool by a good-for-nothing boyfriend. In regards to the announcement, Nakatani commented, “This film really makes you realize that the other people riding with you on each train have gone through their own trials and tribulations. I’m pleased to have a chance to act alongside Toda Erika.” Meanwhile, Kōbe native Toda Erika shared her own feelings: “Just hearing the words ‘Hankyū Densha’ brought back many memories. As I was reading the script, I felt like I was somehow back home in Kansai. ‘Hankyū Densha’ is such a powerful film—both viewers and everyone involved in the production just naturally get drawn into the film’s world. Since a child, I’ve always looked up to Ms. Nakatani, and I’m very excited to have the chance to act alongside her. I hope to do my best not to be a burden to her.”

The original story was written by Arikawa Hiro, often called the “Queen of Romance Novels.” Toshokan Sensō, which won the 39th Seiun Award for Best Japanese Novel of the Year, has already been remade into an animation film and garnered much acclaim, but this is her first work to be remade into a live-action film. Okada Yoshikazu from Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu (2004) will lead the screenwriting.

Filming will begin in December 2010, with all scenes to be filmed in the Kansai region. Hankyū Electric Railway, which will serve as the backdrop for the film, has also pledged its full cooperation, and it’s expected that local Takarazuka heroines from the Takarazuka Revue will make cameo appearances.
Behind the lines, the production company Tōhō is part of the Hankyū-Hanshin Tōhō Group, together with Hankyū Electric Railway, so it seems only natural that the two join forces.

Now, a small construction update on the line that will be the setting for the film: the Hankyū Imazu Line. Currently, the southern branch is being elevated at Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station. Only a small portion of track (about 340 m) will be elevated, but the project will strengthen the station as a major hub in the Hankyū network and eliminate problematic grade crossings.
Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/



Future route connecting the at-grade Kōbe Line platforms with the (future) elevated Hankyū Imazu Line (South Branch) platforms.



Pedestrian deck connecting the station to Nishinomiya Gardens, opened in November 2008 on the site of the former Hankyū Nishinomiya Stadium.



Ramp up to the station.



On the pedestrian deck near Nishinomiya Gardens, looking back at the station.



Window view on the South Branch of the Imazu Line. The South Branch only has three stations, and is just 1.6 km long. When this footage was taken, they were still constructing Nishinomiya Gardens (you can see the construction site immediately after departing Nishinomiya Kitaguchi).
Source: seigen120kaihin on YouTube

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Old September 15th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #1626
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Kintetsu opens Uehonmachi YUFURA
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...2229028-n1.htm

Quote:
On August 23, Kinki Nippon Railroad (Kintetsu Corporation) revealed mixed-use retail facility Uehonmachi YUFURA—scheduled to have its grand opening on the site of the former Kintetsu Gekijō theatre at Ōsaka Uehonmachi Station on August 26—to press reporters.

By spring of next year, large retail facilities directly connected to train stations are scheduled to come online one after another in Ōsaka City. While others point to struggling individual consumption levels, the battle in the distribution industry is poised to heat up even further.

Uehonmachi YUFURA consists of 13 aboveground levels and one belowground level, with the Shin-Kabukiza kabuki theatre occupying the sixth through eighth floors. The retail facility will occupy Basement Level 1 through Level 5, and in addition to securing the largest Uniqlo shop in all of Ōsaka Prefecture, will house 39 tenants including lifestyle accessories store Mujirushi Ryōhin and Kinshō Store food supermarket Harves. Iida Keiji—president of Kintetsu Department Stores, which will be responsible for store management—remarked, “We’ve created a facility that focuses on casual shops, where men and women in their 30s and 40s with family can comfortably visit.”

Next spring, several large-scale collections of specialty-shop retailers directly connected to train stations like Uehonmachi YUFURA are scheduled to open one after another in Ōsaka City. In the Abeno Project (temporary name) large-scale retail facility being constructed by Tōkyū Land Corporation near Kintetsu’s Ōsaka Abenobashi Station, popular tenants including Tōkyū Hands and specialty retailer 109—famous as ground zero for young fashion in Tōkyō’s Shibuya district—are scheduled to open stores. And in the North Gate Building (Ōsaka Station New North Building) at JR Ōsaka Station, specialty retail mall Lucua will open across approx. 20,000 sq m of sales floor area between Basement Level 1 and Level 10.

