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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:38 AM   #1781
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Use of station melodies expanding in Kanagawa Prefecture
http://www.asahi.com/travel/rail/new...009240284.html

Quote:
Along the various railway lines within Kanagawa Prefecture, more and more of the chimes and buzzers that indicate the arrival and departure of trains are gradually being switched out with melodies, now numbering 20 stations. The Astro Boy theme song at JR Takadanobaba Station and Kamata Kōshinkyoku at Kamata Station are famous examples, but Kanagawa Prefecture, not one to lose a fight, is now turning locally-rooted "station melodies" into a way to enliven local communities.

From July to August at Futamatagawa Station on the Sōtetsu Line, original jazz songs played when trains approached station platforms. The composer is Mukaiya Minoru, keyboardist for one of Japan's top fusion bands, Cassiopeia. Futamatagawa is the center of the Asahi Jazz Festival, and the program is designed to bring the community together around jazz. Explaining the idea behind the program, Sōtetsu respresentatives say, "Anything we can do to help enliven the community is a good thing." At Hakone Tozan Railway, the railway has been using Taki Rentarō's Hakone Hachiri since March 2000 at Odawara, Gōra, and other stations to "create a vacation atmosphere."

One step ahead of the group is Enoshima Electric Railway, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the full length of its line from Fujisawa to Kamakura in November of this year. Using lyrics and a melody selected from a public campaign, the railway crafted an original song, We Love Enoden, and starting this spring, has been using it for train approach melodies at Fujisawa Station and Kamakura Station. At Hase Station, the melody for Coca-Cola Japan's popular beverage Sōkenbicha is played. For a one-year period starting November 2009, Coca-Cola signed a contract with Enoden to use the song. "Sōkenbicha is a brand based on the theme of nature. A station rich in scenic beauty brings us closer to nature and is perfect for our image," says Coca-Cola. The melody is proving popular, and the company says it may continue the program past November.

The largest user of station melodies is Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū). In November 2008, the railway debuted melodies at 11 stations in Kanagawa Prefecture simultaneously. At Kanazawa Bunko and Kami-Ōoka Stations, the railway used songs from artists that were born in the area or once lived there. For Yokohama and Yokosuka Chūō Stations, songs using the local area as backdrops were selected. And for Uraga Station, the railway selected a unique song—the theme song to Godzilla, as this is the place where the monster first landed. In August 2009 at Namamugi Station, the railway selected the theme song from commercials for Kirin Beer's Ichiban Shibori brand. Kirin Beer has a plant in the area. Keikyū spokespersons say, "We started the program with the hope that it would be a chance for passengers to learn about these neighborhoods and feel connected to their station."

Starting in September, the Yokohama Municipal Subway has also been playing the official song of the City of Yokohama as background music on station platforms and near faregates at all of its stations (except for Shōnandai Station in Fujisawa City). While the melody isn't playing in coordination with the arrival or departure of trains, in a broad sense, it's still a station melody. Spokespersons for the City of Yokohama's Transportation Bureau say, "We wanted passengers to feel more connected to the official city song, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year."
Keikyū station melody collection:
Source: 95ys on YouTube

Inbound platforms.
My personal favorites are Shin-Zushi (0:58), Haneda Airport (1:19), Kanazawa Bunko (3:02), Kami-Ōoka (3:13), Keikyū Kamata (4:08).



Outbound platforms.
Favorites are Shinagawa (0:04; same as Haneda Airport from above), Keikyū Kamata (1:32), Kami-Ōoka (2:35), Kanazawa Bunko (2:57), Keikyū Kurihama (4:12).

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:39 AM   #1782
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Yokohama Municipal Subway Green Line average daily ridership up 20,000 over 2008
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/kan...OYT8T01434.htm

Quote:
It was revealed that average daily ridership on the Yokohama Municipal Subway Green Line was 93,000 for FY2009, an increase of approx. 21,000 passengers over ridership in FY2008, when the line first opened. In FY2009, the line recorded operating losses of ¥2.418 billion and ordinary losses of ¥4.035 million, but the City of Yokohama's Transportation Bureau is working to further increase ridership in the hopes of reaching the original target of 104,000 daily passengers. The Transportation Bureau expects to begin showing operating surpluses in FY2014 and ordinary surpluses in FY2019.

According to the Transportation Bureau, the reason behind the increase in ridership is due to an increase in commuter pass users commuting to work and school. While commuter pass users numbered only 48,900 in April of last year, this number increased to approx. 60,000 in this April, coming close to 90 percent of the original target of 68,000.

In March of this year, the Transportation Bureau also began offering combined commuter passes with Tōkyō Metro and the Toei Subway, both of which connect to the Green Line, allowing commuter pass users to transfer with only one card. In addition, the Bureau also sent out invitations for film pre-screenings to commuter pass purchasers. The Bureau will now work on promoting its commuter passes, including visiting corporations along the Green Line face-to-face.

In addition, given that Saturday ridership is stalling at 70 percent of weekday ridership and holiday ridership at 60 percent, the Bureau plans to increase teh attractiveness of the line, including co-sponsoring events with large retail facilities at Center Kita and Center Minami Stations and producing event calendars and neighborhood maps together with local companies and neighborhood councils.

The large deficit for the Green Line is primarily a result of the approx. ¥240 billion in capital investment to build the line. In FY2009, however, the Bureau was successful in reducing operating losses by ¥671 million and ordinary losses by ¥561 million year-over-year.

