Railway company 'renames' central station after local noodle delicacy
Takamatsu Station's renewed station nameboard carrying its official name and its nickname, Sanuki Udon Station. (Photo courtesy of Shikoku Railway Co.)
TAKAMATSU -- For all you future travelers to Kagawa Prefecture, if your ticket reads "Final Destination: Sanuki Udon Station," instead of the anticipated Takamatsu Station, don't rush to return it -- you're still on the right train.
Starting from March 29, Takamatsu Station in the prefecture's capital city Takamatsu will also be known by a new "official" nickname, "Sanuki Udon Station," its operating company Shikoku Railway Co. (JR Shikoku) announced on March 26.
The move is the latest pitch of Kagawa Prefecture's ongoing PR campaign that was launched in October last year to boost tourism and promote its popularity through local delicacies, including the well-known noodle dish "Sanuki udon" and other local food and drinks.
As part of the most recent campaign, the station nameboard will carry both names -- the official Takamatsu Station and the nickname Sanuki Udon Station -- which will be accompanied by colorful noodle illustrations, the prefecture's unofficial name "Udon Prefecture" to the left of the board and Takamatsu City to the right.
The campaign will be effective for a limited two-year period, JR Shikoku officials said.
To add to the appeal, staff at the Takamatsu Station, who will be doing their best to welcome travelers to the wonders of Kagawa -- or Udon -- Prefecture, will be wearing neckties with noodle patterns.
"We would like to keep promoting the prefecture as much as possible," a JR Shikoku official commented enthusiastically.
Train passengers will soon be able to use their mobile phones on the city's subways.
Japan's three largest mobile carriers said Wednesday that they would begin to offer services on sections of some lines from this week, with full coverage to come later this year. Voice and data will be available in stations as well as underground tunnels.
NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, and Softbank said in a joint statement that the first section to go live will be a stretch that runs from Shinjuku, a central business and shopping district. EMobile, which mainly offers high-speed data services, is also participating.
Tokyo's miles of subways, some of which run several stories underground, have long been a rare gap in the city's blanket cellular coverage. Commuters often scramble to make calls, download their messages, and check train schedules during brief stops at the stations where they get reception.
Some are concerned that mobile services on subways will end a rare sanctuary from the constant background of phone chatter in the city. Posters on trains ask that passengers refrain from making calls on trains and switch their ring tones to vibration mode. In the joint announcement for the start of services, Japanese carriers asked that train passengers "continue to observe the rules for using mobile phones, as they have in the past."
Japan's high-speed railway, known as shinkansen, is a remarkable engineering accomplishment. The frequency and efficiency with which this system runs has been incredible to read about.
Japan's first high-speed railway, the Tokaido Shinkansen, opened in 1964 with traveling speeds of up to 130 mph. Today every major city is accessible via shinkansen, which run at average speeds of between 170 and 186 mph and depart with frequencies that rival the New York City subway system. Four hundred trains travel the Tokaido Shinkansen (which, remember, is only one of six shinkansen lines) daily, arriving in increments of about three minutes each with an average delay time of 0.1 minutes, typically because of climatic impediments, such as heavy snow.
This speed, efficiency, and dependability, along with its carrying capacity are what make shinkansen an integral part of daily commuting in Japan -- and an important contributor to the Japanese economy.
In a 1994 report, Features and Social Economic Effects of Shinkansen, Hiroshi Okada, a Japanese civil engineer, demonstrated the social savings -- a growth accounting technique used to measure the economic implications of new technologies -- realized by Japan with the advent of the shinkansen.
In his report, Okada calculated that if 85 percent of the total passengers on the four shinkansen lines that then existed shifted from conventional lines, the annual time saving calculated from the difference in schedule times between the shinkansen and conventional lines would be about 400 million hours. By calculating the value of the time per hour from the GDP per capita, he determined the value of the time saving to be about 500 billion yen (about US$5 billion, based on October 1994 conversion rates) a year.
A slight caveat: Okada doesn't specify how much time per passenger is saved, opting instead to give the above total. This is important because, while it is clear time is saved by the use of shinkansen instead of conventional trains for transportation, what is most important is if the time saved can be put to any good use. A savings of seconds per person over a large cohort is ultimately less useful than a savings of minutes or hours per person in one that is smaller.
The possibility of such time savings is a common rationale for general investment in public transportation. The theory goes that improved public transportation -- "improved" meaning faster, more efficient, and more reliable -- can increase business productivity by attracting new public transit passengers, thereby reducing road congestion and increasing employer access to skilled labor.
How a high-speed railway in America would stack up to shinkansenremains to be seen, however. Current plans for high-speed rail in the US seem somewhat limited, eliminating the possibility of its use as a mode of daily commutation and offering little access to a large swath of the country.
Long term, the vision seems to improve, allowing for easy access to urban public transit networks from high-speed rails and high-speed access to various medium- and high-population cities.
You can read more about the effects of congestion on economic factors in the National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 463 and the American Public Transportation Association's Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment.
BMI View: Our view that Japan's post-Tohoku reconstruction efforts would have to wait until 2012 continues to play out. Robust growth in construction orders since the crisis has yet to translate into greater construction activity within the country. Although private investment could decline due to the potential of a Chinese hard landing, we are maintaining our forecasts for Japan's construction sector, with real growth expected to reach 4.1% and 1.8% in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Over the long-term, we see some opportunities for infrastructure development in Japan (particularly in power and railway infrastructure sub-sectors) but remain unconvinced that the country has the financing capabilities or the political will to sustain these growth levels.