Uehonmachi YUFURA is adjacent to Kintetsu Department Stores’ Uehonmachi store, and the Abeno Project is adjacent to the Kintetsu Abeno flagship store. “We’ve renovated our Uehonmachi store to appeal to the senior generation, and designed the content to supplement YUFURA’s offerings. From an urban revitalization standpoint, the Abeno Project will also generate synergistic benefits for the department store,” says Iida.

Meanwhile, other department store representatives say, “We are wary of specialty retail centers, as they compete with our casual sections targeting the younger generation.” Is it a synergistic benefit, or competition? Eyes are watching the impact to existing businesses in the distribution industry from the debut of large-scale specialty retail centers with the convenience of being directly connected to stations.

Official website: http://www.yufura.jp/

A quick walkthrough from the outside, days before opening:


Source: fineluve on YouTube

Now some pictures after opening. Looks like Kintetsu did a wonderful job on this one, and the lattice cladding on the Shin-Kabukiza looks great.
Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/



Nighttime is good too.



The small plaza adjoining YUFURA to Ōsaka Uehonmachi Station and the Kintetsu Department Store.



Shin-Kabukiza theatre.













Bonus shot of the cladding.

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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:02 AM   #1627
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Uehonmachi YUFURA to help strengthen ridership at Kintetsu terminals
http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/eco/news/...OYO8T00213.htm

Quote:
Synergistic benefits with the railway
On August 26, Kinki Nippon Railroad (Kintetsu Corporation) held the grand opening for mixed-use commercial building Uehonmachi YUFURA on the site of the former Kintetsu Gekijō theatre outside Ōsaka Uehonmachi Station. Kintetsu is also proceeding with a redevelopment project at Ōsaka Abenobashi Station, with the goal increasing the attractiveness of its major train terminals, attracting customers, and putting a halt to the decline in railway ridership. However, starting in spring 2011, new and expanded department stores are scheduled to come online in Ōsaka City, primarily in the Kita area surrounding JR Ōsaka Station. With no hope for avoiding increased competition, another level of ingenuity is required to capture customers.

YUFURA, a collection of specialty retail shops, aims primarily to capture local residents as customers, but the facility also features the Shin-Kabukiza kabuki theatre, where stage performances and other events will be shown. At the opening ceremony on August 26, Kintetsu president Kobayashi Tetsuya emphasized, “I am hoping that this will also be an enjoyable place for people visiting the Shin-Kabukiza from afar.”

The reason Kintetsu is channeling its efforts into terminal redevelopment is not only because of increased revenue in its distribution and real estate businesses, but also because of synergistic benefits—if the terminal becomes more attractive, people visiting by train will also increase. Because of the economic slump, railway ridership is on the decline, and Kintetsu’s FY2009 ridership numbers has fallen to ¥576.22 million—70 percent of what it was during the peak year of FY1991.

Kintetsu’s largest terminal redevelopment project is the rebuilding of the Abenobashi Terminal Building, scheduled for a target completion in spring FY2014 at the cost of ¥130 billion. The lower floors will house Kintetsu Department Stores’ Abeno flagship store, the intermediate floors will house office, and the top floors will house luxury hotel space. Annual revenues are projected at approx. ¥155 billion.

But competition is fierce. In spring 2011, a tenant building housing offices and the JR Ōsaka Mitsukoshi-Isetan department store will be completed on the north side of JR Ōsaka Station, and the Daimaru Umeda store on the station’s south side will also expand its floor area. In spring 2012, expansion of Hankyū Department Stores’ Umeda flagship store will be complete, and in spring 2013, highrise towers featuring offices and retail facilities will be completed in the first development zone in the Umeda North Yard.

