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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:16 AM   #1761
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Kishibe Station construction updates: Part 3

2010.09.12:
Source: http://kaze.blog.eonet.jp/

Arches are all in place.





2010.09.19:
Source: http://kaze.blog.eonet.jp/

Scaffolding is up to allow them to work on the railings, canopy, etc. Wonder what type of material they will use... The semi-transparent membrane-type seems to be a more and more popular choice for pedestrian bridges and platforms.



2010.09.28:
Source: http://kaze.blog.eonet.jp/

This is the existing underground ped / bike tunnel beneath the freight tracks, now with some signs of construction work.



Apparently, they will be building a new entrance to the underground tunnel closer to the North Exit station plaza, improving cross-station access for bikes.



View from the existing platforms, where work on the bridge is inching closer to the station and they are excavating foundations for the columns to support the bridge and elevated concourse.



Based on the row of piles they've pounded in here, they're apparently going to extend the platform outwards



In addition to the space directly underneath the canopy, they are also apparently building an exterior catwalk on both sides for people to walk along. The part that bulbs out is the "rest space" in the renderings.



Another part of the canopy frame prepped and ready to be raised.



2010.10.10:
Source: http://kaze.blog.eonet.jp/

Future stairwell and escalator



2010.10.17:
Source: http://kaze.blog.eonet.jp/

Red arrow: Recently-erected column support
Yellow arrows: Supports for platform extension.



North Exit shaping up...

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:17 AM   #1762
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New ekinaka opens inside Shijō Station on Kyōto Municipal Subway
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/kink...0156004-n1.htm

Quote:
A grand opening ceremony was held September 30 in preparation for the October 1 opening of retail facility Kotochika Shijō inside Shijō Station (Shimogyō Ward, Kyōto City) on the Kyōto Municipal Subway. Kyōto City mayor Kadokawa Daisaku was present at the ceremony, and the sparkling-new facility and shop interiors were opened to the public.

The concept behind Kotochika Shijō is "making underground space exciting and thrilling." The facility will open with the goal of redesigning the image of underground stations and helping rehabilitate the Municipal Subway's financial condition.

Cafes, fashion stores, and other shops have leased space inside Kotochika Shijō. A total of eight stores—including four stores making their first entry into the Kyōto area, such as Krispy Kreme Donuts and Seijō Ishii—will open inside the facility, specifically targeting women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Shiomi Yasuhiro of the City of Kyōto Transportation Bureau's Planning Section says, "We want to make this a lively atmosphere that invites people to visit the station. We hope this will become a catalyst for revitalizing all of Kyōto."
Apparently, another article from Kyōto Shimbun is saying that daily entries and exits at Shijō Station are now up by about 6,500 over the same time last year, thanks to the new ekinaka. Perhaps a little too early to tell, but seems like a good sign.

I heard there were waits of four hours to get into Krispy Kreme... I guess they made the right choice in selecting them as a tenant.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:18 AM   #1763
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Kintetsu Kyōto Station construction updates

A few pictures of the construction going on at Kintetsu Kyōto Station. A new hotel is going in directly above the station, and there will be various improvements to the station itself.
Source: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/so-long7/

When completed, the hotel will stretch approx. 170 m long, creating an interesting "canyon" effect together with JR Kyōto Station upon arriving at Kyōto on a JR train. The hotel itself is quite narrow (only about 10 m wide) and supposed to cater to business travelers, but when finished, I can easily imagine staying here for a day just to watch all the train action.





Still not a lot going on in the middle and the west end of the site, although I think they're growing bit-by-bit. It's hard to tell from this angle, but it looks like these sections might already be on the second or third story.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:19 AM   #1764
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Kintetsu celebrates 100th anniversary
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/bus...1123005-n1.htm

Quote:
On September 16, in celebration of its 100th anniversary, Kinki Nippon Railroad (Kintetsu Corporation) began the Kintetsu 100-year History Exhibition and Railroad Festival 2010 at Kintetsu Department Stores' Uehonmachi store. Historical items including tickets, sections of rail, maps, posters, headmarks, and other items from the very beginnings of the railway and stored in its possession will be on display until September 21.

Founded in 1910 (Meiji 43), Kintetsu would go on to open the Ikoma Tunnel, at the time regarded as a difficult feat, opening the Uehonmachi ‒ Nara section in 1914. For three years starting in 1944, the railway was even merged with Nankai Railway (now Nankai Electric Railway).

In addition to rails engraved with manufacturing dates in 1912, the exhibit features a variety of other items on display, including the strange route maps during the period the railway was merged with Nankai and a 1962 headmark from the Aozora group charter train frequently used by school fieldtrips from Ōsaka to the Ise area.

Takagi Shigeyuki (64) from Abeno Ward, Ōsaka City, who came to visit the exhibition, reminisced of the past: "For many years now, I've been using Kintetsu practically daily... All the memories are coming back to me."