Key developments include:
- Sentiment towards nuclear generation has changed. In November 2011, the Japanese government restarted its first nuclear power plant reactor since the Fukushima Daiichi plant was shut down in March 2011, reports abs-cbnnews.com. Power was restored to the Genkai nuclear facility in the south of the country, in a move the government hopes will placate sceptics of atomic energy in the wake of March 2011's incident at Fukushima. Prior to the national shutdown, Japan was dependent upon nuclear power for one-third of its total electricity.
- In November 2011, Japanese mobile operator Softbank undertook the construction of three experimental solar power plants in the northern island of Hokkaido. The 100 kilowatt (KW) test plant became operational in mid-December 2011 and is equipped with solar panels produced by local and international manufacturers such as Kyocera and Canadian Solar.
- In February 2012, Japanese electricity utility Kansai Electric Power Company announced that it will postpone the launch of its 12MW Awaji wind power plant, reports reuters.com. The facility was scheduled to open at the end of March 2012, but will now commence commercial operations in February 2013, following a delay in the plant's construction.
- Kajima Corporation
- Tokyo Electric Power Company Co (TEPCO)
- Taisei Corporation
For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/9cfa06b0/japan_infrastructu
In the light of the March 11 2011 earthquake, East Japan Railway has allocated ¥100bn to improving the earthquake resistance of its infrastructure over the next five years.
Bus routes linking Tokyo Sky Tree with key locations in the capital on the rise
Prior to the grand opening of Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's tallest free-standing broadcast tower and Japan's newest landmark, bus companies are rushing to launch services that link the structure with key locations in the capital and make the journey to the famous spot more comfortable for tourists.
Three new shuttle bus services, launched by Tobu Bus Co., that link Tokyo Sky Tree in the capital's Sumida Ward with Tokyo Station, Haneda Airport and Tokyo Disney Resort, will begin simultaneously with the opening of the tower on May 22.
Passengers will reach the tower in approximately 30 minutes from Tokyo Station, and between about 50 to 70 minutes from Haneda Airport. Adult passengers will be charged 500 yen on the Tokyo Station bus and 900 yen for the Haneda route.
Using a bus to reach the tower from either of the locations is both more time consuming and costly when compared with train fares on each of the four railway lines stopping near Tokyo Sky Tree. However, the bus companies -- who are using a "have a seat all the way to your destination" sales pitch -- say using buses will benefit those coming from afar who are not used to transferring trains in Tokyo, as well as travelers who carry heavy luggage.
A separate bus service operated by Tobu, which currently connects the tower with Ueno Park and the Asakusa district on weekends and national holidays only, will begin regular daily operations from May 22. The buses' outer design will also be remodeled with images of an illuminated Tokyo Sky Tree painted on the sides.
Some of the buses will even be equipped with large glass ceilings allowing passengers to view the tower throughout their ride.
Meanwhile, additional bus routes launched by Keisei Bus Co. linking Shin-Koiwa Station with Asakusa via Tokyo Sky Tree, are also scheduled to begin operations sometime this June.
Toei buses operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Transportation Bureau passing near the tower debuted on March 20, operating four times a day on weekends and national holidays. The buses start from Tokyo Station and reach Tokyo Sky Tree in approximately 40 minutes for a fixed charge of 200 yen.
A separate route linking Nippori Station with the tower in approximately 20 minutes, targeting travelers arriving from Narita Airport and other passengers, has also been launched.
I’ve known for quite a while that Tokyo is often recognized as the most expensive city in the world. Its society is also widely known as “crazy” about discipline and orderliness, which at least is perhaps the major reason why Tokyo looks so attractive, neat and clean.
“Tokyo has been a major city for centuries, surpassing in size the great capitals of Europe since the seventeenth century,” wrote John H. and Phyllis G. Martin in their book, Tokyo: A Cultural Guide to Japan’s Capital City.
It is a city that offers visitors one of the most modern facades in the world and boasts towering skyscrapers that, it is claimed, can withstand future earthquakes. Yet past traditions are retained despite all the modernizing in the second half of the twentieth century.
The first impression is felt on arrival at Narita International Airport. Airport personnel work quickly and adeptly. They are responsive to the people queuing at the immigration counter.
Leaving the airport and traveling by bus for around 90 minutes to Tokyo, we watch neat roads and orderly traffic. A rural atmosphere with plantations and warehouses also prevails on both sides of the toll road leading to Tokyo.
In Tokyo, the various high-rise buildings, overpasses and railway lines give the idea that we are entering a modern city. Beautiful and well-arranged parks are inseparable from Tokyo, with their dominant sakura trees, adding distinctive color to the city and enhancing its freshness. Scattered sakura flowers on public roads and parks don’t prevent people from relaxing on plastic mats available at many places.
In contrast to the traffic in Jakarta, for two days no car horns can be heard. In Japan, this is of course unsurprising because when the country was rocked by a major earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, it continued to maintain traffic discipline and order.
In general, traffic is light and smooth as commuters in Tokyo heavily rely on the subway system. Access to subway stations is easy and convenient. Moreover, Japan strictly regulates car ownership, making people less dependent on private cars for their travel. Traffic jams can only be found around some shopping areas like Omotesando, Harajuku and Roppongi.