Kintetsu believes that “Abeno is the gateway to southern Ōsaka, and has a different market demand than the Kita area,” but it is an indisputable fact that most of YUFURA’s office space was gobbled up by Kintetsu Group. It’s likely that Kintetsu’s approach in trying to distinguish the Abenobashi Terminal Building from the development already underway in the Kita area is going to become a critical issue.

Kintetsu Department Stores: Doing well, a shift to specialty retail facilities
Kintetsu Department Stores, which handles management of YUFURA’s retail zone, plans on continuing to place its efforts behind management of specialty-retail facilities. The department store industry is struggling with declines in sales, but while specialty-retail facilities can’t pull in crowds like department stores, they can be operated at very low cost. In addition, it’s much easier to attract popular brands in retail facilities that target the younger generation.

The five specialty-retail facilities under the management of Kintetsu Department Stores are faring well. At “and”, the annex to its Abeno flagship store and home to general goods store The Loft and other tenants, sales between March and July were 3.3 percent year-over-year. As a result, the company will be converting its Momoyama store (Kyōto City) and Kikyōgaoka store (Nabari City, Mie Prefecture) to specialty-retail facilities by next spring. At the Abeno flagship store currently being rebuilt (scheduled completion in FY2014), approximately 40 percent will be converted to specialty retail. Kintetsu Department Stores president Iida Keiji says, “Department stores dropped their furniture and home appliances sections and focused too much on fashion. By bringing in plenty of specialty-retail shops, I hope to bring back the customer demographics we’ve lost.”
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:06 AM   #1628
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Nankai announces name for new station outside Wakayama University
http://www.wakayamashimpo.co.jp/news...0910_8224.html

Quote:
On September 9, Nankai Electric Railway Co., Ltd. announced that it has selected “Wakayama Daigaku-mae” (lit. “Wakayama University”) as the name for the new station being constructed on the Nankai Main Line between Kyōshi Station and Kinokawa Station. In mid-February, the railway began accepting suggestions from the public for the station’s name, and selected a name from a pool of 2,726 suggestions, 357 of which were unique. Spokespersons for the railway said, “By selecting a major university along the Nankai network as the name for the new station, we hope we can boost the image of the Main Line and contribute to the urban development of this area.”

The station is located in the westernmost edge of the Fujitodai area, which is currently being developed by the Employment Development Association as a residential neighborhood, and is adjacent to National Route 26. The railway is aiming for a spring 2012 opening, and expects daily average station entries and exits of approx. 6,000 passengers. The station is designed with an elevated concourse level spanning two side platforms, with a 6 m wide public passage. Currently, about 50 percent of the construction is complete.

The New Station Name Evaluation Committee (formed of representatives from Nankai Electric Railway, Wakayama Prefecture, Wakayama City, the city’s Wakayama Daigaku-mae Station Area Land Readjustment Union, and academic experts) began accepting suggestions from the public for the name of the new station in February. From a total of 357 unique station names, the committee narrowed the selection down to three candidates—Wakayama Daigaku-mae, Fujitodai, and Wadai – Fujitodai—before submitting the candidate names to the railway on April 13. The railway later selected Wakayama Daigaku-mae as the name for the new station.

Nankai says it is currently considering which train services will stop at the station, as well as the total number of trains, and hopes that it will become “a station that everyone will learn to love.”
Previous article:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=758

Some images:
Source: Nankai Electric Railwau

Under construction (2010.08.25):



Location in the Nankai network:



Apparently they will be constructing a short section of all new replacement track (in pink) as part of constructing the new station:

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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:08 AM   #1629
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New station building at Kishi Station opens to the public
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...008040092.html

Quote:
Kishi Station (Kinokawa City, Wakayama Prefecture) on Wakayama Electric Railway’s Kishikawa Line, home to stationmaster and calico cat Tama, has been rebuilt, and on the morning of August 4, a ceremony was held to celebrate completion of the new station building. The new station building features a cypress-bark roof and stained-glass windows designed to look like eyes and a mouth—making the station look like a cat’s face from a distance. Tama participated in the ribbon-cutting together with railway president Kojima Mitsunobu. Over 200 fans gathered for the ceremony, and special commemorative tickets (¥150) were on sale.