Left: Special headmarks used on trains
Right: A 1930 poster advertising the opening of the full length of the line between Ōsaka and Yamada (now Ise City)



Left: Original towels for sale, printed with train rollsigns
Right: Historic train timetables



Left: Old pamphlet advertising Kintetsu's Vista Cars
Right: Fans stare at historic timetables on display



Left: Old rail manufactured in 1912 and engraved with "Carnegie," probably of Carnegie Steel Company or related heritage
Right: Kintetsu model trains on display

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:20 AM   #1765
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More of Kintetsu's 100th anniversary

Set 1:
Source: http://hatiman.blog28.fc2.com/

Historic ad posters



Old ad for the new "Vista Car"



Network map of Kansai Express Railway, one of the predecessors in Kintetsu's convoluted past. Kintetsu has the largest private network Japan (excepting the JRs of course), spanning both the Ōsaka-Kyōto-Nara area on the left to the Nagoya area on the right.



1930s era pamphlets for the then-Nara Electric Railroad. It's always strange to see old documents like this, as the script is usually written right-to-left horizontally (this is rarely, if ever, done in modern Japanese) and uses older characters. I guess harvesting tubers was a popular pasttime?



Or grape-harvesting?



Set 2:
Source: http://k-conny.blog.so-net.ne.jp/

Special pamphlet for the 100th anniversary festivities
"Carrying your smiles, to now, and into the future."





Old-style railway maps advertising attractions along the network



Old timetables





They also had a scale model of the Abenobashi Terminal Building on display. This is currently under construction by Kintetsu and will be the tallest building in Japan when completed.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:21 AM   #1766
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New public passage and ekinaka open at JR Nara Station
http://www.asahi.com/travel/rail/new...009290149.html

Quote:
At JR Nara Station, which was elevated in March, an east-west connecting passage on the first and second levels of the station will open. A retail facility housing restaurants is also set to make its debut.

When passing east-west through the station, users were forced to use a temporary passage set up on the first floor of the station, but now, users can make their way through via an expansive passage, approx. 20 to 24 m wide. The second-floor section on the west end of the passage is directly connected to a pedestrian deck, allowing users to directly enter the Hotal Nikkō Nara.

On the first floor portion, retail facility Vierra Nara will open, featuring restaurants and a 24-hour parking facility. The color scheme of the facility features green, orange, and red—reminiscent of Nara's Yamato-cha tea and persimmons—and will be home to six stores, including a fast food restaurant, a standing bar featuring local sake and offering direct delivery to wine cellars, an izakaya bar, and a bistro.

The second-floor portion is scheduled to house a souvenir shop, bookstore, and other tenants.
New JR Nara Station:
Source: http://dkkawachi.blog58.fc2.com/







I think this tidbit got drowned out by the Kotochika opening... Hopefully one of my usual blog sources will drop by on their next set of rounds and take more pictures.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:22 AM   #1767
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Nabari City retailer tries out free shopper's shuttle program
http://mytown.asahi.com/mie/news.php...00521007270001

Quote:
APiTA in Nabari offers bus for stranded shoppers
In an effort to secure transport for "stranded shoppers" who have no transport options but to walk and yet have no stores within walking distance, APiTA's Nabari store in Kuroda, Shimo-Hinachi, Nabari City, along with its tenant stores, have joined forces to begin operation of a "free shoppers' shuttle" every Saturday. Just over a month after beginning the program, the shuttle seems to have helped increase store visitors and sales.

Two routes every Saturday; Increased store visitors and sales
On Saturday, June 19, a Mie Kōtsū bus bearing an "APiTA Shopper's Shuttle" sign rolled up outside APiTA's Nabari store, located along National Route 368 about 3 km away from Kintetsu Nabari Station.

One unemployed woman (76) from Tsutsujigaoka Minami Ichibanchō who boarded the bus said, "I used to come in my son's car to buy clothes, but with a bus, it's great because I can go at my own time."

The free shuttles, which began service on June 5, run two routes: a Suzurandai / Kikyōgaoka route through the city's northeastern neighborhoods in 27 minutes (one-way) and a Tsutsujigaoka route through housing estates in the city's southeastern neighborhoods in 20 minutes (roundtrip). The buses follow the routes of existing fixed-route buses, allowing passengers to board at existing bus stops, but passengers cannot alight from the bus until arriving at APiTA.

Nabari City is known for its bowl-shaped geography, surrounded by mountains. Located within one-hour's commuting distance to the Ōsaka metropolitan area, suburban housing developments sprouted up in the city during Japan's rapid post-war growth period. At Kikyōgaoka Estate, the oldest of the housing estates, tenants began moving in in 1965.

However, population aging is proceeding within the housing estates, and even in the Tsutsujigaoka area, which began development in 1976 and is now home to approx. 3,890 households and about 10,480 residents, 21.8 percent of the population are elderly. While below the city average of 22.1 percent, the area is located at 300 to 400 m altitude with steep hills, and life without a car is difficult. Suzurandai, home to about 3,900 residents, is also a hilly neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the stores also began feeling the pinch. APiTA opened in 1998 and proved popular as mass-merchandise store that combined fashion, food, and living, but with the debut of big-box home appliances retailers, home centers, and food supermarkets, sales have dropped to 80 percent of what they were five years ago. Faced with the situation, the tenant association drafted up plans for the free shuttle service.

Mie Kōtsū joined the program, offering to cut the typical price of leasing a bus (¥80,000 to ¥100,000) by more than half, since the contract is only for a one-year period.

Given 52 Saturdays a year and the need to increase hte number of buses if crowded, the operating costs for the service are approx. ¥2.5 million, but the total ridership for the five service days between June 5 and July 3 was 1,343. Buses bound for APiTA carried 145 passengers daily on average, beating out the stores' minimum of 60 passengers. Shop visitors have also increased nine percent year-over-year, and total store sales are up approx. 14 percent.