Tokyo’s infrastructure indeed affords greater space for pedestrians and cyclists, enabling more people to walk instead of driving. There are lots of fences to chain bicycles along the sidewalks.
Unlike Indonesia, many older people in Tokyo are still working with zeal. At Narita, for instance, most check-in staff members are relatively old. Some work as taxi drivers and provide cleaning service at hotels.
Japan has the highest percentage of senior citizens in the world. Based on a census in 2010, Japan has a population of around 128.5 million, of whom the elderly make up 30 million, or 23 percent.
Visiting the city for two days certainly is not enough to get a thorough picture of a city boasting diverse tourist destinations like Disneyland, Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Imperial Palace, the Asakusa Kannon Temple and shopping centers. But the short visit did amaze us and make us wish to return another time.
This brief stay gave us some valuable lessons and we can in fact do the same. We can imitate how the Japanese pay considerable attention to comfort and give utmost care to apparently trivial things.
For instance, on rainy days all of the shops make umbrella stands available and customers wishing to carry them are provided with free plastic bags to prevent water from dripping on the floor.
Litter boxes are placed everywhere and those already full are promptly replaced by garbage collectors. On Saturday and Sunday mornings at about 6 a.m. the Roppingi area was littered with rubbish, but by 7 a.m. it was all cleared.
Nearly every restaurant display models of every food offered, with lists of prices ranging from around 1,000 yen (Rp 100,000) to 2,000 yen. Their menus are also replete with the nutritional contents of relevant specialties.
The Japanese are known for their punctuality, which is distinct from Indonesians. The tourist bus serving us always arrived on time and was ready for our tours as scheduled. Many positive things can be learned from Japan, with its close emotional ties with Indonesia.
Current bilateral relations have gotten a boost as Japan is among the largest investors in Indonesia and a lot of Indonesian students are studying in Japan, although history has its gloomy side — Japan once occupied Indonesia.
From the city’s 333-meter Tokyo Tower, visitors can experience the magnificent view of tall buildings and the busy streets of the metropolis. Open since 1958, Tokyo Tower has been one of the city’s symbols and among the tallest towers in the world, higher than Eiffel (320m). The orange-and-white tower was originally meant to be a radio antenna.
Located in the Shiba Park area, the tower has three parts: foot town, the main observatory and the special observatory. On floor 1 of Foot Town are convenient stores, souvenir shops, an aquarium and an elevator to observation decks. Floor 2 has some other souvenir shops. Floor 3 houses the Tokyo Wax Museum and Space Wax, and floor 4 a game corner and Noppon Square.
The main observatory, at a height of 150 meters, has two floors where visitors can enjoy the beauty of Tokyo. A glass floor also helps. The special observatory, at 250 meters, is the highest place to observe Tokyo.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
Surveying the Japanese Emperor’s principal residence in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is like grasping the attitude and character of Japanese society in general, which is mostly closed, exclusive and less receptive to foreign cultures.
Surrounded by a lake, buildings and a park measuring 7.41 square kilometers with various houses, like the royal family’s private homes, it is not open to the public.
Visitors can only get closeand take pictures at the main doors connected with a broad bridge. They can also relax in the tidy and gorgeous park in front.
The park is adorned with statues of imperial soldiers and has a parking area farther from the palace. Although nobody can witness the palace interior, the royal mansion near Tokyo Station is always teeming with tourists.
Asakusa Kannon Temple
To complete the Tokyo visit, Asakusa Kannon Temple is the old est holy place in the city and the bastion of Japan’s traditional values amid its modern lifestyle. It is an indispensable destination.
Asakusa, one of many tourists’ favorite spots, has many buildings in its complex, like Kaminarimon (Kaminari Gate), Sensoji Temple, Dempoin Temple and Asakusa Shrine. There are also Nakamise and Shin-Nakamise shopping streets, where visitors buy souvenirs and cookies.
Sensoji is an important shrine in Asakusa. Legend has it that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645.
A musical show combining Balinese traditional instruments and Japanese Shamisen (guitar) with jazz musical rhythm made the song “Sakura” sound more melodious and artistic. The performance by Japanese artists received warm applause from those attending the commemoration at Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Tokyo.
Modernity without abandoning tradition as presented by the music was the image Garuda Indonesia wished to convey to its business partners in Japan and Japanese and Indonesian government representatives.
“This event constitutes an attempt to further promote Japan as a very important market of Garuda Indonesia,” Garuda Indonesia president director Emirsyah Satar said. It was also intended to strengthen ties between the Japanese and Indonesian communities.
The first Garuda Indonesia flight to Japan took place on March 13, 1962 from Kemayoran Airport, Jakarta to Haneda Airport, Tokyo, via Hong Kong. The 100-seat Lockheed L-118 Electra for the route was flown by pilot in command (PIC) Capt. A. Muthalib, Jusman Repon and Capt. Roekanto Jokomono.
From 1996, all Garuda Indonesia flights to Japan have used Airbus A330-300s, and since 2009 Garuda Indonesia has served its flights to Japan with the latest 222-seat A330-200s, comprising 36 business class passengers and 186 economy class passengers
The Jakarta Post
Wed, 04/25/2012 12:16 PM
A worker carries out repairs on the Tokyo Metro series 6000 electric train at the Balai Yasa depot in Bukit Duri, Manggarai, South Jakarta, on Tuesday. State-owned railway operator PT KAI has bought 20 used electric trains from Japan to add to its current fleet.