The station’s name will stay the same, but the new station building was christened “Tama Museum – Kishi Station.” Because of structural aging in the old station building, Wakayama Electric Railway spent approx. half a year and invested ¥100 million in construction costs to build a replacement. A cat motif is present throughout the new station, including in floor tiles featuring caricatures of Tama. A cafe also opened inside the station building.

Tama, who moved into the new stationmaster’s room, seemed quite satisfied, meowing multiple times. Kojima was pleased with the results: “It’s the number one station building in the world, fit for Stationmaster Tama.”
Pictures of the new station building:
Source: http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/rintetsu17/

Before rebuilding:



After. I thought it would be cheesy at first, but they did a good job.









Inside…





More pictures:


Source: Ryōbi Group
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:11 AM   #1630
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Keihan Museum Train makes debut

This is a special five-car 2800 series unit that has been repainted and had its interior completely modified to serve as a moving museum to celebrate Keihan Electric Railway’s 100th anniversary. In particular, the exterior has been painted a deep moss green that draws from the paint scheme used on the 1550 series, which debuted in 1927 as Japan’s first “Romancecar” train. The train is only on display for certain days between July 10 and September 26, and only at certain stations, but entry is free.

The train is broken into themes for each car:
  • Car 1: A 100 Years of Keihan Trains
    Follows the 100-year history of Keihan trains starting with the opening of the line from Tenmabashi, Ōsaka to Gojō, Kyōto on April 15, 2010.
  • Car 2: Historic Station Scenes
    An exhibit of historic photographs of station scenes on the Keihan network, together with current views.
  • Car 3: Keihan Limited Express Special Exhibit
    Places the spotlight on Keihan’s limited expresses, introducing the rolling stock historically used for limited express services as well as railway equipment. In addition, train service signs used on Keihan trains will also be on display.
  • Car 4: Out and About on Keihan
    Displays historic posters and pamphlets produced by the railway introducing sightseeing spots along the Keihan network, including Kyōto and Lake Biwa.
  • Car 5: Keihan Train Goods
    A collection of original goods and other items for sale.
Tour of the Museum Train at Nakanoshima Station:


Source: 89furu on YouTube
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:12 AM   #1631
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Kyōto City finalizes tenant mix for new retail space inside Shijō Station
http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/economy/ar...20100818000168

Quote:
On August 18, the Kyōto City Transportation Bureau announced that two stores including popular doughnut shop Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will lease retail space inside Shijō Station on the Municipal Subway (Shimogyō Ward) currently under construction. Six shops including a supermarket and cafe had already been selected, and together with the two latest additions, all the retail spaces have been filled.

Krispy Kreme is a United States-based chain restaurant and enjoys popularity in Japan especially among the younger generation. The Shijō Station branch will mark the chain’s second branch in the Kansai area following the April opening of its Shinsaibashi (Ōsaka City) store. Accessories and general goods store INDEX will take the final tenant space.

Joining the two stores in the connecting exit to the Hankyū Line one level underground will be flower shop Aoyama Flower Market and bakery shop SIZUYA. Supermarket Seijō Ishii, massage center Raffine, and Cafe Stagione, which will also offer alcohol during the evening, will enter space on the second underground level currently used as a mechanical room.

With the aim of increasing revenue for the subway, which is struggling financially, the city’s Transportation Bureau is proceeding with construction of approx. 1,200 sq m of retail space to be known as Kotochika. The Bureau will receive lease payments and a cut of the store sales, and is hoping for annual sales on the order of approx. ¥150 million.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:15 AM   #1632
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Fare reductions being considered on Ōsaka Municipal Subway
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/lo...0051000-n1.htm

Quote:
On August 22, Ōsaka City mayor Hiramatsu Kunio revealed to press reporters that he has instructed the Ōsaka Municipal Transportation Bureau to reduce one-station journey fares on the Ōsaka Municipal Subway from the current ¥200 to ¥100. The aim of the program is to encourage short-distance journeys, helping to revitalize areas around the Kita and Minami districts and curb illegally-parked bicycles, a major concern for the city. The mayor plans on incorporating the proposed fare reduction into the municipal finance reform plan to be published this fall. The fare reduction would be the cornerstone element in the strategy to improve Municipal Subway service.