At the Accounts Special Committee of the Yokohama City Council on October 14, Councilmember Mochizuki Yasuhiro (New Kōmeitō) pointed out, "In the future, we will also need to increase capacity on the line from the current four-car trains to six cars." Yokohama City vice-mayor Ōba Shigemi responded, "In order to increase ridership on the Green Line, we will work towards environmental improvements in concert with related government agencies, and will continue our marketing and public relations efforts."
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:40 AM   #1783
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Yokohama New Transit announces new 2000 series trains for Seaside Line
http://www.seasideline.co.jp/pdf/101...sya_news02.pdf

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At Seaside Line operator Yokohama New Transit Co., Ltd. (President and Representative Director: Ōta Hiroo), we have begun production of the new 2000 series, with the first five-car unit scheduled to enter revenue service starting in late February 2011.

With the aging of our existing 1000 series trains, we will gradually produce 16 sets (80 cars) of this new series of trains by 2015, marking the first rolling stock upgrade on the Seaside Line since its opening in 1988.

In the design considerations for the new trains, we started with our existing rolling stock and reexamined everything down to the smallest details, even inviting the opinions of outside experts, while still paying heed to ease of maintenance and production costs.

The train design incorporates a simple, but slanted flat end design and a seven-color geometric paint scheme that draws from the ever-present "ocean" theme along the Seaside Line.

Details of the 2000 series

Rolling stock design
A final design was decided at the Kanazawa Seaside Line Line Color Design Charette, which included local experts and other citizens along the line (Designer: Kikutake Yuki, Visiting Professor at Tama Art University).

The deisgn theme is the "ocean," ever-present along the Seaside Line, and features a seven-color triangular geometric paint scheme that represents the waves and the reflection of sunlight on the water, as well as the flutter and lightweight but beautiful dynamism of ship sails and flags.

Car body
A stainless steel body was selected.

Interior
Seating orientation has been substantially redesigned from existing rolling stock, and is now a combined configuration of longitudinal and transverse seating. Car windows feature glass with a high level of light blocking qualities.

Security
In order to increase crime prevention effects, two surveillance cameras have been installed inside each car.

Barrier-free design
Wheelchair space is provided in three cars within each five-car train.

Passenger amenities
During automatic operation, the operator's seat will be opened up for use by passengers. Inside the train, near the entrances, two liquid crystal displays (LCDs) serving as passenger information displays have been installed in each car, displaying a variety of information including train destination, next station, and operating status of other companies' lines.
Pictures:
Source: http://journal.mycom.co.jp/news/2010/10/13/062/

New trains. Not a huge fan of the exterior, but the interior is good.





Old trains. I think these have a better paint scheme, but perhaps I might like the new paint scheme better if the ends had been designed better.



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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:41 AM   #1784
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Sōtetsu: Through-service a long-awaited dream and growing anxiety
http://www.toyokeizai.net/business/s...9db5b8/page/1/

Quote:
Ten years from now, ridership at Sagami Railway (Sōtetsu) Yokohama Station could have dropped by 20 to 30 percent. Daily boarding and alightings at the station are approx. 430,000 passengers—on the same level as Shibuya Station on Tōkyū Corporation's Tōyoko Line, and one of the top performers among all private railways in Japan.

The reason behind this possible sudden decrease in ridership at Yokohama Station is because Sōtetsu is planning through-service with JR East and Tōkyū. Currently, construction is already underway on a track connection from Nishiya to Hazawa on the JR Tōkaidō Freight Line. In FY2015, trains will travel on the freight line and onto the Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, through-servicing to Shibuya and Shinjuku. In addition, new tracks will be constructed from Hazawa, via Shin-Yokohama, to Hiyoshi Station on the Tōyoko Line. Mutual through-servicing with the Tōyoko Line is scheduled to begin in FY2019.

These new lines aren't being constructed by Sōtetsu. In accordance with the Act on Enhancement of Convenience of Urban Railways, the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (an independement administrative corporation) is building and will own the line, while Sōtetsu and Tōkyū operate the trains, paying fees for use of the facilities. It's the so-called separation of infrastructure management and operation, allowing for the realization of long-awaited direct service into Tōkyō Prefecture without the need for a large investment burden. For Sōtetsu, it's almost too good to be true.

Mutual through-servicing during the morning rush period will consist of four trains an hour on the JR through-service and ten trains an hour on the Tōkyū through-service. Compared to the current route via Futamatagawa, the travel time from Futamatagawa to Shinjuku will be reduced by as much as 15 minutes. As for Sōtetsu's projections: "With the JR interlining, about eight percent will shift to the new route. New demand will also be created, and 70,000 passengers daily will use the Nishiya ‒ Hazawa connection" (Sagami Railway president Numano Keiichi). In addition, the Sōtetsu ‒ Tōkyū through-service line is projected to handle 270,000 daily riders.

Sōtetsu is a major private railway operating the Main Line between Yokohama and Ebina and the Izumino Line between Futamatagawa and Shōnandai. The total length of passenger track in the network is a mere 35.9 km, the shortest among the major private railways, but with daily ridership of over 630,000 passengers, it's transport efficiency is high. Sōtetsu Holdings president Torii Makoto says, "If our lines were like maguro (tuna), it'd all be ōtoro (the most prized part of the tuna)." A little under 70 percent of riders use Yokohama Station, and over 60 percent of those who get off at Yokohama transfer to JR or other lines to head towards Tōkyō. There are no large leisure facilities or other attractions along the Sōtetsu network, and the lines are stereotypical "one-way" commuter trains.