A worker carries out repairs on the Tokyo Metro series 6000 electric train at the Balai Yasa depot in Bukit Duri, Manggarai, South Jakarta, on Tuesday. State-owned railway operator PT KAI has bought 20 used electric trains from Japan to add to its current fleet.
JAPAN: East Japan Railway has awarded Knorr-Bremse a contract to supply braking systems for the 23 Series E6 high speed trainsets which are scheduled to enter service between Tokyo and Akita in early 2013. The 'major order' announced by Knorr-Bremse on April 26 includes brake discs, pads and compact lightweight callipers for motor bogies. The company has previously supplied braking systems for Series E5 trainsets and four prototype E6 cars. 'This commission shows that the systems delivered for the previous generation, the E5, lived up to the operator's high expectations', said Dr Dieter Wilhelm, executive board member responsible for Knorr-Bremse's Rail Vehicles Systems division. The tilting Series E6 trainsets will initially run at up to 300 km/h on high speed infrastructure, with an increase to 320 km/h planned for March 2014. Speeds will be lower on the mini-Shinkansen section of upgraded conventional route between Morioka and Akita.
OSAKA, April 27 (Xinhua) -- In July, Japan will launch a new feed-in-tariff scheme for renewable energy, expecting to encourage both solar and wind power projects in the country.
The new scheme was proposed by the central government aiming to reduce reliance on nuclear power after the radioactive disaster at Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant while diversifying methods of power generation.
Local press reported that a government panel proposed this week regional power utilities should purchase electricity at a rate of 42 yen (about 0.5 U.S. dollars) per kWh for solar power supplies.
The report said the proposed rate could meet earlier demands from the industry. Prior to the official start of the renewable energy incentive program, Japanese companies have accelerated setting up mega-solar projects over the past months especially in western and southern Japanese cities or towns where no major damages by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 are seen.
Among them, Japanese electronics giant Kyocera Corporation earlier this month unveiled plans to build Japan's largest solar plant in the country's southern city of Kagoshima. Kyocera said the new project would be jointly undertaken with heavy machinery manufacturer IHI Corporation and Mizuho Corporate Bank which will devise a financing plan for the project.
The three companies agreed to construct the 70-megawatte solar power plant, The total cost of the project is estimated at 25 billion yen (about 309 million U.S. dollars). The planned site of the solar plant is approximately 1,270,000 square meters, and construction is expected to start this July.
According to the plan, Kyocera will provide solar modules, using 290,000 panels, based on its 35 years of experience in the solar business while IHI will lease the land.
The Kagoshima solar farm will generate enough electricity to power 22,000 households while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25,000 tons annually. Kyocera stressed that the project would also serve as a business model to further explore chances to develop such utility-scale solar power generation that the country's utility companies also widely research in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.
"As Japan has little fossils fuel resources such as oil and gas, it is quite natural and reasonable to select renewable energy resources, particularly "solar" as the basic tool to find out other alternative choice to them." "Of course, solar power makes a better contribution to environmental protection, including the reduction of CO2 emissions," Chikako Morioka, Manager of Kyocera' s Communication Section told Xinhua.
She also pointed out that such projects would attract many industries in local areas, both vitalizing their economy and culture through the spread of renewable energy use.
Meanwhile, Japanese mobile telecoms group Softbank also set up its project to construct the 30-megawatte solar power facility in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture in western Japan.
According to the news release, SB Energy Corporation, Softbank' s clean energy unit and trading house Mitsui & Co. will jointly construct a plant on industrial estate with about 500,000 square meters of area. A SB Energy spokesperson said the company hopes to complete construction of the plant by the end of 2013 and the output of the plant could be enough to cover all electricity needs of about 7,500 households.
The energy firm also plans to build and operate mega-solar power plants with other partners at more than 10 locations in Japan, including major plants currently being constructed in Kyoto and Tokushima Prefectures in western Japan.
Softbank's Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son expressed his satisfaction regarding the proposed purchasing rate under the new feed-in-tariff scheme, telling reporters that the price would enough fit a series of his projects and boost renewable energy businesses in Japan.
In addition, major Osaka-based private electric railway company Kintetsu Corporation also revealed its plans to build a mega-solar plant in Mie Prefecture where the railway operator widely runs its train and bus networks.
The Kintetsu solar farm will produce 20 megawatts of electricity, supplying power to about 6,000 households in the prefecture. Kintetsu spokesperson Yuri Miyamoto told Xinhua that the company hopes to begin the operation from March 2014 and the produced electricity could be sold based on the government program.
Local paper said Kintetsu, severely affected by electricity- saving measures last year, will be the first railway operator in the country to construct such a large-scale solar farm for commercial purposes.
Munenori Nomura, a professor of economics at Kwansei Gakuin University, told Xinhua that development of solar projects, or wind, may promise attractive returns to those challenging companies under the new feed-in-tariff policy, but feasibility of such a renewable energy business will depend on potential capacity of the power generation in the end.
"Competing with other power generating ways such as in thermal or nuclear plants, the companies are required to maintain stability of the power generating which must supply enough amounts of electricity throughout the day and night," he said.
Before the Fukushima disaster, nuclear power generation had supplied about 30 percent of Japan's electricity over the years while dependence on fossil fuels also caused the country's CO2 emissions to increase.