According to Mayor Hiramatsu, the proposal to convert one-station journeys on the Municipal Subway to “one-coin” fares has some top brass in the Municipal Transportation Bureau concerned about “resulting declines in revenues.” However, Mayor Hiramatsu expressed his strong desire to see the program implemented: “By increasing convenience, we increase the value of the Municipal Subway. I will seek to put more pressure on the Transportation Bureau.”

In addition, in order to allow passengers to get off at intermediate stations to do shopping in the underground retail arcades in the Kita and Minami areas, the current 30 minute time limit for transferring between the Umeda area subway stations on the Midōsuji Line, Yotsubashi Line, and Tanimachi Line would be extended to three hours. The mayor also hopes to implement a similar system to allow passengers to get off temporarily at Namba area stations.

In regards to the privatization of the Municipal Subway being heralded by local political party Ōsaka Restoration Association (Representative: Ōsaka Prefecture governor Hashimoto Tōru), Mayor Hiramatsu did not change his stance so far, saying that “it is not out of the question in the future.” However, he said that “it is a little early to be discussing management structure,” indicating that he has no intention to include subway privatization in the municipal finance reform plan—including options such as a public-private partnership where only the operations are privatized.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:17 AM   #1633
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Governor Hashimoto criticizes Mayor Hiramatsu’s reduced fare proposal for Ōsaka Municipal Subway
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/lo...1234003-n1.htm

Quote:
In response to the news that Ōsaka City mayor Hiramatsu Kunio plans on reducing the one-station journey fares on the Municipal Subway from the current ¥200 to ¥100, on August 24 Ōsaka Prefecture governor Hashimoto Tōru criticized Mayor Hiramatsu’s policy, saying, “The only people who will benefit from the ¥100 fare are Ōsaka City residents. This isn’t reform.”

Mayor Hiramatsu intends to implement the fare reduction, claiming that “increasing convenience for passengers can improve the value of the subway.” There is hope that the fare reduction will attract customers traveling short distances who had since been using bicycles. Furthermore, as bicycle users switch to using the subway, the mayor also aims to reduce cases of illegally-parked bicycles, which have become a problem in Ōsaka City.

However, on August 24 Governor Hashimoto fiercely criticized the “Hiramatsu Plan,” arguing that a reduction in the fare to ¥100 provides no benefit to residents living outside of Ōsaka City: “The majority of subway users live outside of Ōsaka City. They never ride just one station.” Saying that the matter “could not be entrusted solely to City Hall,” Governor Hashimoto remarked, “Mayor Hiramatsu is only concerned about Ōsaka City residents. The subway should be handled by a region-wide administrative body.”
Perhaps Hashimoto is trying to force this issue as part of his vision for a regional government model in Ōsaka similar to the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government. While there is some merit to what he is saying, the subway was constructed and is funded by the municipal government, so I see nothing wrong Hiramatsu’s plan. The fact that the reduced fare proposal benefits Ōsaka City residents most because they are more likely to make one-station journeys is only a side-effect.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:20 AM   #1634
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Ōsaka considers contracting out subway operations
http://www.asahi.com/national/update...008220045.html

Quote:
Ōsaka City has begun considering the possibility of privatizing the operations side of the Ōsaka Municipal Subway. Through a public-private partnership where the city retains ownership of the tracks and other infrastructure while spinning off the operations to a newly-established stock company formed by joint investment with various private railway companies, the city hopes to downsize the municipal workforce and improve service. The plan will be incorporated into a Municipal Finance Reform Policy (a five-year plan starting with 2011) to be released soon by Mayor Hiramatsu Kunio.

According to multiple top city officials, a plan has surfaced to establish new companies to operate the subway network, half-funded by the city and half-funded by JR West and the major private railways—Hanshin, Hankyū, Keihan, Kintetsu, and Nankai. If the proposal is realized, the city can eliminate the approx. 3,400 employees working in subway operations from the municipal payroll.

