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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:39 AM   #1881
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Preview of JR West 225 series: Part 1

On 2010.10.23 and 2010.10.24, JR West held small open houses for the new 225 series inner-suburban units at Kōbe Station, Ōsaka Station, Tennōji Station, and Kyōto Station. The units are supposed to enter revenue service on 2010.12.01, but I don't know if that's both the 0 and 5000 classes, or just one of them.

Anyways, first up is the 225-0 series for the Tōkaidō Main Line / San'yō Main Line (Biwako Line, JR Kyōto Line, JR Kōbe Line), Kosei Line, Hokuriku Main Line, etc. shin-kaisoku (special rapid) services.

Part 1. These are from the display at Ōsaka Station (2010.10.23).
Source: http://blog.livedoor.jp/mugenation/

They were considerate enough to sign the train as a shin-kaisoku, even if it wasn't actually in service...



Not a whole lot of difference with the existing 223 series, although the moquettes are supposedly a little more colorful now.





New yellow warning strips warning passengers not to get their hands or belongings stuck in the door pocket. They also added indicator lights underneath the lintels that light up when the door opens and closes.



Similar to the 321 series, the 225 series has dual LCD units installed up and down the corridor, hanging from the ceiling. This is an improvement over the 223 series, which only had LED scroll-type displays. Left side will display next station and other passenger information, right side will display advertisements.



Auxiliary flip seating



Barrier-free restroom. Pretty utilitarian, much like the rest of the train...



Cab

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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:40 AM   #1882
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Preview of JR West 225 series: Part 2

Part 2. These are from the display at Kōbe Station (2010.10.23)
Source: http://chicken855.seesaa.net/

Way too crowded to take pictures...



Priority seating, distinguished by the color pictograms on the head sheet.



View when seated



Standee rings. They increased the diameter and made them yellow to make them easier to find and grasp. They also increased the total number of them in each car, making the sets a little more friendly to standees.



They lowered the overhead rack height and also removed sharp corners on the seat handles to prevent injury during sudden stops or collisions.



Himeji end car



Kumoha 224-1
Ku = control car (i.e., cab)
Mo = motor car
Ha = car with regular seating



Single-arm pantograph. The 223 series were double-arm.



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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:41 AM   #1883
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Preview of JR West 225 series: Part 3

Part 3.
Next up is the 225-5000 series for Kansai Airport Rapid and Kishūji Rapid services on the Hanwa Line and Kansai Airport Line. These are from the display at Tennōji Station (2010.10.24).
Source: http://ameblo.jp/hiro-k-w325/

Arriving at JR Tennōji Station...



Apparently they were using the LCD screens inside the station to advertise the open house. First 1,000 people who lined up were allowed inside the train.



Railfans everywhere.







Interior is 1+2 configuration for the convenience of KIX passengers and their luggage.



Cab







Same type as the 225-0...



Lowered overhead racks



Door indicator lights



Just peeking in from the top are the door control buttons.



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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:42 AM   #1884
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Preview of JR West 225 series: Part 4

Part 4.
Source: http://ameblo.jp/hiro-k-w325/

These moquettes are much better... The 225-0 ones are a little drab, to be honest.



Apparently, visitors who took the opportunity to try out the seats thought they were a little too hard... Perhaps they'll get more comfortable as they get worn in.



Priority seating. Apparently the seats are also numbered, so perhaps in the future they may try to do some special reserved seat service (?).



Opening the emergency window.



The ubiquitous window curtain, pretty much a staple for any line not running completely underground, although some of the more modern stock is switching to special film or glass to block out UV rays, etc.



Wheelchair space



Pantograph



Appears to be a pantograph mount, with no pantograph attached.



Small step extension off the car sides... These are new.







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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:43 AM   #1885
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JR West announces large expansion of women-only cars
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/trend/...1953004-n1.htm

Quote:
In regards to the the women-only cars currently in service on eight JR West lines including the Ōsaka Loop Line and Tōkaidō Line during the weekday morning rush hour as a strategy to prevent chikan (groping) and other harassment of female passengers, on November 17 JR West announced that it will expand the women-only cars starting next spring to operate everyday (including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) and all day from the start to the end of service.

This is the second example of such a program following the Kōbe Municipal Subway, and the first among a JR group company and major private railway. JR West says, "In an effort to meet the increasing needs of female passengers and knowledge that these cases occur regardless of the time of day or the day of the week, we have decided to expand the service."