"As long as the new program to utilize renewable resources within the national electricity grid brings a lot to the developers and people, 'mega-solar' can be the start of an effort to seek much safer way of energy supply in the country," Nomura added.
Knorr-Bremse has won a contract from Japanese rail operator JR East to supply brake systems for the new E6 generation of high-speed Shinkansen trains.
Under the deal, Knorr-Bremse will supply brake discs, brake callipers and brake pads for the traction bogies on 23 Series E6 high-speed trains that are scheduled to enter service between Tokyo and Akita in early 2013.
Knorr-Bremse, which had previously supplied braking systems for Series E5 trains and four prototype E6 models, said that compared to previous E5 generation, the new E6 trains will feature ultra-compact, weight-optimised brake callipers.
The company said the brake disc and the Isobar sintered brake pad have been developed to offer improved performance under various operational conditions. Knorr-Bremse had previously delivered braking systems for Series E5 trains and four prototype E6 cars.
The new E6 generation of Shinkansen trains will operate between Tokyo and Akita, on the west coast of the main island of Honshu, starting from spring 2013. The E6 series will also be coupled with cars from the older generation of E5 series trains on the stretch between Tokyo and Morioka.
In the first stage, the new E6 series trains will initially run at up to 300 km/h, which is expected to be increased to 320 km/h in Spring 2014.
The company said that the speeds will be reduced on the mini-Shinkansen section of upgraded conventional route between Morioka and Akita.
JR East, which was privatised in 1987, transports about 17 million passengers every day on its rail network, which spans over 7,500km.
Knorr-Bremse' rail product portfolio also includes door systems, control components, air conditioning systems, windscreen wiper systems and platform doors systems.
Image: Series E6 high-speed trains are scheduled to enter service between Tokyo and Akita in early 2013.Photo: courtesy of Sukhoi37.
Following criticism over its handling of passengers left stranded after last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake, JR East took the opportunity to test its revised emergency procedures during an earthquake simulation drill held by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Around 130 ‘passengers’ were led onto platforms where they were given food and water. The operator has identified parts of its stations that can be used as temporary shelters and plans to stockpile food, blankets and first aid kits.
Tokyo Metro is a rapid transit system serving the capital city of Japan. It is the world's busiest subway with 3.16 billion annual passenger rides (2010) and a daily ridership of 6.31 million people. It has been operated by Tokyo Metro since April 2004.
The metro system is comprised of nine lines with a total operating length of 203.4km. It has 179 stations in total.
History and line routes of Japan's capital city's rapid transit system
"Tokyo Metro placed an order for 240 bogies with steering with Sumitomo in February 2011. The bogies will be operational in 2012."
The Tokyo Underground Railway Company, which was established in August 1920, undertook the construction of the Tokyo Metro. It completed the first line of the metro, known as the Ginza Line.
Teito Rapid Transit Authority, which was established in July 1941, took over the operations of the metro. A new company called Tokyo Metro Co. was established in April 2004 and all operations of the metro were brought under the management of the new company.
The nine lines on the Tokyo Metro are named Ginza, Marunouchi, Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Yurakucho, Hanzomon, Namboku and Fukutoshin.
The Ginza and Marunouchi lines are of standard gauge (1,435mm), while all other lines are of narrow gauge (1,067mm). The trains operate at a speed of 80kmph.
Details of the nine lines along the Tokyo Metro network
Ginza was the first line built on the Tokyo Metro. The 14.3km long stretch serves Shibuya, Minato, Chuo, Chiyoda and Taito. It operates between Asakusa and Shibuya, with 19 intermediate stations.
Construction on the first subway section between Asakusa and Ueno was started in September 1925 and was completed in December 1927. The section between Ginza and Shimbashi was opened in June 1934. In December 1953, the Asakusa-Shibuya section was named as the Ginza Line.
Marunouchi is a 27.4km stretch between the Ogikubo Station and Toshima Ikebukuro Station, with a branch from Nakano-sakaue Station to Honancho Station. The U-shaped line has 28 stations.
In December 1953 the Ikebukuro-Shinjuku section was named as the Marunouchi Line. The Ikebukuro to Ochanomizu section, part of the line, was opened in January 1954. The whole stretch of this line was completed in March 1959.
Hibiya is a 20.3km long stretch between Naka-Meguro in Meguro and Kita-Senju in Adachi, with 21 intermediate stations.
The Minami-Senju to Naka-Okachimachi section of the line was opened in March 1961.
The Kita-Senju to Minami-Senju section and the Naka-Okachimachi to Ningyocho section were opened in May 1962.
The Higashi-Ginza to Kasumigaseki section of the Hibiya Line was opened in August 1964.
Tozai is a 30.8km stretch between Nakano Station in Nakano, Tokyo and Nishi-Funabashi Station in Funabashi, Chiba, made up of 23 intermediate stations.
The Takadanobaba to smeg section of this line was opened in December 1964. The Toyocho to Nishi-funabashi section was opened in March 1969.
Chiyoda is a 24km stretch serving the wards of Adachi, Arakawa, Bunkyo, Chiyoda, Minato and Shibuya. The line has 20 stations.
The Kita-Senju to Otemachi section of this line was opened in December 1969. The Ayase to Kita-Senju section was opened in April 1971. The Yoyogi-Koen to Yoyogi-Uehara section was opened in March 1978.