The new company would pay infrastructure usage fees to the city for use of the tracks, tunnels, and other infrastructure, and the city would use these fees to repay debt accumulated in the construction of the subway (outstanding balance is approx. ¥687.5 billion). The plan is to find ways to repay the debt faster than if the city retained responsibility for subway operations and paid the debt off using operating revenues. In addition, it is hoped that the private sector’s operating efficiencies would lead to improvements in passenger service, including fare reductions, and the revitalization of the Kansai region’s economy as a whole.

In 2008, the Kansai Association of Corporate Executives submitted a subway privatization proposal to Mayor Hiramatsu, and the city expects that “it will be able to gain support for the plan from the various railway companies and the financial world.” Starting in FY2011, the city would spend five years hammering out a detailed plan including the cost of infrastructure usage fees, with the plan entering effect as early as FY2016.

In order to repay the construction debt as quickly possible, in January 2007 the city revealed five different options for reforming the subway, including conversion to an independent administrative corporation and privatization. In November 2007, former mayor Seki Jun’ichi, who had made privatization of the subway a campaign promise, lost in the mayoral elections. At the time, the victorious Mayor Hiramatsu remarked, “For the time being, I want to look at ways to reform the subway while keeping it as a public enterprise, but I cannot deny privatization as an option in the future.”

Governor Hashimoto Tōru—representative for the Ōsaka Restoration Association, the local political party which won landslide victories in the City Council by-elections in May and July calling for a reorganization of Ōsaka’s prefectural and municipal government structures—also called for privatizing the subway, and has been critical of Mayor Hiramatsu’s administration up until now. The proposed public-private partnership is also aimed at combating Governor Hashimoto’s efforts while retaining possession of infrastructure originally constructed using heavy investment of tax money.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:22 AM   #1635
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Ōsaka Station construction updates

First, some updates from the outside (2010.09.06):
Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/



The canopy roof over the platforms is almost complete.





A few glass / metal sections left to cover up







East side.



Each of the platforms is getting outfitted with the white fabric canopies. Presumably they will take out the metal canopies in the middle once the new white canopies are completed.



This platform on the north side looks like it’s done.



They removed one through track here to make space for materials storage.



A few more pictures from platform level (2010.08):
Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

Looks great already, and there’s still work to do on the platforms.





The overhead section covered in scaffolding and netting is the elevated station concourse. You can see they’ve already started on the vertical access (stairwells, escalators, etc.).



On the Ōsaka Loop Line platforms, where you can see some steel elements already in place above the existing stairwell to the Central Gate.



Escalator under construction on Platforms 3 and 4.





Now on to the South Gate Building (2010.09):
Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/



Exterior on the upper floors looks mostly finished, but the bottom levels still have some work.



This will be the “South Gate” to the entire complex. You can see some of the escalators already in place connecting to the elevated station concourse.





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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:25 AM   #1636
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JR West 225-5000 series for Kansai Airport rapid service makes press debut

New series following the recent May 2010 debut of the 225-0 series scheduled to be used on shin-kaisoku (special rapid) service. The 225-5000 series is based on the 225-0 series, but will operate on Kansai Airport rapid services on the JR Ōsaka Loop Line and JR Hanwa Line. The order is for a total of 29 units, 116 cars, all to be stationed at Hineno Yard. The units will be compatible with the 223-2000 series, so it’s likely we will see mixed trains.
Source: http://rail.hobidas.com/blog/

At the Kinki Sharyō plant. Cab design is mostly the same as the 225-0 series, but with a slightly different impression thanks to removal of the beltline wrapping around onto the front. Trains are split into four-car units, but like the 225-0 series, it is a 0.5M distribution where each car is powered, but only on one bogie per car.



The 225-0 series, same angle, for comparison. The 225-0’s are higher powered (130 kph) to be able to hold down the shin-kaisoku runs, but the speed was brought down to 120 kph (and double-disc brakes changed to single-disc brakes) for the 225-5000 series.



Another comparison in profile view. 225-0 series looks somewhat drab, albeit traditional, in comparison.