JR West introduced its women-only cars in FY2002, limiting them to weekdays between the start of service and 9:00 am, and between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Currently, the cars are in service on the rapid and local trains on the full length of the Ōsaka Loop Line as well as portions of other lines including the Tōkaidō Line and Hanwa Line.

However, even after introduction, many female passengers continually requested that the railway extend the service outside of just the rush hour and continue it into the late evening.

As a result, JR West analyzed the approx. 250 cases of harassment in the Keihanshin area between April and September 2010. After discovering that incidents of chikan were occurring at approximately the same rate outside of the rush hour and on Saturdays and Sundays, the railway decided to expand the service.
A pretty bold move since up until now, most railways have not been very enthusiastic about the expanding the cars outside of peak hours. In reality though, it can get quite crowded outside of the rush as well, particularly in the late night on the last trains of the day.

Map of coverage:
Source: JR West



Code:
Line                    Section                     Train service    Train type
Ōsaka Loop Line         All                         Local            (103 series, 201 series (orange)) 8-car trains
Gakken Toshi Line       Kyōbashi-Kizu-Nara          Local, rapid,    (207 series, 321 series) 7-car trains
  (incl. parts of                                    regional rapid
   the Yamatoji Line)
JR Kyōto Line           Yasu/Ōmi Maiko-Kyōto-Ōsaka  Local            (207 series, 321 series) 7-car trains
  (incl. parts of
   the Biwako Line
   and Kosei Line)
JR Kōbe Line            Ōsaka-Kakogawa              Local            (207 series, 321 series) 7-car trains
JR Takarazuka Line      Sasayamaguchi-Amagasaki     Local, rapid     (207 series, 321 series) 7-car trains
JR Tōzai Line           Amagasaki-Kyōbashi          Local, rapid,    (207 series, 321 series) 7-car trains
                                                     regional rapid
Hanwa Line              Tennōji-Wakayama            Local, rapid     (103 series, 205 series) 6-car trains
                                                     regional rapid
Yamatoji Line           JR Namba-Nara               Local, rapid     (103 series, 201 series) 6-car trains
  (incl. parts of       Ōji-Takada
   the Wakayama Line)
Ōsaka Higashi Line      Hanaten-Kyūhōji             Local            (103 series, 205 series) 6-car trains
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:44 AM   #1886
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Hattori Station grade crossing first in Japan to install truncated dome tiles inside gate arms
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/lo...0013001-n1.htm

Quote:
In an effort to improve safety for persons with visual impairments when traversing grade crossings, on November 1 Ōsaka Prefecture decided that it will install guidance devices for visually-impaired persons (truncated dome tiles) at the Hattori Crossing on the north side of Hankyū Hattori Station, where the Hankyū Takarazuka Line and the Toyonaka – Suita Prefectural Road intersect. According to Ōsaka Prefecture, this is the first case in Japan where truncated dome tiles will be installed inside the gate arms of a grade crossing.

According to Ōsaka Prefecture's Transport and Road Office, the installation work will take place on the evening of November 2. Truncated dome tiles typically used for crosswalks will be placed on a trial basis inside the crossing, stretching approx. eight meters in length and 45 cm in width. They will then observe the effect of the installation over the course of about five months.

The Hattori Crossing has the second highest pedestrian volume among all grade crossings in Ōsaka Prefecture, with approx. 20,000 people using the crossing daily according to a 2009 study. There are already truncated dome tiles installed on the sidewalk leading from a city welfare facility about one kilometer away to the crossing. By installing the tiles inside the crossing, it's hoped that the the convenience of the welfare facility and Hattori Station will be improved.

Source: http://news.goo.ne.jp/
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:45 AM   #1887
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Elevation of Hankyū Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station to be completed December 5
http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/shakai/0003579091.shtml

Quote:
On November 2, Hankyū Corporation announced that elevation works for the south branch of the Imazu Line (Nishinomiya Kitaguchi — Imazu) being undertaken at Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station in Takamatsuchō, Nishinomiya City have been completed, and the new tracks will enter service with the first trains on December 5.

The section to be elevated is approx. 340 m long, from Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station to the Yamate Trunk Road. The platform for Imazu-bound trains will now be on the same level as the station concourse, improving convenience when transferring with the Hankyū Kōbe Line. New ticketing entrances will be installed at two locations—the southeast part of the concourse and the southern end of the Imazu-bound platform—and it will also become easier to access retail facility Hankyū Nishinomiya Gardens.