Store manager Ozaki Isao says, "We are looking at the possibility of increasing the number of days of operation or establishing new routes." There is also a plan to use the first-floor event hall as display space, hoping to make the space "not just for shopping, but also as a social space."

Chairman Ōhashi Ken (65) of the Suzurandai Life Support Club, a residents' association providing pick-up and drop-off service on weekdays for a fee, is hopefuly of the program's impact: "It's great that they can cover on Saturdays. If another large supermarket were to run a free shuttle, it would increase options for consumers."

Kuhara Hiroshi (64), chairman of the Tsutsujigaoka Area Local Council, was cautious of the impact to the supermarket located inside the housing estate, which has been supporting residents' livelihoods for years, but said the shuttle service was a "good program."

(Left) Shoppers with bags in hand board a bus on the return-trip. Depending on time period, a second bus is provided on the line.
(Center) Route map
(Right) A north-south road in Tsutsujigaoka, leading far below

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:23 AM   #1768
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Kintetsu Utsube Line / Hachiōji Line photos: Part 1

Photos of these two unusual tram-like lines in Kintetsu's network in the Nagoya area, which are narrow gauge 762 mm.
Source: http://rail.hobidas.com/blog/natori/

The first sections of the line were built in 1912 by Mie Railways, so the line will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary. It later became a part of Mie Kōtsū in 1944 when six railway companies merged, joining the likes of Hokusei Line (now part of Sangi Railway) and the now-defunct Matsusaka Line (abandoned after opening of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen in 1964) under one umbrella. While under Kintetsu ownership, a sister line on the same gauge, the Yunoyama Line, was eventually converted to standard gauge (1435 mm), while the Hokusei Line—also the same gauge, but constantly under the specter of abandonment—was eventually transferred over to Sangi Railway. As a result, the Utsube Line / Hachiōji Line is now Kintetsu's last remaining "special narrow gauge" line.

There are actually two lines; the 5.7 km Utsube Line linking Kintetsu Yokkaichi and Utsube via Hinaga, and the 1.3 km Hachiōji Line, which splits off at Hinaga and goes one station to Nishi-Hino. An additional 1.6 km of the Hachiōji Line from Nishi-Hino to Ise Hachiōji, the namesake of the line, was abandoned in 1976 after flood damage. The two are generally operated like on line with two branches.

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

These are rebuilt units from when the line was still a part of Mie Railways. This is between Utsube and Ogoso.



The terminus at Kintetsu Yokkaichi requires passengers transferring to the Nagoya Line and Yunoyama Line to pass the faregates first, through a connecting stairwell, and through another set of gates.



The platforms at Kintetsu Yokkaichi are located beneath the elevated tracks for the Kintetsu Nagoya Line and Yunoyama Line. The left side (Platform 9) is for the Utsube Line, while the right side (Platform 10) is for the Hachiōji Line.



All single-seat transverse seating. There are 14 cars in the fleet for the two lines, each only 15.6 m long. There are no AC units, just the windows and some ceiling fans.



At Hinaga, where an inbound Utsube Line train for Kintetsu Yokkaichi (right) connects cross-platform with an arriving outbound Hachiōji Line train for Nishi-Hino (left). The platform design is extremely unusual, as the station is located at the exact junction of the Utsube Line and Hachiōji Line. As a result, the Utsube Line has two straight side platforms, but one of them is connected to the singe side platform for the Hachiōji Line, which "forks" in on a 100 m radius curve (see here).



To deal with the sharp curves at Hinaga, the ends of the car are tapered slightly.



Spring switch south of Hinaga on the Utsube Line. Both lines are single-track, with passing tracks at stations.



Because the gauge is so narrow, they can't actually put the ground ATS equipment between the tracks, instead placing it to the left. The equipment on the car is also placed to the side.





The 14 total cars are arranged in five sets. Originally sporting Kintetsu colors, they were repainted in rainbow colors at the request of local nursery schools and day care centers.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:24 AM   #1769
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Kintetsu Utsube Line / Hachiōji Line photos: Part 2

Continued:
Source: http://rail.hobidas.com/blog/natori/

Three-car train waiting to depart Utsube Station. Just off to the right is the car yard and barn area. The 5.7 km between Yokkaichi and Utsube takes 16 minutes, an average speed of 21 kph.



Utsube Station. The passage of time has had little impact on the line, and most things are still as they were several decades ago.



However, some rationalization has resulted in staff downsizing. Currently, Yokkaichi and Utsube are the only staffed stations on the line.



Car barn.



While the line itself may have managed to stay relatively untouched, the surrounding area has seen growth in the past few decades, and has developed into a residential neighborhood. The large white building at right is a hospital.



Buffer stop at the south end of the station.



The scene 32 years ago at the station. The hospital was there at the time, but much smaller, and the trains sported Kintetsu red.



The surrounding area was still undeveloped farmland at the time, while in the distance are the industrial factories and plants of Yokkaichi City.