Seating configuration is 2+1 like the 223-2000 series to permit a wider aisle for passengers with luggage. Otherwise, the interior looks mostly the same as the 225-0 series: more and larger standee rings; rounded seat handles; large accessible restroom; lowered overhead racks; and LCD screens hanging from the ceiling.



For comparison, the interior of the 225-0 series.



Single-seat side.



Door area. Unlike the 225-0 series, there are no flip seats here.



Accessible restroom.



VVVF controller. The blue beltline features a fade-out of white dots.



Cabin is basically the same as 225-0 series.



Undergoing official testing at Tokuan and Kakogawa Stations:


Source: tobu2181 on YouTube
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:27 AM   #1637
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Toyama Light Rail stations attendants inside streetcars
http://www.chunichi.co.jp/hokuriku/a...002000139.html

Quote:
On August 19, Toyama Light Rail (HQ: Toyama City) deployed four female “Portram Attendants” responsible for assisting passengers and distributing sightseeing information on Portram streetcars. The program is aimed at improving service for passengers and increasing ridership, and the attendants will be on board trains during the midday period on weekdays and weekends until March of next year.

The goal of the project is to improve service for elderly passengers, who comprise half of all passengers during the midday period, as well as for visitors. Because all 13 tram stops on the line, which stretches from Toyama-eki-kita to Iwasehama, are unstaffed, Toyama City contracted out the attendant duties to Toyama Light Rail using Emergency Employment Creation Project grant money.

The four attendants are all between 24 and 31 years of age and live in Toyama Prefecture. All four have been in training since late July, learning information on tourist landmarks, sign language, and how to maneuver wheelchairs for the elderly or the physically-disabled when boarding and alighting.

At a special ceremony held at Toyama-eki-kita tram stop before the launch of the service, Yoshioka Eri (27) from Tateyama Town smiled and addressed the crowd, representing herself and the other three attendants: “I hope to do my best to have everyone truly enjoy and become attached to the Portram.” After the ceremony, the four attendants, in matching uniforms, distributed commemorative one-day tickets shaped like uchiwa fans to passengers disembarking from the tram.

As the first in line to board the trams, attendant Ōizumi Tamie (27) from Toyama City departed Toyama-eki-kita tram stop at 10:00 am. After making in-train announcements and providing sightseeing information on Iwase, she politely assisted an elderly passenger who boarded pushing a cart, asking where she was going.

Excepting the morning and evening rush hour, one attendant each will be present on 16 trains every weekday and 15 trains every Saturday, Sunday, and holiday. Toyama Light Rail has said it plans to “consider extending the program (past March of next year) if the response is favorable.” Similar attendants are also in service aboard Echizen Railway (HQ: Fukui City) and Hokuriku Railroad (HQ: Kanazawa City) trains.

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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:28 AM   #1638
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Nagoya City announces bus restructuring plan in preparation for Sakuradōri Line extension
http://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/ai...802000025.html

Quote:
On July 27, the City of Nagoya Transportation Bureau revealed to the City Council’s Public Works and Transportation Committee a draft plan for restructuring bus lines in coordination with the Municipal Subway Sakuradōri Line extension (Nonami – Tokushige). Twelve lines duplicating service on the subway extension would be eliminated or shortened, 14 lines would be newly-established lines or realignment of existing routes to connect to the nearest new station, and another four lines would see a reduction in the number of services, resulting in a total of 30 affected lines.

In addition to construction of four stations at Naruko-Kita, Aioiyama, Kamisawa, and Tokushige, the extension project would also construct a new Naruko-Kita Bus Terminal and a Tokushige Transport Plaza for shared use between taxis and private automobiles. The plan is designed to improve convenience and streamline bus operations, designed on the basic concept of prioritizing fast transfer connections at the nearest subway station.

As a result of route changes, new bus stops will be established at Araike 2-chōme, Araike Ryokuchi Kōen, Kaminokura Akamatsu, Kumanomae-Kita, Nakahira 5-chōme, Narumimachi – Kaminokura, Narumimachi – Sasazuka, Hirabari-minami 2-chōme, and Midorigaoka Kōen Kaikan (all temporary names). One stop—Uchihamachō (Shiorichō, Mizuho Ward)—will be eliminated.

