The Japanese Railway
By Anthony Robins
New Faces Tetsudō Fan/Tetsudō Journal/Oliver Mayer/Chunichi Shimbun/Yokkaichi City/Kyoto Museum/Asahi Shimbun/Tetsudō Hobidas
Montagnes et Mers' is the name of yet another sightseeing train.
Converted from classic KiHa 40 2027 at Kanazawa depot, it began
operation on the two lines either side of Takaoka, the Himi and Jōhana
Lines, with two return workings on Saturdays and Sundays respectively
from 10th October. Livery is a very smart deep green and
gold, while seating is box type facing (one side) and outward facing
with counter (other side) with a total capacity of 39.
attractive but more complex red, black and gold livery, somewhat like a
lacquer box, is worn by another sightseeing train, the two car
'Hanayome no ren'. It is formed of KiHa 48 4 and KiHa 48 1004 which can
accommodate a total of 52.
27th September saw a
change at the Asunaro Railway in Yokkaichi in Mie, the 762 mm operation
which was formerly part of Kintetsu, with the entry into service of a
'new' train, actually refurbished end cars 161 and 261, plus a new
middle car 181. Featuring external LED lights, air conditioning and two
wheelchair spaces, livery is white (upper) and blue (lower).
the closure of the Umekōji Steam Locomotive Hall in Kyōto and transfer
of stock from the former JR West museum in Bentenchō, Ōsaka, the grand
opening of the new Kyōto Railway Museum took place on 29th April.
is another special livery for Nankai’s ‘Rapi:t’, with a ’Star Wars’
themed mainly black livery for a set operating four to eight return
trips daily on most days between Namba in Ōsaka and Kansai
International Airport from 21st November until 8th May.
November saw the start of appearances by 'Pepper', a humanoid robot, at
Keihin Kyūkō's Haneda Airport International Terminal Station. The robot
will be available to advise passengers in English and Japanese between
06:00 and 23:00, with a break between 10:00 and 14:00.
Bowing Out JR Tokai/Norimono News/Mainichi Shimbun/Response.jp/Tetsudō Hobidas
for 20 more N700A sets in the 2016 to 2019 financial years see the end
of the use of type 700s. One N700A set will be added in 2016, followed
by seven in both 2017 and 2018, and five in 2019. These sets will
feature new brake linings and pantograph features. Cost for the new
sets and updating existing sets will be 104 billion yen.
Keisei’s 2nd generation ‘Skyliner’, the AE100 type in white livery with blue and red stripes, saw its final operation on 29th
November. Latterly operating the ‘Cityliner service’, its use had
decreased to a return run on Saturdays and Sundays from November 2014,
meaning that 29th November was the final day, although the timetable change was actually from 5th December.
Spring 2016 timetable change sees ticket checks in reserved cars on the
Tōkaidō Shinkansen phased out, as with greater automation through
ticket barriers and around 30% of passengers using the automated
‘express yoyaku (reservation)’ system, ticket checks have been rendered
Although Spring 2016 marks a milestone for JR
Hokkaidō, with the opening of the Hokkaidō Shinkansen, retrenchment
will also take place. Due to the ageing state of its DMU fleet, 79
local train runs will be discontinued or reduced in length.
temporary winter closures in 2013 and 2014, two stations on JR East’s
Yamada Line, Ōshida and Asagishi, will close permanently with the next
Number One Nikkei Trendy/Mainichi Shimbun
Hokuriku Shinkansen, which started operation on 14th March, was
crowned ‘No. 1 hit product of 2015’ by Nikkei Trendy, a Japanese
business magazine. In the first six months of service, 4.82
million passengers used the service, up 303% from ridership of the
preceding ‘Hakutaka’ and ‘Hokuetsu’ limited expresses. Visitors from
the Kantō area have overtaken the traditional Kansai heartland and have
even increased in Fukui Prefecture, although it will not be extended
there until 2023.