Cab view on a Hachiōji Line train (Kintetsu Yokkaichi to Nishi-Hino)
Source: AGUIMOVIE on YouTube

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:25 AM   #1770
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TOICA surpasses 1,000,000 cards in circulation
http://jr-central.co.jp/news/release/nws000614.html

Quote:
In regards to Central Japan Railway Company's IC farecard TOICA, since the debut of the system in the Nagoya area, JR Central has been gradually working to expand the card's services, including introducing the system to the Shizuoka area, launching interoperability with Suica and ICOCA, and inaugurating TOICA's electronic money service. On October 8, 2010, the total number of cards in circulation surpassed the 1,000,000 mark.

JR Central will continue to make TOICA even more convenient, including launching interoperability with SUGOCA and manaca and expanding the number of stores accepting TOICA electronic money. Please look forward to more improvements.

Details of TOICA
Service start date: November 25, 2006
Accepting stations: 148
Stores accepting electronic money: Approx. 2,200[LIST][*]Accepting stations and stores accepting electronic money are as of end of September 2010.[*]TOICA's electronic money service launched March 13, 2010.[*]Including Suica and ICOCA service areas, the card is accepted at a total of 1,385 stations.[*]Including stores accepting Suica and ICOCA, TOICA's electronic money service is accepted at approx. 90,700 stores.

History
  • 2006 November: Service launched in Nagoya area (74 stations)
  • 2008 March: Service launched in Shizuoka area (39 stations); launch of farecard interoperability with Suica and ICOCA and the "IC Transfer Service" at transfer gates between conventional lines and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen
  • March 2010: Expansion of the service area (portions of the Gotemba Line, Minobu Line, Iida Line, and Takayama Main Line, as well as the Taita Line); launch of Shinkansen ticketing service with TOICA commuter passes and start of TOICA's electronic money service (launched together with interoperability with Suica and ICOCA electronic money services)

Upcoming Schedule
  • Winter 2011: Introduction of electronic money service at Circle K and Sunkus stores in Shizuoka Prefecture, Mie Prefecture, and Gifu Prefecture (late January 2011)
  • Spring 2011: Introduction of interoperability in farecard and electronic money functionality with SUGOCA, and launch of electronic money service at 7-11 stores in the Tōkai area
  • Spring 2012: Launch of farecard interoperability with manaca and issuance of IC joint commuter passes
  • Spring 2013: Electronic money interoperability with manaca
JR Central CM promoting TOICA's electronic money service:
Source: a301m088 on YouTube

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:26 AM   #1771
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Toyota City to introduce Toyota-manufactured fuel-cell hybrid bus in trial service
http://www.asahi.com/eco/NGY201009300007.html

Quote:
In an effort to increase public awareness regarding the environment, starting October 1 Toyota City will operate its first fuel-cell bus on a major trunk bus line. On September 30, a special ceremony celebrating the start of service was held. The vehicle is on loan to the city from Toyota Motor Corporation free of charge, and will be in service for at least until the end of the fiscal year. The bus is scheduled to run for about 15 days in October and five days in November, and Toyota Motor Corporation hopes to obtain user opinions and operating data, later using the information in the mass production of the buses.

Fuel-cell buses combine hydrogen and airborne oxygen in a chemical reaction to produce electricity that runs the motors and moves the bus. During acceleration, batteries provide additional power. The buses produce no carbon dioxide or toxic substances, emitting only water when in operation.

The buses are fuel-cell hybrid buses jointly developed by Toyota and Hino Motors, with capacity for 62 passengers. After one hydrogen refueling, the buses can run for 200 to 250 km.

Meitetsu Bus will operate the vehicle on a new trunk bus line—the Toyota East Loop Line—scheduled to debut on October 1. The line is 16.4 km long, traveling from Meitetsu Toyota-shi Station, via Itsutsugaoka Danchi and near Toyota headquarters to Mikawa Toyota Station on the Aichi Loop Line. In order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and relieve roadway congestion, Toyota City is also hoping that Toyota employees will use the new line.

In response to a reporter's question, Toyota Motor Corporation managing director Kodaira Nobuyori, who was present at the special debut ceremony, said, "I hope we can start mass production (of fuel-cell buses) in this decade," and noted that conditions for such a situation include technological developments and cost reduction, as well as establishment of hydrogen fueling station infrastructure. "We will have no problems producing fuel-cell buses. But in looking forward, I would like the national government and local jurisdictions to begin thinking about the necessary infrastructure improvements."

In addition, in regards to Toyota employees using the new bus, Kodaira responded, "We'll reduce the number of shuttle buses (operated by the company) and take other measures, so of course, our employees will be using the bus."

The fuel-cell bus will be in service in October from October 1-15, running three roundtrips a day. The schedule is available on the MichiNavi Toyota homepage.

According to Toyota's marketing, this is the second time fuel-cell buses have been introduced on fixed-route buses in local jurisdictions, following Tōkyō Prefecture (August 2003 - December 2004).
I believe they have already been running the same fuel cell bus models for the Aichi World Expo and on services in and around Centrair airport, but now they are testing the line in regular trunk route service. They added a few things to it to prep it for the new service.

Pics:
Source: http://ameblo.jp/hbv502/













They added this... Not sure exactly what it is, though. Also, the seatbelts are new.



Added a Meitetsu Bus card reader.