The tracks for deadheading trains will remain at ground level, but the number of trains traversing the grade crossing across Kyūjō-mae Road ("Stadium Road"; a master plan road) will be limited to only four trains in the morning and evening, resolving the separation of areas on the east and west sides of the tracks. The train schedule will remain the same after elevation, except for pushing back the departure time for the last train from Nishinomiya Kitaguchi bound for Imazu by one minute (currently, the departure time is 12:07 am).

The total project cost is ¥3.25 billion. The National Government, Hyōgo Prefecture, and Nishinomiya City will provide funding to a total of ¥1.7 billion. Construction began in December 2007.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:46 AM   #1888
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Business operations at Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway unified under Hankyū and Hanshin
http://www.hanshin.co.jp/company/press/pdf/20100913.pdf
http://holdings.hankyu-hanshin.co.jp...01009131N2.pdf

Quote:
On October 1, Hankyū Hanshin Group began unified business operations with Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway, now a subsidiary of the group. Employee uniforms at Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway were completely redesigned, and approx. 50 employees were promoting commemorative one-day free passes inside Shin-Kaichi Station (Hyōgo Ward, Kōbe City) and other locations.

Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway is a Kōbe City third-sector railway company owning tracks that connect the Hankyū, Hanshin, San'yō, and Kōbe Electric Railway private railway networks. In April of last year, the company became a subsidiary of Hankyū Hanshin Holdings, and as of October 1, employees were transferred over to a subsidiary of Hankyū Corporation.

The light green uniforms were switched to the dark blue type used by Hanshin, and neckties were replaced with unique diagonal-stripe designs. In addition, at six stations on the Tōzai Line including Shin-Kaichi Station, signboards were revamped to Hanshin and Hankyū designs. Shin-Kaichi stationmaster Nagamine Hajime said, "With a renowed mindset, we hope to provide even better service."
The website for the former Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway is now under the Hanshin domain name:
http://www.hanshin.co.jp/kobe-kousoku/

New station signs:
Source: http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/kyone8020/

Hanshin-style signs (Kōsoku Nagata to Nishi-Motomachi)











Hankyū-style signs (Hanakuma)



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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:47 AM   #1889
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Fujitsū develops consolidated points system for Hankyū Hanshin Group
http://pr.fujitsu.com/jp/news/2010/09/9.html

Quote:
Summary
Hankyū Hanshin Holdings, Inc. (Hankyū Hanshin HD; HQ: Kita Ward, Ōsaka City; President: Sumi Kazuo) and H2O Retailing Corporation (H2O; HQ: Kita Ward, Ōsaka City; President: Wakabayashi Jun) will work with Fujitsū to take the Hankyū Hanshin Emerald STACIA Card and other STACIA cards being issued jointly by the Hankyū Hanshin Group, together with points cards issued by H2O Group, and create a new groupwide points system that allows for new services such as combination of points across the group and immediate use of points. The Hankyū Hanshin groupwide points service will be expanded starting in October.

The new system allows for the continuation of existing reward points services for department stores, supermarkets, railways, hotels, and other group businesses and group-affiliated businesses (preferred stores), but consolidates customer information, allowing for a points totaling service that automatically totals points to the various STACIA cards via online application.

In addition, at a portion of group preferred stores, customers will see improved reward points benefits, such as new services that allow for the immediate use of accrued points. Customers will see improved convenience in being able to accrue points at various companies' preferred stores, combine those points (points combination service), and then use them at their favorite store (points payment service), with the aim of expanding use of the service and revitalizing affiliated stores.

Details
With the four companies of Hankyū Corporation, Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd., Hankyū Hanshin Express Holdings Corporation, and Hankyū-Hanshin-Daiichi Hotel Group as core members, Hankyū Hanshin HD conducts a wide diversity of business ventures from urban transport to real estate, entertainment and communications, distribution, travel and international shipping, and hotels. Meanwhile, H2O, with Hankyū Department Stores and Hanshin Deparment Stores as core businesses, also conducts a variety of retailing-related business from department store business to supermarket business, home delivery business, and shopping centers. The business environment in the distribution industry has become more difficult in recent years, including increased competition and industry reorganizations across different industries and conditions, and Hankyū Hanshin HD and H2O have been investigating ways to pursue increased customer convenience as well as anticipating a diversifying array of individual customer needs.

Hankyū Hanshin Group has been involved a wide variety of businesses, but in an effort to bring the benefits of the group to our customers, has now expanded its points services, constructing a groupwide points system with the help of Fujitsū that allows customers to use an array of points services offered by each of the stores in the Hankyū Hanshin Group and affiliated companies.