In a survey conducted by Sōtetsu in the Greater Tōkyō area, Sōtetsu has the poorest name recognition among all the major private railways. The reason probably lies with the fact that it's network is entirely confined to Kanagawa Prefecture, and the railway doesn't run through-services onto other companies' lines. "If convenience and travel time can improve through mutual through-service, more and more people will want to move in along our network, and our name recognition will spread," says Makoto. There is also anticipation of the benefits to the company's other businesses outside of railway transport, including distribution.

Population aging, without an influx of younger generations; Yokohama Station transfer is the obstacle
In recent years, Sōtetsu's ridership performance has been in a slump. Annual ridership performance peaked in FY1995, but afterwards has decreased for nine years straight. Although numbers began to rise again for a while, the current trend is again a decline. Compared to the trend of increasing ridership on other major private railways running through Kanagawa Prefecture, including Tōkyū, Odakyū Electric Railway, and Keihin Electric Express Railway, Sōtetsu's struggling performance stands out like a sore thumb.

One of the factors behind the situation is the fast-paced population aging along the line. Yokohama City's Asahi Ward, home to Futamatagawa Station and other stations, occupies the central area of the Sōtetsu network. The proportion of residents in Asahi Ward aged 65 or older is 24.1 percent, the highest in all of Yokohama City (the Yokohama City average is 19.6 percent). After World War II, the farmlands and mountain forests of yore were quickly developed as residential neighborhoods, and many of the areas experienced rapid population growth.

At a local elementary school attended by one man in his 50s who lives in a residential neighborhood consisting of lots sold off by Sōtetsu, the first-year students were spread across eight classes. Even after constructing prefabricated school buildings, the number of classrooms wasn't enough, classes were split into two sections, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. The period immediately following the war was chaotic for sure, but this story was from the 60s, and speaks to the rapid population growth along the Sōtetsu network. Currently, more and more of the people who moved in along the network with the large-scale developments during the 1950s and 1960s are beginning to retire. Meanwhile, the trend to return back to inner city living is also a contributing factor, and there is only a limited influx of the younger generation to the area. As a result, there is a corresponding decline in working-age population and ridership on the Sōtetsu network.

Sōtetsu opened the Izumino Line in 1976 (Futamatagawa ‒ Izumino section; the opening of the full length to Shōnandai was in 1999) and conducted large-scale development and sales of residential lots. During the bubble period, homes in Ryokuen Toshi were selling for as much as ¥130 million, and popularity skyrocketed. But partially due to the short distance of the line, Sōtetsu was unable to capture the brand power of the Tōkyū Den'en Toshi Line.

For Sōtetsu, burdened with the inconvenience of having to transfer at Yokohama Station, mutual through-service is a saving grace. But while it is a plus in terms of increasing the value of neighborhoods along the network, there is also anxiety. The main stream of Sōtetsu's profit is real estate. For the fiscal year ending March 2010, close to 60 percent of the railway's profits came from earnings in the real estate business. Among these profits, some of the largest contributors are for-lease buildings owned by the railway around Yokohama Station. If the number of people going to Yokohama Station decreases as a result of mutual through-service, this area will lose its prominence, possibly casting a shadow over the railway's real estate lease revenues. For Sōtetsu, the mutual through-service is a double-edged sword.

In addition to Sōtetsu, JR, Tōkyū (through-service with the Minato Mirai Line), Keikyū, and the Yokohama Municipal Subway also serve Yokohama Station. Daily ridership exceeds 2,000,000, and the area around the station is one of the premier commercial agglomerations in Japan. Large department stores such as Takashimaya and Sogō, specialty store tenant building Sōtetsu Joinus, underground retail arcades on the east and west (Porta, The Diamond), and JR's station tenant buildings (Lumine, Cial). Takashimaya's Yokohama store boasts the largest annual sales volume of any of Takashimaya's stores, and the fifth largest in all of Japan. The Shin-Sōtetsu Building owned by Sōtetsu—home to Takashimaya, Sōtetsu Joinus, and Sōtetsu Yokohama Station—is one of the top large commercial properties in the entire country. And The Diamond, an extremely size-efficient underground retail mall, is also owned and operated by Sōtetsu. Sōtetsu is the single largest landowner at Yokohama Station's West Exit.

West Exit: Aging facilities; How best to take advantage of untapped potential?
In the past, for many Yokohama residents, going shopping meant "going to the West Exit." But in recent years, retail facilities have been opening one after another in the Minato Mirai area extending southeast from Yokohama Station. And in the suburban areas, large shopping centers starting with LaLaport Yokohama have been opening in succession. In comparison, in the area around Yokohama Station—particularly the West Exit area—new buildings are rare, and the age of the neighborhood is quickly apparent.

The customer demographic is also moving towards older age groups. The bulk of customers at Takashimaya's Yokohama store are in their 50s and 60s. "The age demographic at the Yokohama store has increased, coming quite close to the Tōkyō store. In addition to following each individual customer as they grow older, we are hoping to bring in new customers," says Yamada Shūji, vice-manager of Takashimaya's Yokohama store.

The average age of customers at Joinus, which opened in 1973, is also on the rise. As a result, a large-scale renovation was begun in 2002 and completed last year, excepting the underground portions. Inamoto Shin'ya, president of Joinus operator Sōtetsu Urban Creates, says, "Before the renovation, customers in their 40s and 50s were our main target, but we've changed that to the 25-35 age demographic."