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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:27 AM   #1772
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Toyama City's Centram recognized by MLIT's Japanese Railway Awards
http://www.asahi.com/travel/rail/new...010010477.html

Quote:
In the Ninth Japanese Railway Awards administered by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and railway operators, Toyama City and Toyama Chihō Railroad, which operate the Centram streetcars running through central Toyama City, were awarded the Selection Committee's Special Award. The committee recognized their contribution to the revitalization of the central core of the city through the completion of the loop line in December of last year. This is Toyama City's second award, following the Toyama Light Rail's selection for the top award—the Japan Railway Award—in 2006.

On October 1, the MLIT announced the winning groups. The Japanese Railway Awards recognize railway operators and groups that have contributed to the development of railways, and there were 22 nominations this year from all across Japan.

The Centram is an approx. 3.4 km loop line beginning at JR Toyama Station and traveling counterclockwise via Grand Plaza-mae in the Sōgawa area. In December of last year, the city laid approx. 900 m of new track between the Marunouchi intersection and the Nishichō intersection, taking the existing U-shaped line and creating a loop.

In addition to revitalization of the central city, the city hopes to build a city that isn't reliant on cars, citing the advancing trend of population aging. Average daily ridership increased by approx 1,000 passengers above the 10,000 before the loop line was completed.

The public-private partnership structure where the city lays track and Toyama Chihō Railroad operates the trains was recognized in this latest award, along with the use of new low-floor trams and efforts to revitalize central Toyama City.

The city's Streetcar Promotion Office said, "Using this latest award as a catalyst, I hope we can work together with people involved in commerce and business in the central city to advance attractive urban development."
More Centram videos, from inside and out:


Source: studiotwain on YouTube


Source: kiha52 on YouTube
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:28 AM   #1773
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Issues remain over Toyama City program to increase service on JR Takayama Line
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/toy...009170421.html

Quote:
In an effort to test ways to revitalize the JR Takayama Line running through Toyama City, the city's field trial program to increase the number of trains and establish new stations will come to a close this fiscal year. In the four years after the start of the program, ridership has increased 9.5 percent compared to before the field trial. Based on the results, the city has entered into talks with JR West to continue the increased service primarily during time periods where it had the largest impacts, such as the morning rush hour, but many obstacles remain, including the actual number of trains and how to divy up the expenses.

The field trial was launched in October 2006. Currently, the number of trains on the Toyama — Etchū Yatsuo section has been increased by over 20 trains from before the field trial, resulting in roughly a train every 30 minutes.

Daily ridership in FY2009 was 2,672, a 9.5 percent increase over numbers in FY2005, before the trial program entered service. If only limiting the discussion to weekdays, average daily ridership as of April of this year was 4,344 passengers, a 22 percent increase from before the trial. In particular, commuter ridership during the morning (7:00 to 8:00 am) and evening (6:00 to 7:00 pm) rush hours increased.

In 2008, a new station, Fuchū Usaka Station, was established between Nishi-Toyama Station and Hayahoshi Station. Ridership at the new station is on the increase, reaching 229 passengers daily (weekdays) in April of this year.

Together with the field trial, the city established park-and-ride facilities at four stations. In a survey this year, 106 spaces, or over 80 percent of the capacity of the parking facilities, were occupied. In a 2008 questionnaire, 40 percent of weekday parking facility users said they previously took their car all the way to their destination, but switched from private auto to the train. At the September City Council meeting, the city said, "There was some definite impact."

Meanwhile, Toyama City is bearing the costs related to the increased service, which were ¥130 million in FY2009. The city has a contractual agreement with JR that the railway return any increase in fare revenues above the FY2005 levels (before the trial program), receiving a little over ¥19 million in FY2008 and a little over ¥15 million in FY2009.

However, in order to recoup the entire costs of increasing the number of trains, ridership needs to increase to 1.5 times the level before the trial program began.

Weekend and midday period (9:00 am to 5:00 pm) ridership remains largely unchanged from before the trial, and achieving 1.5 times the original ridership is beyond a lofty goal.

A little after 7:00 pm at Toyama Station. Students and salarymen stand out among those inside the train bound for Etchū Yatsuo. One male office worker from Fuchūmachi, Toyama City who uses the train to commute between Toyama and Hayahoshi says, "If the number of trains decreases when they end the program, ridership will be concentrated and trains will be more crowded. People have to pay more attention to the train schedules when deciding when to leave work, making it less convenient."

In a general question period at the September City Council session, the city said, "We hope to lobby JR West (to increase the service), with the aim of relieving crowding inside trains during peak hours, when commute traffic is high." The city plans to continue discussions with the railway focusing on the morning and evening rush hour, but the issues to come include how many trains to keep and during what time periods, as well as whether the city will bear the operating costs for the increased service.

Toyama City says it plans to continue operating the park-and-ride facilities. In regards to talks with JR West, the city hopes to obtain resolution by the end of November.
There's also a special webpage to promote the service improvements on the JR Takayama Line and get people to ride:
http://takayamasen.com/

Window view (2010.09.02) from a Takayama Main Line train between Toyama and Etchū Yatsuo. This is actually shot from a seasonal limited express train, the Owara, designed to ferry people to the Owara Kaze no Bon festival. This is also why there's a lot of chatter in the background. This particular train doesn't make any intermediate passenger stops on this section, but you can get a feel for what the line is like.
Source: aomonoya on YouTube



Pictures of Fuchū Usaka Station:
Source: http://blog583k.blog95.fc2.com/



Not bad for a provisional station...