With our experience introducing points system solutions to approx. 20 companies ranging from department stores to supermarkets, Fujitsū constructed a system that efficiently carries out member management and points management, points rewarding, incentives management, expense settlement for group companies and preferred stores, and other tasks. With this sytem, customers can combine their points online. We have constructed a highly flexible system that not only preserves affinity with the existing system and preferred store system, including KIOSK units and points units, but also allows for adaptability in incorporating future preferred stores.

As a result of the new system, customers will be freed from the complications of managing multiple points cards and will now be able to manage a wide variety of points services—such as department stores, supermarkets, railways, and hotels—through a single interface. In addition, with the inclusion of a points combination program, customers will be able to take their points from multiple points cards in their possession and combine them together as points on a STACIA card, allowing for an easier-to-earn, easier-to-use rewards points lifestyle.

More merger-related issues just now getting taken care of...
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:48 AM   #1890
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Hanshin Main Line construction updates: Part 1

Unfortunately there seems to be not much coverage of the grade-separation and elevation projects on the Hanshin Main Line, but here's a very small update on the four major improvement projects happening on the line.
Source: http://dkkawachi.blog58.fc2.com/

First, is the continuous grade-separation of the Mukogawa — Kōshien section of the Main Line. This is at Naruo Station, where they are currently constructing the temporary inbound (Hanshin Umeda-bound) platform and station building.



Temporary inbound platform is a side platform.



Construction process is typical method of moving everything over to temporary infrastructure on the side, then building the permanent elevated structure where the old tracks were.



Next project is the improvements at Kōshien Station (see original article here). Here, they seem to be doing some work on the exclusive platform for exiting inbound trains, at the very north side of the station (left side of picture).



Next project is another major grade-separation, between Ashiya and Uozaki. They recently completed the switchout of the outbound track (here on the left) to temporary track.



Next station down is Fukae. We are standing on the temporary outbound platform, looking at the former outbound platform and track to the left.



Next station, Ōgi. They are having to make some magic work here, since this is a four-track station. In fact, we can see just how narrow the temporary platform needed to get to fit everything.



Switchout point at Uozaki. We are standing on the outbound platform.

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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:48 AM   #1891
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Hanshin Main Line construction updates: Part 2

Last is a few pics of the work at Hanshin Sannomiya Station, where they are trying to expand the tunnel / station box as part of platform / track layout and circulation improvements. Starting in late September, they already began slicing up and removing the old tunnel walls.
Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/



Column punching through the ceiling of the old tunnel.



The finishings on the ceiling have been completely removed... This tunnel was built in 1933, but the people working on the current project have said that the quality of the work done back then surpassed their expectations.



At the east end of the platforms, they've already carved up one block of the old tunnel walls. Just outside, you can see the walls of the new tunnel, which has been built to surround the old one.



The old tunnel will be sliced up in to 869 blocks and lifted to surface level using this crane.

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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:49 AM   #1892
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Port Liner station names to change for Kei supercomputer, General Hospital relocation
http://www.sankeibiz.jp/business/new...0939006-n1.htm

Quote:
Port Liner operator Kōbe New Transit (HQ: Chūō Ward, Kōbe City) announced that it will rename Port Island Minami Station, which is located near facilities related to the "Kei" next-generation supercomputer scheduled to debut in 2012, to Kei Computer-mae Station in July of next year.

In addition, with the relocation of Kōbe City's General Hospital the same month, the transit operator will rename the current Shimin Byōin-mae Station (General Hospital Station) to Minatojima Station. Sentan Iryō Center-mae Station (Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation Hospital Station), the site of the relocated hospital, will be renamed Iryō Center-mae Station (Medical Center Station), with the supplementary name "Shimin Byōin-mae."

This is the first time station names on the Port Liner will be changed. While the name changes will take place before Kei actually debuts, the operator will change all three station names simultaneously to cut down on costs.

Spokespersons for Kōbe New Transit say, "As the environment around the stations changes, we will also change the station names to make them easier to use and easier to understand for our passengers." The transit operator says it will make the changes at the three stations simultaneously around July of next year.
Nighttime cab view on the Port Liner, from Kōbe Airport to Sannomiya:


Source: 109fan on YouTube
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:50 AM   #1893
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Kintetsu getting creative to boost railway business
http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/eco/news/...OYO8T00270.htm

Quote:
New limited express trains on the Ise route, open-air hanami trains, and group charters from the Hanshin area
On September 15, Kinki Nippon Railroad (Kintetsu Corporation) unveiled plans to strenghten its railway business, introducing new limited express trains and open-air trains on tourist lines connecting to Ise-Shima and other locations. With the railway celebrating its 100th anniversary on September 16 and in the midst of declining railway ridership as a result of the prolonged recession and population aging, the railway will capitalize on its ownership of tourist lines in the hope of increasing revenues.