At the underground mall The Diamond, the largest customer attractor is bookstore Yūrindō's Yokohama Station West Exit store. Even among bookstores across all of Japan, the store boasts one of the highest sales efficiencies. But despite this, "Customer volume and sales volume are still on the decline," says Matsunobu Shintarō, Store Operations Department chief. Since The Diamond's opening in 1964, it hasn't undergone a real renovation. Many stores remain from when the facility first opened, and it is difficult to deny its growing staleness.

Sales volume across all of the underground malls peaked in FY1991. Currently, the figures have dropped to 60 percent of what they were then. With a bus terminal directly above and many buildings directly connected, daily pedestrian passersby reach 300,000. In order to take advantage of this latent potential, Sōtetsu Urban Creates will embark on a full-scale renovation, including "a switchout of tenants and changes to the zoning" (Inamoto). It's expected that negotiations with tenants will be difficult, but the plan is to complete the project by 2014.

Compared to Minato Mirai and other areas, the unique quality of retail facilities in the Yokohama Station area is the marginal difference in weekday and weekend customer volume. Retail business has been able to succeed thanks to a premier location that allows for capturing passengers transferring between railways. But in addition to increasing competition with other areas, the decline in entries and exits at Sōtetsu Yokohama Station will become an opposing force. Movement on a plan by JR and Tōkyū to replace their tenant buildings has just been announced, and the time has come for the neighborhood as a whole to move forward towards redevelopment, or face being left in the dust. Eyes are also on "West Exit landlord" Sōtetsu.

For Sōtetsu's property leasing business, reducing dependence on commercial buildings is another major issue. Currently, about as much as 85 percent of the business is from commercial buildings, but Inamoto says, "We want to increase the share of office buildings, which are less susceptible to fluctuations in economic conditions, to about 30 percent." Last year, the railway purchased two existing for-lease office buildings in central Tōkyō.

In residential-related business, large-scale development is largely over. The only remaining possibility is the area around Yumegaoka Station on the Izumino Line, where farmland stretches out from the station. Without local support, however, the prospects for development are unclear. Now, the railway will be looking to focus efforts on condominium developments as well as apartments for rent. Up until now, the railway has purchased five existing properties. "We are looking at properties with a target price of ¥15 billion," says Kubota Yutaka, president of Sōtetsu Real Estate. The portfolio of purchases is focused on central Tōkyō—compared to central Tōkyō, rents along the Sōtetsu network are cheap, making them financially less appealing.

Side-by-side with the railway transport and real estate businesses is distribution. The nucleus of the business is Sōtetsu Rosen, which manages food supermarkets primarily along the Sōtetsu network. The company is struggling due to the drop in consumer spending, but Sōtetsu Rosen president Itō Hideo says, "Food supermarkets contribute greatly to the value of trackside neighborhoods." In a deal with Marubeni, the company is looking to strenghten its product offerings and personnel and crafting a path to survival.

The railway company business model that attempts to meet the full set of needs of residents living along the rail network is falling to pieces across the board as population begins to decrease, land values drop, and developable land along train lines has become scarce. The new business model has yet to be spelled out, but all eyes are on the model Sōtetsu chooses as it meets the challenge of mutual through-servicing.
Some images from the latest "Vision 100" 10-year business plan by Sōtetsu Group (English annotations by me):
Source: Sōtetsu Group

Major "Vision 100" development projects:



Operating profit by business segment for FY2009 (left) and projected FY2019 (right). They would strengthen the three smallest segments to cover for the declining profits in the transport segment.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:45 AM   #1785
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TX schedule improvements kick in October 1
http://akiba.keizai.biz/headline/2129/

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On October 1, Metropolitan Intercity Railway (HQ: Taitō Ward) will institute service changes to the Tsukuba Express (TX).

In order to improve convenience for passengers, one semi-rapid train from Moriya to Akihabara and one local train from Akihabara to Moriya will be added during the 6:00 hour on weekdays. In addition, local trains running from Akihabara to Yashio will be extended all the way to Moriya, and local trains running from Yashio to Akihabara will be extended to begin at Moriya (a total of seven trains across both directions will be extended, increasing service on this section). As a result, local service on the Yashio ‒ Moriya section during the 10:00 to 16:00 period will be increased to six trains per hour.

In addition, we will increase service on intermediate stations between Moriya and Tsukuba (Miraidaira to Kenkyū Gakuen). We will increase the number of trains on this section between 9:00 and 22:00 to four trains per hour, and extend the 21:24 semi-rapid departure from Akihabara bound for Moriya to Tsukuba, and the 22:27 local departure from Moriya bound for Akihabara to begin at Tsukuba. We will improve convenience on this section during the late evening period.
They seem to be gradually filling out their train schedule... They are already at 18 tph from Moriya during the morning rush.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:46 AM   #1786
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Tsukuba Express Akihabara Station construction updates

First, a few photos related to the construction of a new elevator from the TX ticketing level all the way to the surface, as well as an entirely new passage from the TX ticketing level eventually connecting to the surface and JR Akihabara Station.
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

Public notice and overview of the project.



At the JR Central Gate and main entrance to TX Akihabara Station, they're doing what looks like some heavy duty work. The passage needs to be built two to three stories belowground. This is also where the new elevator will surface.



Now, some updates on the new escalator from platform level to Basement Level 3, being constructed to help relieve overcrowding at the end of the platform.
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

On platform level. The new escalator is double-width. The opposite side actually has quite a bit of space to work with and leads straight to a "staff only" door.