According to the city’s Transportation Bureau, the current operating performance of the 30 lines in question is approx. ¥778 million in the red. With the opening of the new extension, the city will lose approx. ¥430 million in revenues, but through restructuring of the bus network, will be able to contain the deficit increase to approx. ¥78.8 million.

In order to incorporate feedback from users and compile a final plan, the Transportation Bureau will publish the draft plan on the city’s homepage in the near future, as well as hold three local workshop sessions.
Nagoya Municipal Subway network (Sakuradōri Line extension is in dotted red):


Source: Transportation Bureau, City of Nagoya

New 6050 series trains in service on the Sakuradōri Line (see here for details):


Source: WL7011 on YouTube
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:32 AM   #1639
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Aomori City to boost bus service for Shinkansen extension
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/aom...OYT8T00084.htm

Quote:
In response to JR East’s release of the planned schedule for the Tōhoku Shinkansen extension, on September 7 Aomori City revealed that it will have 70 trips on the Aomori Municipal Bus system connect to Shin-Aomori Station. In addition, the city also revealed plans to run two daily roundtrips of an express bus linking the new station with the Asamushi Onsen hot springs. The city will publish a final schedule by mid-November.

According to the city, there are 138 daily Municipal Bus trips traveling on prefectural roads near Shin-Aomori Station. Among these, the city will modify 70 trips outside of the early morning and late evening periods to serve the new station. Of these, 36 trips will connect to inbound (Tōkyō-bound) Shinkansen trains and 34 will connect to outbound Shinkansen trains. Foreseeing possible delays to do snow, the city is considering to have buses connecting with inbound trains arrive at the station 40 minutes before Shinkansen departures. Buses connecting to outbound trains are scheduled to depart 15 minutes after Shinkansen arrival.

In addition, for the convenience of guests staying at Asamushi Onsen, the express bus service is designed as a roundtrip service, departing Asamushi during the morning (check-out period) and departing Shin-Aomori Station n the afternoon (check-in period). The bus will also stop at major bus stops within Aomori’s urban zone, making it an easy-to-use option for business travelers.

At a September 7 press conference, Mayor Shikanai Hiroshi remarked, “We wanted to secure a secondary transport access while still coordinating with private-sector bus companies.”

Meanwhile, Aomori Prefecture is scheduled to open a Shinkansen Secondary Transport Improvements Conference composed of transport operators on September 14, kicking into gear discussions towards structuring secondary transport.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 09:35 AM   #1640
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Seismic reinforcement and partial restoration of Otaru Station to begin in September
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/ne...OYT1T00076.htm

Quote:
JR Otaru Station, home to a station building that is the oldest steel-reinforced concrete building in Hokkaidō and known for its retro atmosphere, will be partially renovated and restored to its appearance when first constructed, in coordination with seismic reinforcement works.

Otaru Station was built in 1934, and its atrium-style hall and other elements still retain much of their early Shōwa Era character. In 2006, the station building and platforms were selected by the national government as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property.

According to JR Hokkaidō, the upcoming renovation will return the station building to the symmetric design at the time it was first built, and interior layout will also be modified dramatically. The Midori no Madoguchi (special ticket counter) and passenger waiting room will be relocated next to the entrance.

Construction will begin in September and is expected to be completed in spring 2012. As temporary fencing will be in place while construction proceeds, the faregates and platforms will continue to be in use.

In its former design, the station building at Otaru Station used to be symmetrical. (Courtesy of the Otaru City General Museum)



Otaru Station, as it is currently.

Otaru Station is only about 35 km away from JR Sapporo Station and central Sapporo City, and there is frequent service on the Hakodate Main Line between Otaru and Sapporo, including “Airport” rapid trains to / from New Chitose Airport.

Quick tour of Otaru Station.


Source: hokkaidoch on YouTube

Otaru Station is also the scene of a rare event in Japan: coupling between EMU and DMU units.
Kiha 201 series DMUs couple with 731 series EMUs and heads for Sapporo.


Source: ayokoi on YouTube
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