The new limited expresses are slated to be operated between Ōsaka Namba and Kashikojima (Shima City, Mie Prefecture), and will be introduced into service by 2013. The current four seats per row will be redued to three seats per row, increasing seat width and "creating a comfort that surpasses a Shinkansen green car" (Kintetsu president Kobayashi Tetsuya). The train will also feature a kid's room where children can play, an observatory, and a dining car. The single train will feature six cars and be manufactured at the cost of approx. ¥1.5 billion.

The open-air train will be similar to other open-air trains, without windows or a roof and designed to be completely open, and Kintetsu plans to convert it's older limited express trains to serve this purpose. In addition to the Yoshino Line, where passengers can enjoy sakura (cherry blossoms), the railway is also considering operating the open-air trains on the Shima Line in Mie Prefecture and on other lines. At stations, the railway will team up with local tourism associations and hold events that offer specially-made local products for sale and allow visitors to enjoy traditional arts.

The railway is also aiming to realize as quickly as possible its proposal for a through-service limited express connecting Hanshin Electric Railway's Sannomiya Station in Kōbe and Kintetsu's Kashikojima Station via the Hanshin Namba Line. The plan is an effort to bring tourists from the Hanshin area to the Mie area, and the railway is in negotiations with Hanshin Electric Railway to begin operations for the time being with special trips targeting charter groups.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:51 AM   #1894
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Temporary agreement reached between Sakai City and Hankai Tramway on survival of tram line
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/osa...010200163.html

Quote:
On October 20, it was formally decided that Sakai City's funding support for the sections of the Hankai Line tramway inside Sakai City, previously on the brink of being abandoned due to declining ridership, would continue beyond next spring. The city will now begin looking at restructuring its transport network, starting with evaluating the possibility of whether operation of the sections can be privatized.

"We want to take the ridership that's currently trending down and turn it into a V-shape," said a determined Yamamoto Takurō, president of Hankai Tramway (HQ: Ōsaka City), as he announced that service on the line would continue after signing a memorandum of understanding with Sakai City. The 7.9 km section of track under question has seen ridership drop from 2.05 million in FY1999 to 1.10 million in FY2000, and the operating deficit last fiscal year reached approx. ¥200 million.

One of the factors behind the line's plummeting ridership was the expensive fare. On trips between Ōsaka and Sakai City, the fare between Sakai Higashi and Namba on the Nankai Kōya Line is ¥250, but the comparable section of the Hankai Line between Ōshōji and Ebisuchō is ¥290. With the start of the new year, this will drop to ¥200, and as part of a funding strategy, the city will cover the lost fare revenue. The city says that the fare cuts will lead to an increase in ridership of 50,000 passengers for the period between January and March.

The focus of upcoming discussions will now turn towards merits and demerits of a public-private partnership scheme where the city has ownership of the trams and facilities but Hankai Tramway operates the tram service. On October 20, Yamamoto claimed in front of press reporters that "financial stability is critical for the survival of the line," strongly pushing for the city's participation in the management of the line. Meanwhile, on the same day Mayor Takeyama Osami expressed his reservations: "Financially supporting the Hankai Line is a big investment. We will audit their operations up and down, and evaluate the effectiveness and the limits of a public-private partnership scheme."

After entering office in September of last year, Mayor Takeyama announced a halt to plans to construct an east-west light rail line connecting Sakai Higashi Station on the Nankai Kōya Line and Sakai Station on the Nankai Main Line, but recently has begun making references to construction of a new transport network on a different route. Next fiscal year, the city will draft a Municipal Comprehensive Transportation Plan that will compile policies on how to improve east-west connections in the city's transit network, currently mostly a north-south network comprised of Nankai Electric Railway, JR, and the subway.
Time lapse / miniature:


Source: shuuuji on YouTube

Incidentally, this guy has another one of these for the Keihan Keishin Line:


Source: shuuuji on YouTube
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:51 AM   #1895
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Groundbreaking for station tenant building at Wakayama Daigaku-mae Station
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/wak...010070134.html

Quote:
A groundbreaking ceremony for the station tenant building at Nankai's Wakayama Daigaku-mae Station in northern Wakayama City, where construction of the new residential development "Fujitodai" is underway, was held at the construction site in Wakayama City on October 7. The building will open simultaneously with the opening of the station, slated for spring 2012.