They punched the escalator through an existing mezzanine level (Basement Level 3) area, but kept as much of the original passage width on the mezzanine as possible so as not to obstruct passenger flow, and retained some clearance with the wall on the right side. The high-visibility glass matches nicely with the rest of the station.



Where the escalator drops you off is right next to another escalator and stairwell proceeding up to another mezzanine level (Basement Level 2). The faregates and ticketing functions are on Basement Level 1. This new escalator should help reduce walking distances for people in the Akihabara end cars.



Actually, the real reason for the new escalator probably has to do with extending the platforms to handle eight-car trains. Looking at the stub track from the existing platform, we can see that there's plenty of space to play with inside the station box, which can be supplemented with an extension at the north end of the platform if necessary for additional clearance. Also looking at the picture, we can see the beams and columns supporting the new escalator, which are clearly designed to be connected together if this area were to be converted into platform space.



The other side of the island platform. There's less width to work here, so they built a concrete base here to support the new elevator, while further down, they extended the beams and columns underneath to jut out quite a bit. Looks like extending to eight-car platforms will be a fairly easy task when the time comes.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:46 AM   #1787
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Tōbu Noda Line grade-separation construction updates: Part 1

One of the lesser-publicized projects going on in Tōkyō. First, some background...

The project involves elevation and double-tracking of approx. 2.9 km of the Tōbu Noda Line around Noda City in Chiba Prefecture, between Shimizu Kōen and Umesato. Target completion date is FY2017. Eleven grade crossings will be eliminated and two stations (Atago Station and Noda-shi Station) will become elevated. The project will also double-track this section, creating more scheduling flexibility and improving safety.

Scope of project:


Source: Noda City

Sketch of completed project near Atago Station:


Source: Tōbu Railway

Station cross-sections. Atago will still be a typical two-track section, but Noda-Shi will be expanded from the current three tracks to a full-out four-track configuration.


Source: Noda City

First, some pictures from 2010.05. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the station work, just the trackwork:
Source: http://12208.at.webry.info/

Based on the construction diagrams, they will be constructing a temporary track to the side that will allow them to demolition the existing track and build the elevated structure in its place. This is near Umesato Station, looking east.



Looking west, in the direction of Noda-shi Station.



Closer to Umesato, they have roughly spaced out some concrete sleepers and laid what looks to be casing for the electrical cables. This section isn't planned to be elevated, but perhaps they are building temporary track to at least the next grade crossing out, in order to secure roadway access for construction vehicles or storage area for materials and equipment.



Moving further down, near Grade Crossing #175 they've also laid down new ballast and sleepers here as well, for the temporary track.



Just on the other side of the crossing, in the other direction, they've got all the aggregate sub-ballast compacted down and will maybe start laying down the ballast and sleepers. As shown here, they'll likely need to be moving a lot of the existing infrastructure, including the crossing arms and signals, in order to get the temporary track up and running.



In the distance is Umesato Station.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:47 AM   #1788
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Tōbu Noda Line grade-separation construction updates: Part 2

Next is a photo report from 2010.07:
Source: http://12208.at.webry.info/

Near the switchout point.



Grade Crossing #175 looking west in the direction of Noda-shi Station. Clearly they've been busy prepping the temporary track.



At the crossing itself, they've already got the concrete panels and temporary tracks in place, along with new drainage and a repaved surface.



The most recent photo report, from 2010.09:
Source: http://12208.at.webry.info/

Just south of Noda Station, near Noda Substation. Perhaps this new manhole installation is for the temporary track. They've also got a small excavator on the substation site, along with some cable housing and pipe casings, so perhaps they're doing some utilities relocations in preparation for the temporary track.



Outside the main entrance to Noda-shi Station, they've acquired this small piece of land, perhaps for materials or equipment storage.



Site of a former home, now bought out and knocked down for the project.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:48 AM   #1789
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Yoshikawa Minami Station construction updates

Some photos of the new station being constructed on the JR Musashino Line in Yoshikawa City.
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

Approaching the construction site from the south. The station will consist of one island platform (two tracks) and then another side platform (one track). Based on this picture, it looks like the two tracks will be on the side bound for Fuchū Honmachi, with the turnout on the left as shown. Based on what JR has said so far, the third platform will primarily be for emergency use only, and there are no specific plans to have trains start or end at the new station.



Looking closer at the new track they've constructed, it seems there will actually be a switch from the outside track to the middle track, meaning that the outside track will serve as the mainline track, with the middle track peeling off. Looking at the placement of the ballast bags and the transition from new to old ballast, we can estimate where they will be cutting the existing track and realigning with the new track.



The switch actually looks quite close to the new platform.



As we move closer to the new island platform, we can see there's quite a bit of clearance between the track and protective fencing. Probably, after they move trains to the outside track, they will be able to do more work on the inside platform.



The overhead masts in the distance are permanent, but the ones planted near the station are only temporary, perhaps because the supports will actually be part of the station structure. Looks like work is only just beginning on the side platform opposite, for trains bound for Nishi-Funabashi.



Approaching the north end of the station. Like at the southern end, there is another switch here for what will be the future middle track.



Ballast at the switchout point has been replaced with bags. No details yet on when the actual switchout will occur, since they've probably still got a ways to go. Given that the switchout won't affect service anyways since the station is entirely new, by the next update trains may already be using the outside track.



Aerial of the site. The large area to the left of the site is the scope of the land readjustment project, a mixed-use development of low- to mid-rise housing, offices, and retail.


Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/helicopter/

Another aerial focusing on the site of the new station.


Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/helicopter/
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #1790
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Ten colleagues embark on ¥160 journey around Bōsō Peninsula
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/ib...902000060.html

Quote:
Unemployed Okada Yoshikatsu (66) from Toride City and nine of his colleagues successfully completed a 370 km journey full-circle around the Bōsō Peninsula on ¥160 JR tickets. At Toride City Hall, where Okada and his friends were holding a press conference on September 28, the participants recalled their encounter with the Imperial train carrying Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, and couldn't hold back their excitement: "It really was incredible."

Okada and his colleagues are walking buddies ranging from age 62 to 71. Within JR's Metropolitan Inner-Suburb Zone, as long as lines are not duplicated, JR recognizes the cheapest fare between two stations, regardless of the actual route used. Since four years ago, Okada's group has been continuing a challenge to find the "cheapest vacation."

At 6:11 am on September 26, the group departed Toride Station for Kita-Kashiwa Station with a ¥160 ticket, transferring to the Jōban Line, Narita Line, Sōbu Main Line, Tōgane Line, Sotobō Line, Uchibō Line, Musashino Line, and back to the Jōban Line. The group snapped photos of the Imperial train stopped at Awa Kamogawa Station, but one of the members failed to get back on the train in time, forcing the group to change their itinerary and wait it out at Katsura Station. The group arrived at Kita-Kashiwa Station at 6:21 pm the same day, 30 minutes behind their original schedule.

The members said the journey opened their eyes to the passage of time, as ekiben boxed lunches that were being sold during pre-run checks were no longer to be found.
Imperial train (Nagomi E655 series) on the Sotobō Line. Normally, this line shuttles commuters from small towns along the coastline into Chiba City and Tōkyō, but had some special guests on Sept. 26... They traditionally run a "herald train" (tsuyu-harai ressha) before and a backup train after (in case of breakdown) the Imperial train. Kintetsu also recently had Imperial train duties, using one of it's Urbanliner "next" trains to escort the Emperor and Empress to Nara.


Source: norimonopodcast on YouTube
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:51 AM   #1791
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Shiroi City mayor approves funding for Hokusō Line fare cuts over City Council objections
http://mytown.asahi.com/chiba/news.p...00001010140001

Quote:
In the dilemma regarding fare reductions on the Hokusō Line, where the Shiroi City Council twice rejected measures to approve financial expenditures for the fare reductions, on October 13 Shiroi City mayor Yokoyama Kugako used her executive powers to approve the revised budget that included funding allocations in support of the Hokusō Railway fare reductions. When the measure died after the adjournment of the September City Council session, Mayor Yokoyama, who at the beginning of the issue had demonstrated a cautious attitude, used her executive powers to approve the measure. As a result, the agreement between Chiba Prefecture and local jurisdictions to provide funding subsidies to support the five-percent fare reduction will be in effect for this fiscal year.

Mayor Yokoyama explained her thinking: "Objectively recognizing that as long as the structure of the City Council remains the same, there would not be a decision in the Council regarding the matter," this case would satisfy one of the conditions of use of executive powers, which is that "there is no decision in the City Council on items for which there must be a decision."

Up until now, following rejection of the measure by the City Council, Mayor Yokoyama had expressed her feelings that "use of executive powers would be against the law," going so far as to say she had "no intention of using executive powers" after the adjournment of the September City Council session. In regards to her previous statements, Mayor Yokoyama remarked, "The March and June City Council sessions did not satisfy the conditions necessary for use of executive powers, but with the latest adjournment of the City Council session and recognizing that another Council session would produce the same result, in my judgment this was sufficient cause for an executive decision."

Taking the same reasoning behind this latest executive decision, she would then be able to approve the FY2011 budget as long as the City Council's composition remains unchanged, but Mayor Yokoyama said that issue was "not yet decided on."

Meanwhile, City Councilmembers opposed to the funding expenditure protested the move, handing Mayor Yokoyama an emergency declaration stating that "decisions on the matter have already been made twice in the City Council and that the City Council is not in a state that it is incapable of meeting again, making this case insufficient cause for use of executive powers." In addition, the Association for Hokusō Line Fare Reductions also submitted a letter of protest.

One City Councilmember has strengthened her opposition: "The measure died in the September Council session, so that leaves the previous two rejections as the standing decisions. The resolution by the City Council was 'no,' and to ignore that and use executive powers is an unforgiveable action that ignores the basis of parliamentary democracy."

In regards to the executive decision, Governor Morita Kensaku, who received a report of the situation by phone from Mayor Yokoyama, remarked, "Mayor Yokoyama, in her position as mayor, decided on her own that Shiroi City could not 'get a free ride.' Shouldn't that be good enough?"

In regards to fares on the Hokusō Line, which are around twice as high as other private railways, Chiba Prefecture, local jurisdictions along the line, Hokusō Railway, and Keisei Electric Railway agreed in November of last year that the local jurisdictions and operator would each bear ¥300 million of the cost to lower the fares by close to five percent. With the opening of the Narita Sky Access on July 17 of this year, the fare reductions took effect.

After the signing of the agreement, some critics opposed the use of public money while others claimed the fare reductions were too little. As a result, only the Shiroi City Council did not approve the budget measures submitted in the March and June Council sessions allowing for funding expenditures in support of the fare reduction.