Yurakucho is a 28.3km stretch between Wakoshi Station in Wako, Saitama and Shin-Kiba Station in Koto, Tokyo, with 24 intermediate stations.
The Ikebukuro to Ginza-itchome section of the line was opened in October 1974. The Wakoshi to Eidan-Narimasu section was opened in August 1987. The Shintomicho and Shin-Kiba section was opened in June 1988.
Hanzomon is a 16.8km stretch serving Shibuya, Minato, Chiyoda, Chuo, Koto and Sumida. It comprises 14 stations.
The Shibuya to Aoyama-Itchome section of the line was opened in August 1978. The Suitengumae to Oshiage section was opened in March 2003.
Namboku is a 21.3km stretch between Meguro in Shinagawa and Akabane-Iwabuchi in Kita with 19 intermediate stations.
The Komagome to Akabane-Iwabuchi section of the line was opened in November 1991. The Meguro to Tameike-Sanno section was opened in September 2000. The Suitengumae to Oshiage section was opened in March 2003.
Fukutoshin is the newest line among the entire network. The whole length of the line is around 20.2km with 16 intermediate stations. It was opened on 14 June 2008.
Rolling stock from Hitachi used along the world's busiest subway system
Rolling stock for the Tokyo Metro was supplied by Hitachi. Ginza Line operates 01 series rolling stock. Marunouchi Line operates 02 series rolling stock. The Hibiya Line operates 03 series rolling stock. Tozai Line operates 05, 07 and 15000 series rolling stock.
"It has been operated by Tokyo Metro since April 2004."
The Chiyoda Line operates 06, 5000, 6000 and 16000 series rolling stock. The Hanzomon line operates 08 and 8000 series rolling stock. The Yurakucho Line and Fukutoshin Line operate 7000 and 10000 series rolling stock.
Rolling stock will be equipped with Mitsubishi's next generation Traction Inverter System which will save 30% energy with a 40% reduction in power loss. These new inverter systems will increase the performance of regenerative brakes, emit less noise and have a low maintenance. Installation will be done after completion of trial tests which have been going since January 2012.
Tokyo Metro placed an order for 240 bogies with steering with Sumitomo in February 2011. The bogies will be operational in 2012.
Signalling and communication along Tokyo's public transport network
Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Ginza, Yurakucho and Hanzomon lines use the Cab Signalling-Automatic Train Control System (CS-ATC).
Signalling of the Tokyo Metro takes place through Automatic Train Control System. The Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Ginza, Yurakucho and Hanzomon lines use the Cab Signalling-Automatic Train Control System (CS-ATC).
Toei Subway network, in Tokyo, Japan, is operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, a public transportation authority.
It is one of the two rapid transit systems serving the capital city of Japan, in the Kanto region.
The operations of the Toei subway network started in 1960. The subway is 121.5km long, with four lines and 106 stations.
Four lines making up the Toei subway: Asakusa, Mita, Shinjuku and Oedo
"All the lines making up the Toei subway network operate on 1500V DC overhead catenary power supply."
Toei subway consists of four lines, namely Asakusa, Mita, Shinjuku and Oedo.
The Asakusa Line, also called Line 1, is an 18.3km stretch between Nishi-magome in Ota and Oshiage, in Sumida. The line was built on a standard gauge track and has an operating speed of 70kmph. The first 3.2km section of this line was opened in December 1960. The whole stretch was completed in different phases by 1968.
The line operates private trains on some routes, including the Keikyu Main Line to Misakiguchi, Keikyu Airport Line to Haneda Airport, Keisei Oshiage Line to Inba-Nihon-Idai, Keisei Main Line to Narita Airport, plus the Shibayama Railway Line to Shibayama-Chiyoda.
Mita line, also known as Line 6, is a 26.5km stretch operating between Meguro in Shinagawa and Nishi-Takashimadaira in Itabashi. The line operates on a narrow gauge (1,067mm) track with a speed of 75kmph.
Automatic platform gates which work synchronously with the train doors are installed throughout the line.
Tokyo Metro, Kanto Region, Japan
Tokyo Metro is a rapid transit system serving the capital city of Japan. It is the world's busiest subway with 3.16 billion annual passenger rides.
The Shinjuku Line, also named Line 10, is a 23.5km stretch between Shinjuku and Motoyawata in Ichikawa, Chiba. The line operates on a medium gauge (1,372mm) track at speeds of up to 75kmph.
Oedo Line, also called Line 12, is a 40.7km stretch between Hikarigaoka and Tochomae. The line operates on a standard gauge track with a speed of 70kmph. It is completely underground and is the second longest tunnel in Japan and seventh longest in the world.
The line was opened on 12 December 2000. It took ten years for its construction and cost about $12.37bn. It is used daily by an estimated 0.8 million people. There are plans to extend the line westwards from Hikarigaoka Station through Oizumigakuen Station to Higashi-Tokorozawa Station.
Infrastructure throughout Japan's rapid transit public transport system
Automatic gates are installed at the entrance of each station to provide access to only those who purchased the ticket.
All the lines making up the Toei subway network operate on 1500V DC overhead catenary power supply. Automatic ticketing counters are set up at every station.
Tokyo Sky Tree, Japan
The Tokyo Sky Tree became the tallest free-standing structure in the world when it reached its final height of 634m in 2011.