A four-story eastern wing and two-story western wing will be joined by a ticketing floor spanning above the platforms, and users will be able to pass east-west through the station. The gross floor area of the building will be approx. 9,000 sq m, and approx. 40 tenants including a supermarket, restaurants, and clincs are scheduled to lease space. Plazas housing bus terminals and other facilities will also be constructed on the east and west sides of the station.

Approx. 230 representatives from neighborhood councils and individuals affiliated with the project were present at the ceremony. Director Asai Eisuke of the Wakayama City Wakayama Daigaku-mae Station Area Land Readjustment Union greeted the crowd: "I believe this project will become an asset in bringing energy back to Wakayama." Representatives dug the ceremonial first shovel of dirt and prayed for a safe construction.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:52 AM   #1896
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Nankai announces mixed-use redevelopment on south side of Nankai Namba Station
http://www.nikkei.com/news/local/art...F2F2F2F2F2F2F2

Quote:
Nankai Electric railway will begin construction of a mixed-use building on a redevelopment area on the south side of Nankai Namba Station in FY2011. In addition to relocating its current headquarters from the Nankai Kaikan Building adjacent to the train station, the railway also plans to construct a visitor attraction facility together with the project, the likeliest candidate being a concert hall. With the new home of the railway's headquarters determined, plans to replace the Nankai Kaikan Building, the final chapter in the Namba redevelopment, will begin to move forward.

In late September, the railway signed a contract to purchase the land from the Ōsaka City Namba Land Readjustment Union (comprised of Nankai Electric Railway, Takashimaya, Kubota Corporation, Nippi Inc., and others), the project lead in the redevelopment of the former Ōsaka Stadium site. The area of the site, currently being used as a parking lot, is approx. 8,000 sq m, and the acquisition cost is believed to be around ¥2.5 billion.

At the moment, the railway is hammering out the scope of the project and the investment amount. A concert hall is planned to be constructed together with office space, and the railway plans to contract out operations of the hall to an outside firm or musical company. In order to increase the ability of the entire area to attract visitors, the railway believes it is necessary to bring in an entertainment facility that can lure a wide variety of age groups. The new hall would compete against the Umeda district, where cultural facilities including the Umeda Arts Theater and Ōsaka Shiki Theater are concentrated.

For a long time the railway has been planning to replace the 53-year-old Nankai Kaikan Building, which is beginning to show its age. With the decision to relocate headquarter functions to the new mixed-use building, the railway will now aim for a large-scale redevelopment incorporating offices and retail facilities. Nankai is continuing detailed discussions with Ōsaka City to push for a relaxation in the floor area ratio (FAR).

In addition to the grand opening of the completed Namba Parks retail facility in April 2007, the Nankai Railway group has been advancing redevelopment in the area, including moving forward with a large-scale renovation of the Nankai Building housing the Takashimaya Ōsaka department store. Capitalizing on improved convenience due to the opening of the Hanshin Namba Line (Amagasaki — Namba) in March 2009, the railway will now begin strengthening the office functions in the area.

On October 1 of this year, the railway group took over Nankai Urban Development Co., Ltd., which had been responsible for administration and operation of Namba Parks and the Namba Kaikan Building. The railway is formulating a business structure that will allow it to flexibly respond to the redevelopment of the Namba district. "Taking advantage of our prime location within close proximity to Kansai International Airport, we will attract both business and leisure customers," said president Watari Shinji. With plans to replace the Nankai Kaikan Building on track, the redevelopment plan for the Namba district is entering its final chapter.
More recently, Nankai announced that Zepp Ōsaka will take over the concert hall space, relocating from their current location near Nankai's Imamiya Ebisu Station just one station down the line.

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



Right edge of the picture is Nankai Namba Station and the Nankai Kaikan Building. The large block at center is Namba Parks. The parking lot at bottom left is the (possible) site of the building. Apparently, Nikkei Shimbun has a separate parcel marked out, one further south (immediately south of Kubota HQ), but that particular site seems really far away, and is actually much closer to Imamiya Ebisu Station than to Namba Station.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:53 AM   #1897
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Nankai to reinstate rapi:t alpha non-stop train between Namba and KIX
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/natio...na014000c.html

Quote:
Nankai Electric Railway plans to resume its express train service from Nanba to Kansai International Airport after it was shut down in 2003 due to a lack of passengers, company president Shinji Watari revealed in an interview with the Mainichi.