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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:29 AM   #1774
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North Exit improvements at JR Kōfu Station complete
http://www.sannichi.co.jp/local/news/2010/08/05/1.html

Quote:
At the North Exit of JR Kōfu Station, the pedestrian deck (connecting the station building and Takeda-dōri) and station plaza under construction finally opened to the public on August 4. The facilities are set to become the backbone of Kōfu City's redevelopment of the North Exit. Hopes are high that the North Exit, once called the "back door" of Kōfu Station, will help revitalize the struggling core of Kōfu City.

The pedestrian deck consists of the main sections connected to the station building and canopied paths described as "elevated hallways." The main section stretches across approx. 780 sq m and features an information unit to provide tourist information, as well as a monument display that uses over 7,000 crystals. The canopied paths cover a total length of 140 m, and the canopies use the same material used for the roof of Tōkyō Dome.

Nagasawa Sachiko (30), who came to visit from Yamanashi City, said, "In the past, I didn't have much reason to visit the North Exit of Kōfu Station, but since they're going to build the Prefectural Library here as well, I'd love to come with my children one time."

As part of the North Exit redevelopment, a relocated Tōson Memorial Museum will open in October. A multi-purpose square will also be completed by the end of the year. By FY2012, the new Yamanashi Prefectural Library, retail facility Kōshū Yume-kōji, and the Kōfu Area Joint Government Building are scheduled to be completed, dramatically changing the face of the capital of Yamanashi Prefecture. However, prospects for a tenant corporation in the advanced information hub planned by the Prefectural Government next to the new Prefectural Library are dim, and that plan remains on the shelf.

Approx. 170 officials and others attended a special opening ceremony held on August 4. During his speech, Kōfu City mayor Miyajima Masanobu remarked, "The urban functions surrounding the station will become more developed, and this area will be born as a center full of charm and activity." In addition, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the NHK Kōfu Building to be constructed on the west side of the station plaza.
North Exit is also now completely accessible, with escalators and elevator. Apparently, this is the first pedestrian deck in Yamanashi Prefecture... Perhaps not surprising given the place is mostly mountains.

First set of photos:
Source: http://ameblo.jp/hiroki1122/











I'm a big fan of this deck... The canopy lets in quite a bit of light and the crossbar elements and arches help break it up visually and provide some depth.



Vehicle parking is tucked away underneath the station building.



Station plaza, freshly paved and neatly organized to maximize space. Waiting at the station at ground level is a Chūō Main Line train, while at the opposite South Exit, the main entrance to the station, is the large Eclan station tenant building.



Crystal display inside the station, now officially called "Crystal Earth" after a public naming competition. Kōfu is well known for its jewelry industry.
Source: http://ameblo.jp/torimotsu/

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:30 AM   #1775
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Rollout of Fukushima Kōtsū’s NORUCA farecard set for October 30
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/fuk...009150408.html

Quote:
Starting October 30, Fukushima Kōtsū will rollout its NORUCA IC farecard system on virtually all fixed-route buses in its network. The cards will be sold for ¥2,000 each and can store up to ¥20,000 in value.

NORUCA allows for automatic fare collection when boarding and alighting buses by touching the card to readers placed at the entrance and farebox of the bus, allowing for smoother boarding and alighting than when paying with cash. When first purchased, the card is loaded with ¥1,650 (the purchase price minus a ¥500 deposit, plus a 10% premium). Cards can be purchased at Fukushima Kōtsū offices as well as inside buses.

The name for the card comes from the Japanese phrase “basu ni noru ka-do” (lit. “card for riding the bus”), and was selected in an internal naming competition by the company, with the hope that passengers would take advantage of the bus network whenever possible (“Noru ka” means “Wanna ride?”). The design of the card uses the color blue—reminiscent of the blue sky and clear waters—together with the rhododendron, the official flower of Fukushima Prefecture.

With the rollout, the transit operator will also begin two new services: a Student Multiple-Ride Pass that provides a 20 percent discount for elementary, middle, and high school students and university or vocational school students; and a transfer discount that provides a ¥50 credit for adults and ¥30 credit for children when boarding another transit vehicle within one hour after alighting. Commuter pass functions are scheduled to launch in early 2011.

The current paper multiple-ride tickets, bus cards circulated inside Fukushima City, and IC card multiple-ride passes in Fukushima Prefecture will be gradually phased out beginning in July 2011, and refunds for pass value will be offered starting next month.

Fukushima Kōtsū is another one of the dinky local private transit operators scattered throughout Japan, operating in Fukushima Prefecture. In addition to buses, they operate a single rail line, the 9.2 km Iizaka Line connecting Fukushima Station and Iizaka Onsen Station, carrying both traffic bound for the hot springs at Iizaka as well as students and commuters. Peak period headways are 15 minutes, and 25-30 minutes for other times. All the trains on the line are ex-Tōkyū 7000 series.

Window view, outbound train:
Source: seigen120kaihin on YouTube

Part 1: Fukushima to Sasaya



Part 2: Sasaya to Iizaka Onsen



Window view, inbound train
Source: seigen120kaihin on YouTube

Part 1: Iizaka Onsen to Sakuramizu



Part 2: Sakuramizu to Fukushima

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #1776
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Sendai Airport Transit welcomes its first female train operator
http://www.asahi.com/travel/rail/new...010080579.html

Quote:
"Depart and advance. Time OK, boarding and alighting OK." An energetic voice sounds from inside the operator's cab. On October 8, Sendai Airport Transit connecting JR Sendai Station and Sendai Airport welcomed its first female operator.