Automatic gates are installed at the entrance of each station to provide access to only those who purchased the ticket.
Asakusa Line has 20 stations, in which some are Airport Limited Express Stops. This line is represented with a rose colour. Mita line has 27 stations with automatic platform gates in each station.
This line is represented in blue. Shinjuku Line has 21 stations with some Airport Limited Express Stops. This line is represented with green. Oedo Line has 38 stations and is the newest among all the lines.
ATS systems on Tokyo's Toei network and rolling stock on the subway
Toei subway is equipped with automatic train stoppage (ATS) systems.
"The operations of the Toei subway network started in 1960. The subway is 121.5km long, with four lines and 106 stations."
Asakusa Line operates Toei 5300 series electric multiple units. Keisei Electric Railway operates 3300 series, New 3000 series, 3400 series, 3500 series, 3600 series and 3700 series rolling stock on the subway.
Keikyu operates New 1000 series, 600 series and 1500 series rolling stock. Hokuso operates 7500 series, 7300 series, 7260 series, 9100 series and 9000 series rolling stock. Shibayama operates 3600 series rolling stock.
The Mita Line operates Toei 6300 series electric multiple unit rolling stock, Tokyu 3000 series and Tokyu 5080 series. Shinjuku Line operates Toei 10-300 series, 10-300R series and 10-000 series rolling stock.
Keio Corporation operates 9030 series and 6030 series rolling stock. Oedo Line operates Toei 12-000 series rolling stock.
Recently I spent six weeks in Tokyo for a project entirely unrelated to my transportation writing at Atlantic Cities, except insofar as they both involve the planet Earth and the human race. Still, I intended to keep a scorecard comparing Tokyo's transportation system to that of New York. I kept score for about two days before stopping, mostly out of pointlessness and a little out of patriotism. It was clear even at this early stage which city would win.
No doubt a glass-half-emptyist such as myself could find fault with elements of Tokyo's transportation network given the proper time and linguistic capacity. But within my admittedly limited sample set I found the network — particularly the intra- and intercity rail system — difficult to overrate. The worst you can probably say about it is that it very efficiency creates a problem of crowding. Which, to keep the sports metaphor going, is a little like complaining about the jog after hitting a homerun.
So I'll invoke the mercy rule and, rather than provide a halfway completed scorecard that was tending toward a shutout, offer instead a few broad observations, for New York's own system to take or leave as it will. Hopefully take.
Contrary to popular myth, not everyone arrives into Tokyo in a plane that looks like this:
When you do arrive into Narita Airport, Tokyo's main international entry point, you're about an hour and a half from the downtown area — which itself is often half an hour from other parts of the rather expansive city. You can take a taxi into the city from Narita for a fare on the order of several hundred dollars. You can take public rail transit into the city for a fraction of the cost of a cab but a multiple of the hassle, at least if you have big bags. Or you can do the sensible thing and take what's called the Airport Limousine Bus service for about $40.
That modest fee includes a comfortable ride, an orderly boarding process, great attendance to your baggage, and tip, which in Japan is always zero. Though the system is not limited to English-speaking travelers it's clearly intended for them — which, as I'd later find, pretty much goes for all Tokyo transportation. The Limo Bus doesn't travel to every hotel in the city, but dollars to donuts (yen to rice balls?) it goes to one that's either a short walk or quick cab ride from wherever you're staying.
The service is almost suspiciously well-staffed and as a result extremely efficient. Narita ground transportation is ringed with numbered signs and digital placards whose departure times and places appear in English. People stand in neat lines marked by chalk. Boarding assistants position your bags, after they're tagged by destination, at the precise spot where they'll be loaded onto the bus. When it arrives, luggage assistants run over and load all the bags even before the last person is on board. Announcements are in English too, including the one that tells you to silence your cell phones "as they annoy the neighbors." When your bus pulls away, the boarding assistant bows in its direction.
Confusing as the system seems on paper, it's very simple in practice. That's especially true for English speakers. Automatic card vendors have an English button, and if you're still able to make a mistake a little bell goes off and an attendant pops out of a door in the wall you didn't know was there and fixes the problem. Video displays on board oscillate to English, and the final speaker announcement for each station is also given an English — a practice very welcome to this tourist but which must grate on city residents.
In truth you don't even really need to speak any language to ride: just know how to count and recite the alphabet. Each station, in addition to having a name, has a letter-number combination denoting the line and stop number. So if you have trouble at first recognizing the name Azabu-Juban, you can instead just make sure you're heading for N-4 — the fourth stop on the Namboku line. There is also a wonderfully helpful map on every platform that shows you which car to board based on your destination or transfer needs.
The lines themselves are seamlessly integrated despite being owned by different companies: you can take the JR Yamanote line to the Mita line on the Toei system to the Namboku train on the Tokyo Metro system without ever leaving a station or buying a different fare card. The cars have cushioned seats and floors you could eat off and an abundance of hanging straps. I once counted 87 in a single car. The (numerous) ads not only grace the walls of the cars but also hang from the ceiling, and flap a bit in the breeze of the air ducts.
The entire system is almost impossibly neat and orderly. The bathrooms in the stations are perfectly acceptable to use. I didn't see a beggar or performer on a train once in six weeks, and even the guy who sells concessions on the platform wears a suit to work. In the morning people naturally form lines where the doors will open before the train arrives, and the platform speakers pipe in bird calls to increase the serenity. The floors of both the stations and the cars seemed clean enough to eat off.