In the September Council meeting, ayes and nays remained deadlocked 10 vs. 10 (with one Councilmember absent), forcing an adjournment. The budget proposal for the funding expenditures eventually died.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:52 AM   #1792
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Keisei Oshiage Line construction update: Part 1

An update on the ongoing continuous grade separation on the Oshiage Line. This set is from August 20 and covers the area in and around Keisei Hikifune Station.
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

The inbound (towards Oshiage, Asakusa) track was switched out to temporary track on the evening of August 7. Originally scheduled for August 6, they apparently pushed it back a day because of service disruptions.

Between Yahiro and Hikifune, on the temporary inbound track. On the left is the old inbound track, with a small team of workers. They will remove the old track and build the new elevated structure in its place. They've provided some additional clearance between the temporary inbound and temporary outbound track for when they build the permanent (elevated) outbound track.



Where the existing bridge and viaduct over the Arakawa River touches down. Seems like a pretty generous clearance between the old and temporary tracks, at least more than seems typical for these types of projects. They may be able to get a lot of the elevated outbound track done before even elevating the inbound track.



Proceeding further towards Hikifune, where there's protective fencing on the old inbound track side. This was up before the switchout, but they should now be able to get started on the track removal and construction immediately.



Approaching Hikifune, right before the grade crossing at Meiji-dōri. The wooden slats in the temporary outbound track continue up to this point. Since the protective fencing on the left side stops here, this may become the main access point into the construction area.



Entering the still fresh-looking temporary inbound platform. Both of these platforms are only temporary and will eventually be demolished. They look fairly narrow, but actually not much different than the old platforms.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:53 AM   #1793
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Keisei Oshiage Line construction update: Part 2

Part 2:
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

At the Oshiage end of the station, they've already moved the crossing arms and other equipment at the grade crossing.



Approaching the switchout point between the old and temporary inbound track. The old track was closer in, so the temporary track actually has a much better curve radius. Usually, things are the other way around.



The crossings here have been completely repaved. Looking further out, they are working behind the temporary outbound track (where the worker is standing) to construct temporary tracks between here and Oshiage. You can see the brand new overhead masts which actually are pushed out a bit from the temporary outbound track in preparation for this.



Approaching the bridge over the Tōbu Kameido Line. You can see them working on the temporary track just on the outside. Looks like all the overhead masts are in place, and now they just need to actually build the trackbed and then string the catenary. Perhaps they will switch the overhead onto the new masts, as it seems like the old masts would obstruct construction of the trackbed.



Some heavy-duty machinery on the right hiding behind the piles and fencing. This is basically an entirely new half of an overpass just to handle the temporary outbound track and give them room to complete the permanent tracks.



Diving back down towards the underground Oshiage Station. This entire section is covered in wooden slats because there's no other space available for construction vehicles to maneuver, what with the Tōbu Isesaki Line on the right and homes on the left. Will be interesting to see how they manage to squeeze the temporary outbound track in and get it to connect at this location, as there really is not much clearance.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:53 AM   #1794
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Keisei Oshiage Line construction update: Part 3

Final part, a look at the new temporary inbound platform:
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

Clean and simple, including the consolidated column / canopy / protective barrier, although they probably did that to save as much as space and time as possible. Apparently the width is about what it was with the old platform. The temporary outbound platform uses translucent materials for the protective barrier, but these are solid and not see-through, perhaps due to the construction activity that will be occurring behind it.



Standing on the old inbound platform, looking at the new connecting passage they built to join up with the temporary platform. The stairwell at left is the old one and continues down to the existing faregates and ticketing area.



They actually constructed two connecting passages... The first is at the Oshiage end, this is at the Yahiro end. Apparently this one is located a bit further from this station entrance than the Oshiage one is to the other entrance... Perhaps they need the extra space for construction.



A long section of the old platform at the Yahiro end, being used as a connecting passage.



What it looks like standing directly above the old inbound track. Not sure what they plan on doing with this next, as they will likely need to remove the old platform anyways. Perhaps they will switch it out with a new connecting passage sometime in the future, allowing them to demolish the old platform completely.



Moving towards the Yahiro end of the platform, looking at the existing station entrance. Perhaps they just plan to build an entirely separate passage to the station entrance... After all, this is more than just protective fencing.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:54 AM   #1795
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Keisei to begin accepting payment using China UnionPay
http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/kouhou/news/22-068.pdf

Quote:
Starting Wednesday, October 27, 2010, we will team with Mitsubishi UFJ NICOS Co., Ltd. to introduce a new payment service that allows customers to use UnionPay cards when paying for purchases of Skyliner tickets and other fare media at Skyliner ticket windows.

Up until now, visitors from China have largely been restricted to group bus tours, but with the relaxation of issuance of Japanese visas in China, it is expected that individual tourists enjoying travel by train will increase.

As a result, at Keisei Electric Railway, we hope to capture Chinese tourist passenger demand and improve their travel convenience by accepting payment using the UnionPay card, China's most frequently-used card.