On this day, the subject of the personnel appointment was Sasaki Yuki (32). When she joined the company eight years ago, she was a contract employee. A year later, after her superior told her that even women could become train operators, her aspirations took off: "I didn't want to be tapping keyboards everyday... I wanted to do something that only I could do."

In 2006, she retook the company examination and became a full-time employee. While fulfilling her duties serving information counters at stations, she continued to advertise her own desire to become a train operator. In 2009, her superior approved her to receive training to become an operator.

Becoming a train operator requires a nationally-administered license. First off, she tackled the written examination, receiving three months of training at JR's training center in Fukushima Prefecture starting in November 2009. In order to ask her superiors about items she didn't understand during the courses, she frequently commuted in on Saturdays and Sundays, eventually passing the test.

The next step was the practical skills, the most difficult being stopping the trains. Operators must stop the train at the exact location, and manipulating the braking force is no easy task. Braking also differs depending on the number of cars in the train. "Two-car trains and four-car trains are completely different. With four cars, it's like you're being pushed from behind."

In August of this year, Sasaki earned her train operator's license. On October 8, taking care that "passengers would have a comfortable ride," she operated her first roundtrip journey between Sendai Airport and Sendai. Her superior who was along for the ride was all smiles: "Absolutely perfect." Sasaki was not about to feel at ease, though: "This is only the beginning. I hope to be able to operate the train properly, even in snow or rain."
Window view, inbound train (Sendai to Sendai Airport):
Source: seigen120kaihin on YouTube



Outbound train (Sendai Airport to Natori):
Source: seigen120kaihin on YouTube

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:33 AM   #1777
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Kitaca expands reach in Hokkaidō
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/hok...OYT8T00006.htm

Quote:
Starting in October, the Kitaca farecard circulated by JR Hokkaidō and its electronic money functionality will also be accepted at vending machines and in taxis outside of Sapporo City.

For vending machines, Kitaca has been accepted at a portion of Coca-Cola vending machines in the Sapporo region since March 2009 through a joint service with Hokkaidō Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Starting in late October of this year, vending machines accepting electronic money will also be introduced into the Hakodate, Asahikawa, and Muroran areas, increasing the number of vending machines in Hokkaidō accepting Kitaca to approx. 1,000 units by the end of the year.

In addition, starting October 1 Kitaca reader units will be installed in three taxis operated by Hakodate Taxi, which operates taxis in the Hakodate area. This is the first time Kitaca will be accepted for taxi fare payments.

Preceding the introduction of Kitaca into taxis, Kitaca will also be accepted at other locations in the Hakodate area. Starting September 20, customers will be able to use Kitaca to pay for hotel rooms or meals at restaurants inside the Loisir Hotel Hakodate using Kitaca reader units installed at the front desk. Convenience store giant Sunkus will allow customers to pay with or charge up their Kitaca cards at its 194 stores stores in Hokkaidō.

According to JR Hokkaidō, Kitaca will be accepted for electronic money payment by approx. 2,000 locations in Hokkaidō by year’s end.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:36 AM   #1778
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Ridership on BRT along ex-Kashima Railway line falls below projections
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ib...202000072.html

Quote:
On October 1, a bus company study revealed that average daily ridership on the Kashitetsu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line, which converts the right-of-way of an abandoned local line operated by Kashima Railway into an exclusive bus right-of-way, is 1,128 passengers, far below the original target of 1,600 passengers. Ishioka City mayor Kubota Ken'ichi remarked, "News of the BRT opening (on August 30) has yet to trickle down to all the residents. I don't think it's a bad start."

Bus operator Kantetsu Green Bus studied ridership patterns from September 11 to September 17.

Weekday ridership of 1,128 passengers is a marginal 1.6 percent increase over the ridership performance on the same route when buses traveled on regular city roads in April of this year (1,100 passengers). Ridership on Saturdays and Sundays was 601 passengers, a 29.2 percent increase.

Average daily boardings and alightings at Ishioka Station, the terminus for the bus service, were 783 on weekdays and 473 on Saturdays and Sundays.

In the original BRT plan, daily average ridership was projected to be 1,600. The actual ridership performance falls far below these projections, but Mayor Kubota says, "It will take time for people to see the convenience of the line." In regards to Saturday and Sunday ridership, city officials explained, "We've got people who come in from outside the city who are curious about the BRT and want to try it out, and we've also got users and visitors to Ibaraki Airport."

The Kashima Railway was abandoned in 2007. The new BRT service is the first publicly-built, privately-operated BRT system in Japan, and Ishioka City, Omitama City, and Ibaraki Prefecture constructed the 5.1 km section between Ishioka Station and Shikamura Station as the first phase. There are 112 trips daily on weekdays.
BRT bus front window view, from Shikamura Station to Ishioka Station. I hadn't realized this, but most of the ROW is one-lane wide... Makes sense since the original train line was only single-track. There's plenty of turnouts, though, so it doesn't seem like it will be a problem at all. Looks like they haven't quite finished construction of passenger amenities like shelters, etc. Perhaps they were rushed to get some sort of bus service improvements to Ibaraki Airport.