The move comes in anticipation of increased ridership on the non-stop, "rapi:t alpha" line following the establishment of a low-cost carrier (LCC) at the airport by All Nippon Airways (ANA) within the year. Watari also expressed his company's intentions to cut even shorter the 29 minutes that it took to travel the length of the line.

Nankai Electric Railway's average daily passenger volume at Kansai Airport Station for fiscal year 2009 was 15,265 people, the second fall in two years and a number on par with the lowest fiscal year on record, 2004, which had 15,070 average daily passengers. The highest year on year record was fiscal year 1995, which had a daily average of 25,053 passengers. Compared to that time, the number of passengers has fallen around 40 percent.

"There's not expected to be an increase in population along the line, so we're putting large expectations on the LCC. We will make our decisions on how to act as we analyze passenger growth and customer needs," said Watari. Based on the possibility that the number of passengers may increase to 1995 levels, Watari says his company wants to "increase the convenience and speed of the line."

The number of travelers using Kansai International Airport in the first half of fiscal year 2010 was higher than the same period of the previous fiscal year for the first time in four years, thanks to a rebound in the drop in travel caused by the H1N1 virus last year. In September, ANA announced that, together with a Hong Kong-based investment company, it would set up an LCC within the year in Kansai and aim to begin flights by the fall of 2011.

"In 2014 and 2015, we expect to have 6 million passengers a year going through Kansai International on LCC flights. We're moving forward with a dream of 1.5 times the current number of people flying through Kansai," said ANA President Shinichiro Ito.

Two "rapi:t" trains, "rapi:t alpha," the non-stop train, and "rapit:t beta," which stops at four stations on its route, were set up when Kansai International Airport opened to passenger flights in September 1994. In fiscal 1995 there were over three million passengers on the rapi:t trains, which were at 53 percent of capacity, but the number of flyers at the airport failed to grow, and in fiscal 2002, the number of users of rapi:t trains numbered only 1.77 million, at 30.6 percent of passenger capacity. Fiscal year 2009 had 1.79 million passengers and 30.8 percent of passenger capacity filled on the currently running, non-super-express rapi:t trains.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:55 AM   #1898
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Hotel rooms overlooking Osaka Station a hit with train enthusiasts, children
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/natio...na024000c.html

Quote:
OSAKA -- High-floor rooms in hotels next to JR Osaka Station are proving a hit with customers, who enjoy watching what looks like a moving train set outside their hotel window.

Hotels have created train-themed lodging plans with the rooms in response to feedback from customers that their children had enjoyed being able to see trains from the windows.

At Hotel Granvia Osaka, located right next to Osaka Station on the south side, a northwest corner room on the 23rd floor overlooks both the coming and going of trains and the station's new dome-like roof, part of station remodeling work to be completed next spring.

The inside of the hotel room is decorated with photographs taken by JR West conductors of the Osaka-Sapporo sleeper limited-express train "Twilight Express." On a table in the room are train schedules and a Twilight Express amenity pouch -- normally only acquirable on-board the Twilight Express -- for each guest. The check-out time is later than usual in order to give guests time to watch the coming and going of the Twilight Express.

The hotel began offering the Twilight Express-themed lodging plans in November of last year, and they have proven so popular that that it's difficult to grab a reservation on the weekends. Organizers say their customers cover a wide range, from traveling families to middle-aged or older couples.

"Even before we started offering the new lodging plan, we had customers who requested rooms with windows facing the trains. We received comments from customers that their children enjoyed seeing the trains, which led us to create the lodging plan specially designed around viewing the trains. That the rooms have continued to be this popular is a pleasant surprise," said a PR executive for the hotel.

Meanwhile, Hotel Monterey Osaka, another hotel overlooking Osaka Station, is also offering train-themed lodging plans -- since about four months ago, it has offered tickets to the Modern Transportation Museum with some of its rooms, a lodging plan that the hotel says was particularly popular during the summer vacation period.

Furthermore, Hotel New Archaic, located near Amagasaki Station on the Hanshin line in Hyogo Prefecture, has taken advantage of its location -- which allows customers to see trains from the Hanshin, Kintetsu, and Sanyo railroad companies all at once -- by offering lodging plans directed towards train hobbyists since around two months ago.

"Amidst the current interest in trains, having a good view of the trains at a station is a big plus. We want to offer train-related lodging plans at more hotels in our chain," said a spokesperson for the hotel.