Regarding introduction of the UnionPay card payment service

Start of service
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Accepted locations
Keisei Ueno Station: Skyliner ticket same-day ticket counter
Nippori Station: JR Line Connecting Ticket Window
Airport Terminal 2 Station: Skyliner ticket counter
Narita Airport Station: Skyliner ticket counter
*Note: Cards will not be accepted at automatic ticketing machines

Tickets which can be purchased using the UnionPay card payment service
Skyliner tickets, Cityliner tickets (together with base-fare ticket), Liner multiple-ride tickets
*Note: Cards will not be accepted for purchases of regular tickets only
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:55 AM   #1796
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Chūō Line 201 series retired: Part 1

They've been milking the cow for several months now with endless special charter runs out to places in the middle of nowhere, but the time finally came to bid a final farwell to the orange trains on the Chūō Line. Last regular revenue service was on October 14. A special farewell run departing Toyoda Station at 10:19 am and arriving at Matsumoto Station in Nagano Prefecture at 14:30 pm was held on October 17 (needless to say, the special run was fully booked). After that, the last train headed to Nagano General Rolling Stock Car for decomissioning and scrapping.

asahi.com footage of the October 17 farewell run departing from Toyoda Station in Hino City. Good turnout, but to be expected as these orange trains are pretty much legendary and synonymous with the Chūō Line. Other than that idiot scampering around to get a photo, a fitting farewell.



ANN news report (2010.10.17).



Various clips of the last days in regular revenue service:


Source: karibajct on YouTube

Window view of a 201 series (run 1113T) from Tōkyō to Musashi Koganei on Monday, October 11 (a public holiday):
Source: cyuosen201 on YouTube

Part 1: Tōkyō to Shinjuku



Part 2: Shinjuku to Kichijōji



Part 3: Kichijōji to Musashi Koganei



The October 17 farewell run, arriving at and departing Sagamiko Station:


Source: karibajct on YouTube

On the Shinanoi Line, bound for Nagano to be scrapped:


Source: winbeauty on YouTube
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:56 AM   #1797
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Chūō Line 201 series retired: Part 2

Some pictures of the last days in service...
First is 2010.10.13:
Source: http://thankyou2200.blog.so-net.ne.jp/

Approaching Ochanomizu Station in central Tōkyō, displaying a big fat "中央特快" ("Chūō special rapid") in the destination box.











From the popular photo spot near Ochanomizu Station, with Hijiribashi in the background.









Now replaced by these, but in a bit of irony, the cameraman got on Car 201...



At Kanda Station, there were already a few railfans on hand to snap pictures.







Old and new one last time...



Salaryman gives one longing look...

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:57 AM   #1798
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Chūō Line 201 series retired: Part 3

Continued
Source: http://thankyou2200.blog.so-net.ne.jp/

At the terminal, Tōkyō Station, where railfans have already staked out photo ops.





Railfanning in Japan is becoming more and more popular among women. Or she could be any one of the growing number of non-railfans who just have an affection for trains. Either is good.



Behind Platform 1, the Marunouchi Building of Tōkyō Station is under wraps as part of restoration work.





Final picture:
Source: Anonymous on http://rail-uploader.khz-net.com/

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #1799
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Chūō Line grade-separation construction update (Part 1)

Update on the continuous grade-separation of the Chūō Line between Mitaka and Tachikawa (2010.09.16). Elevation of the last segment, the inbound track between Tachikawa and Kokubunji, will take place the night of November 6 and into the early morning of November 7.
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

The switchout point near Tachikawa Station. The permanent inbound track is a little out of alignment right now so as not to obstruct the ground-level inbound track. They'll do final adjustment of the alignment when the switchout takes place, properly wrapping the track around the waist-high fencing at right, which surrounds some track sidings just east of the station.



Between Tachikawa and Kunitachi. The elevated structure itself is pretty much complete.



High protective fencing for this section, where the structure comes right up to the ground-level track.



Approaching Kunitachi Station, where there's quite a bit of overhang of the new elevated inbound platform above the temporary ground-level platform. Even after the switchout, there's still a lot of work in having to demolish the ground-level infrastructure and then build frontage roads, etc.



Between Kunitachi and Nishi-Kokubunji, where the structure ramps back down. Technically the section up ahead is already grade-separated because the tracks are in a trench, so they don't really have much work to do beyond here.



Switchout point near Nishi-Kokubunji. The inbound track forks into two... The left is the continuation of the Chūō Line, heading towards Shinjuku and Tōkyō, while the right is a track connection to the Musashino Line. When it touches down, the elevated track will need to connect to both tracks, so they'll have their work cut out for them the night of the switchout.

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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:59 AM   #1800
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Chūō Line grade-separation construction update (Part 2)

Next is the activity near Musashi Koganei Station.
Source: http://okiraku-goraku.com/

Between Kokubunji and Musashi Koganei. The inbound track here is already elevated, but currently lacks the low sound wall / bannister. In its place is simple protective fencing. Looking at the overhead poles, you can see they are also incomplete on the left hand side, only connected to temporary supports.



Moving closer to the station, the two tracks fan out one-track's width to handle a third track in the middle that leads to the adjacent train yard on the north side of the tracks (you can see parts of a train at the yard at bottom left in the first picture). Just a little ways ahead, there's a small kink in the sound wall which looks like they will be adding another yard connection here in the future. If you look closely, you can actually see parts of the wall already constructed behind the fencing, but offset a bit, another hint that they're probably adding another track here in the future.



Better look at the existing yard connection dropping down to ground level in the middle.



From here, the sound wall peels off again, but ends abruptly. Musashi Koganei is going to be a four-track station, so it's clearly for the fourth track, which hasn't yet been constructed. Given the complexity of the existing layout here with only one connection to the yard, with a second connection they may simplify the layout a bit here.



East end of Musashi Koganei Station. The only thing missing in this picture is the fourth track coming in from the left.



Moving down a little further, the sound wall comes up to our left, indicating this is where the fourth track will slide in.

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