Source: kishapoppostaff on YouTube

Overview of the abandoned line, and the construction to convert the ROW to buses. This is actually a promotional video for a railfan book. Hard to think this line was only abandoned in 2007.


Source: JTBpublishing on YouTube
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:37 AM   #1779
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Abandoned Tōbu Sano Line branch line to be converted to roadway
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/toc...009300493.html

Quote:
In the urbanized districts of the former Kuzū Town (now Sano City), a railway route that has ended its duty is getting ready to embark on its second life. Tochigi Prefecture is looking to redevelop the right-of-way as a prefectural road bypass, and expects to break ground three to four years from now.

The route being considered for redevelopment into a prefectural road is a branch line extending approx. 800 m northeast from Kuzū Station, the terminus of the Tōbu Sano Line. The right-of-way is about ten to 15 m wide and single-track, and was used up until 1997 as a siding serving a cement factory. Before being abandoned, freight trains loaded with rubble and coal apparently traveled back and forth along the line, but with the conversion to transport by truck, the track was no longer required.

The former Kuzū Town purchased the right-of-way from Tōbu Railway for approx. ¥120 million with the aim of constructing a town road and carrying out land readjustment, and it is currently city property. Up until now, there have been several discussions about how to reuse the right-of-way, but with the annexation of the town into Sano City, the plans were put on hold. Currently, the tracks have already been removed, and parts of the right-of-way are used as a recreational path by local residents.

The plan would transfer control of the right-of-way to Tochigi Prefecture and improve it as part of a prefectural road bypass stretching approx. 3.5 km in total length. Owing to the large number of cement factories in the vicinity, the plan calls for making large trucks which currently travel along the main prefectural road cutting through the urbanized area instead detour onto the bypass. Tochigi Prefecture's Transport Policy Section explains, "If we can prevent congestion in the urbanized area caused by large trucks, it will lead to smoother cement transport and improved safety for the neighborhoods. We have empty land sitting here, so we'd love to put it to effective use." By the end of the fiscal year, the Prefectural Government will finalize the basic details of the project, hoping to break ground in three to four years.

However, while some local residents say the bypass will "bring convenience," others are doubtful of the need for the bypass.

One woman (76) living in the urbanized area says, "About 20 years ago, they opened the bypass on the west side, and they eliminated the congestion in the center of town. I don't see the need to throw good money away on a project that's not needed."

One man (68) who runs a business along the abandoned right-of-way says, "Putting local resources to good use is a good thing. But I'd rather have them convert it into a recreational path for pedestrians and bicyclists that elderly folks can enjoy walking along."
Window view on a Sano Line train. At the beginning, there are some clips of the abandoned track and right-of-way, as well as the cement factory in the distance.
Source: seigen120kaihin on YouTube

Part 1: Kuzuu to Sano



Part 2: Sano to Tatebayashi

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:38 AM   #1780
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Izu City accepts public suggestions on Shuzenji Station improvements
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/shi...008230354.html

Quote:
Izu City is accepting public suggestions for the design of the new station building at Izu Hakone Railway's Shuzenji Station in Izu City. Together with improvements to the station surroundings, the city wants people to submit their vision for the station as the "gateway to Izu" and plans to incorporate the ideas into the final design. The lead agency, the city's Land Strategy Section, says, "For example, you can tell us that Shuzenji Temple reminds you of shiitake mushrooms... We just want people to send us all their visions for the station building that draw from elements of the exterior of Shuzenji Temple."

The current station building is a two-story structure constructed in 1983. Only the south side of the station has an access point, and citing the lack of general vehicular parking in the station plaza and other reasons, Izu City has been considering improvements to the surrounding area since 2003 in order to improve convenience. The proposal calls for creating a new approx. 4,000 sq m plaza on the north side of the station and expanding the the existing south-side plaza. The station building would be approximately doubled in size to a 1,300 sq m footprint, and be redesigned to allow people to pass north-south through the station.

In the design contest, the city is asking for design ideas and images for the new station building and north and south plazas using words. The contest targets both individuals and groups, and anyone who resides in Japan can enter. After a second round of evaluations, the city will select one grand prize, three superior prizes, and two special prizes (for elementary and middle school students). The winning ideas will be incorporated into the design for the station building and plazas as feasible, and the grand prize winner will have the right to leave his or her name in the new plaza.
I'm a little late on this and they already announced the winners. But here's the renderings of the new station:
Source: Izu City

Expansion of the south plaza:
- Increasing pickup / dropoff space and allowing for smooth maneuvering of large vehicles
- Clear delineation of public transit and regular traffic areas to make the rotary easier to use
- Establishment of clear right-of-way rules in the rotary, increasing traffic safety



Construction of a new north plaza:
- Segregation of regular traffic from public transit, relieving rotary congestion
- Construction of a parking facility to improve the convenience of Shuzenji Station
- Through construction of a plaza, creation of an active space and appropriate scenery for Izu



Station west plaza and establishment of a tourist information office:
- Through the station west plaza, connection of the north and south plazas, improving the convenience of Shuzenji Station
- By designing the plaza as an indoor space, creation of a comfortable and safe activity space
- Establishment of a tourist information office, strengthening the station as the gateway to Izu

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