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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:56 AM   #1899
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Mitsubishi and Kyōto City team up for electric bus trial
http://www.mhi.co.jp/news/story/100902.html

Quote:
As an Environmental Model City, Kyōto City is aiming for a low-carbon society, advancing plans to become a "walking town" and encourage a shift to and expansion of next-generation automobiles such as electric vehicles (EVs). In the midst of these efforts, Kyōto City was selected by the FY2010 Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) Field Trials Relating to Urban Planning with Environmentally-Friendly Vehicles, and Kyōto City (Mayor: Kadokawa Daisaku) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (HQ: Minato Ward, Tōkyō; Representative Director: Ōmiya Hideaki) have teamed up to conduct a field trail of EV bus operations in February 2011.

With the goal of promoting the widespread use of EVs and environmentally-friendly vehicles, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. will also take this opportunity to show its support for the Next-Generation EV Kyōto Project being undertaken by Kyōto City and private-sector corporations and will sign the project accords on September 2.

This is the first time Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. has formed such an agreement with a local government.

Field trial of EV bus operations
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Kyōto City will work together to implement this trial, selected as an FY2010 MLIT Field Trial Relating to Urban Planning with Environmentally-Friendly Vehicles.

Details
The Kyōto City Transportation Bureau will operate one EV bus manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. on a circulator route, and a group of selected volunteer testers will board and alight the bus at existing bus stops. The field trial will be conducted in as close to revenue service conditions as possible, allowing us to test the battery life in running operations (affected by roadway congestion and other factors), necessary recharging intervals, passenger ride comfort, and EV bus operating performance and functionality.

In addition, we will also evaluate concerns with EV bus operations, including their impact to bicycles, motorbikes, and pedestrians.

Trial period
We will operate the bus in February 2011. During one to two weeks of this period, we will have volunteer testers ride the bus.

Lines to be serviced
We will install a high-speed EV bus recharging station at Kyōto City Hill Square and establish a circulator route beginning and ending at Kyōto City Hall.
  1. Large loop route (approx. 7 km one-way): Kyōto City Hall → Oike-dōri → Kawabata-dōri → Gojō-dōri → Horikawa-dōri → Oike-dōri → Kyōto City Hall
  2. Small loop route (approx. 5.5 km one-way): Kyōto City Hall → Oike-dōri → Kawabata-dōri → Gojō-dōri → Karasuma-dōri → Oike-dōri → Kyōto City Hall
Monitors
We are scheduled to select volunteer monitors to test ride the EV bus in December 2010,

Test vehicle
Design: Low-floor type large EV bus
Battery: Lithium-ion battery
Capacity: 65 passengers
Running range: 30 km
Carbon dioxide emissions reduction: 50 tons per vehicle per year (compared to existing diesel buses)



Development of EV bus information communication systems

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Old November 23rd, 2010, 07:57 AM   #1900
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Trial program increases Man'yō Line service in preparation for Hokuriku Shinkansen
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/toy...011020471.html

Quote:
Starting this month, the Man'yō Line tram running between Takaoka and Imizu Cities has pushed back the departure time for its last train and launched increased service during the evening commute periods. The project is a Toyama Prefecture Emergency Job Creation Fund project, and will last for three years as part of a field trial designed to revitalize public transit and central urban areas in preparation for the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen.

With the schedule changes on November 1, the last train departing JR Takaoka Station was pushed back from 10:20 pm to 11:00 pm, allowing passengers on Hokuriku Line trains arriving at Takaoka Station at around 10:30 pm to transfer to the trams.

In addition, during the commuter-heavy 5:00 to 7:00 pm period, the number of trains departing from Takaoka Station and Koshinokata Station will be increased, reducing the headways from the current 16-18 minutes to 10-15 minutes.

At a special ceremony held on the night of November 1 at the tram stop outside Takaoka Station, Mayor Takahashi Masaki of Takayama City, which contracted out the operations, says, "I hope people will take full advantage of the service when heading home, particularly as we approach the new year's and people stay out late... We want people to realize the value in the Man'yō Line." Man'yōsen president Takehira Eitarō remarked, "A lot of people have been asking for later service during the evening, and now it's finally happened. I hope passengers will come to love our service."
Scenes on the Man'yō Line. The decorations are for Tanabata.
Source: HAMATAGUCHI on YouTube

Arriving at Takaoka Station tram stop:



Between Takaoka Station and Kataharamachi:

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