Speaking of mornings, the early rush is everything it's made it out to be. Take the most crowded car you've ever been on in Washington or New York and add, oh, 30 percent more passengers. You don't have to worry about holding a pole or a strap because there's nowhere to move: you're essentially a subatomic particle. The only thing between you and any number of moral and federal offenses is a thin layer of polyester; once you reach a stop you feel partly obliged to cuddle with those around you. That said, at every stop, those nearest the door funnel out to allow others to disembark, then funnel back in with great aplomb.
Still there are concerns about groping on trains during the morning rush, so there are Women Only cars for those times. Of course the act of groping implies a freedom of movement which, in my rush-hour experience, did not exist. I'm also told that some men, to avoid such accusations, sometimes ride with their hands above their head — like a basketball player does to show he hasn't committed a foul — in what's called a bonsai commute.
I did ride several buses in the outskirts of the city but found little of note about them besides, once again, cushioned seats, and also the fact that they turn off their engines at every red light, presumably to conserve fuel and/or mitigate exhaust.
Intercity Rail System
I'm hardly the first to say it, but Japanese bullet trains — called the shinkansen — are also as good as advertised. Not to sound like a broken record, but these too are quite easy to use for an English speaker: the same digital arrival and departure signs that oscillate to English; the same on-board intercom announcement in English, though in a British accent; even the car diagrams on the tray table in front of you offer English.
Now the ticketing process can be a bit confusing. Unlike Amtrak, which has a single fare ticket from station to station, the shinkansen requires you to purchase both a basic rail fare and then also a seat fare. The rail fare, for example, covers passage in the Tokyo-Hakata corridor, but an additional seat fare must be paid to reserve an assigned seat. You can also buy a non-reserved seat fare, for slightly less money, and duke it out in the non-reserved cars with other passengers.
Shinkansen platforms, like those of the Limo Bus, are well-organized. Taped lines and hanging signs (again, which oscillate to English) show you where to stand based on which car you've been assigned and which train you're taking. (While Amtrak offers only regional or Acela trains, there are several types of shinkansen, ranging up to the Nozomi, or superexpress.) Platforms have vending machines, proper convenience stores, and smoking sections, where passengers huddle around air vents.
Watching the JR staff turn a shinkensen at the end of the line is really something. Once a train arrives workers blitz through the cars, wiping down seats and tray tables and window sills and generally straightening the place up. Then they flip the seats with the push of a lever so they face the other direction. The task is taken seriously: when passengers are finally allowed to enter, the platform agent bows to let you know it's time.
The bowing continues on-board — it's done every single time a conductor or cart vendor enters or exits the car. There's no quiet car, but there doesn't have to be. Anyone who receives a call steps out to the space between the cars to talk. There's a small vending machine between many of the cars, and smoking rooms between others. In addition to bathroom stalls there is just a general sink area in case you simply want to freshen. Some trains offer both Western and Japanese toilets: to sit or to squat, that is the question.
The seats are often filled despite holding more passengers than Amtrak. Instead of a two-two seating arrangement, the shinkansen have three-two seating. (The automatic ticket vendors intelligently assign the middle seats last, so that you can often ride, at least part of the way, with a free seat beside you.) The only complaint I had was a lack of electrical outlets, though that's only true on the slower trains. On Nozomi every window seat has an outlet of its own.
A lot of people ride bicycles in Tokyo. The popularity of cycling holds true despite the fact that there don't seem to be any bike lanes in Tokyo. That's impressive but also annoying, since it means a great many people ride on the already crowded sidewalks. No one wears a helmet. This is only halfway related to biking, but it seemed worth mentioning that food-delivery people ride scooters with heated compartments that hold the food.
What's striking to an American in Tokyo is just how many women ride bikes. What's striking to a New Yorker is how many people leave their bikes places without locking them. I won't say I thought seriously about starting a bike-lock business and hiring a number of bike thieves for pretty cheap to get it going. But it's possible the idea crossed my mind.
Tokyo is a very populous city so it's not surprising that the sidewalks and crosswalks are often very crowded. I once wondered whether the famous Shibuya crossing was the Worst. Crosswalk. Ever. but having visited in person it's hard not to appreciate how many people are accommodating at a single intersection, all while cars wait patiently. (There's very little honking in Tokyo compared to New York.)
An American pedestrian in Tokyo also can't help but notice the corrugated yellow stripes that line pretty much every walkway. At first I thought this was to separate lanes of walkers, something I've always wanted in the United States, but I'm told these are actually guides for the blind. It seems like a lot of effort for a small part of the population — that's not to say it isn't admirable, of course — but it speaks, like the English announcements and cell-phone courtesies, to a general transportation culture of accommodating others.
The only element of Tokyo transportation I feel unable to evaluate with any authority is car travel. I know they drive on the left and don't honk much, but that's about it. I can remark only in brief on the taxi situation: it's expensive, with a starting fare up around $8-10, but you can pay with your subway pass — a remarkable feat of urban transport integration. (Side note: you can also use the pass to pay at most food vendors inside a station.) Also the taxi drivers wear suits and hats and some of them even white gloves. And they don't talk on their cell phone or headset. That might be annoying to the neighbors.
Japan: NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank are sharing the cost installing wi-fi on all Toei and Tokyo Metro lines.
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