Road to Recovery The Japan Times
Wakayama Electric Railway’s Kishigawa Line, former home of famed cat,
Tama, and now Nitama, is due to gain renewed financial assistance.
Wakayama Prefecture and two cities, Wakayama itself and Kinokawa, plan
to provide more than 1 billion yen over the ten years from the 2016
financial year. Assistance since the line was taken over from Nankai in
2006 has amounted to 1.2 billion yen, through covering losses. The
latter have fallen from 500 million yen in the 2005 financial year to
around 80 million yen in the years since 2008, while passengers have
risen from just over 1.9 million in the 2005 financial year to close to
2.3 million in the 2013 financial year.
Hit by the March 2011 earthquake, Sendai’s eastern Wakabayashi Ward received a boost on 6th
December with the opening of the 13.9 km Tōzai Line from Arai in that
ward to Yagiyama Dōbutsukōen in the west of the city. This underground
line, Sendai’s second, has 13 stations and a journey takes 26 minutes.
The city government expects about 80,000 passengers daily, with a rise
of 3% annually, and hopes to make a profit within a decade and
eliminate cumulative losses by its 24th year of operations.
Preparations JR East
In readiness for
the opening of the Hokkaidō Shinkansen through the Seikan Tunnel, rare
(by British standards) track occupations will take place, with trains
such as the ‘Hakuchō’, ’Super Hakuchō’ and ‘Hamanasu’ not operating on the nights of 31st December and 1st January, as well as the latter day itself, while a four day period from 22nd March immediately before opening, will see similar service suspensions.
Teething Problems Asahi Shimbun/Nikkei Asian Review
JR East's new type for Tōkyō's Yamanote Line, the E235, faced difficulties on its first public service on 30th November. The difficulties included overshooting at Meguro and both train doors and platform doors not functioning at Ōsaki.
Finally, it stopped short of its target at Ōtsuka. Passengers were then
told to disembark and the set was taken out of operation,
inconveniencing around 17,000 passengers. The next day’s operation of
the 11 car set, the first of 51 sets due to enter service by the 2020
Tokyo Olympics, was cancelled. The type features innovative technology,
including analysis of data collected via image sensors which can detect
rail flaws, and a faster communication system called ‘Interos’. A JR
East official stated that it was “pretty much unprecedented” for a new
model to suffer major malfunctions on its first day. Although it had
run over 10,000 km in trials since mid-April, full capacity conditions
had only been tried in simulations.
Another hundred in sight Tetsudō Shimbun
Sōtetsu (Sagami Tetsudō) has reached its centenary and 5th
November saw it announce its ‘Design Up Project’, with renewal of
stations and rolling stock, particularly its 9000 series, which will
feature a deep blue ‘Yokohama Navy Blue’ livery and new interiors from
2016. This is in readiness for through services to JR East in 2018,
with a 2.7 km link from Sōtetsu to the Tōkaidō Freight Line, followed
in 2019 by a 10 km link between Sōtetsu and Tōkyū
Elevated Mainichi Shimbun
In preparation for the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Fukui in 2020, the local 3rd-sector Echizen Tetsudō has risen to use the shinkansen's future elevated platform at Fukui. 23rd
September saw five return test trains operate over the 1.3 km between
Fukuiguchi and the elevated terminus. Regular service began on 27th September. Such a use is somewhat similar to Hankyū using a section of the unfinished Tōkaidō Shinkansen in 1963.
Station Matters Asahi Shimbun/The Japan Times/Mainichi Shimbun/Traffic News
September 30th saw Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof join Tōkyō
as its fourth sister station, following Amsterdam Central, Grand
Central in New York and Hsinchu in Taiwan. Deutsche Bahn invited JR
East to make this relationship, based on similar numbers of daily
passengers, 450,000 for Frankfurt versus 420,000 at Tōkyō.
prevent both accidental and deliberate fatalities, chest-high platform
doors are due to be fitted at 800 stations around the country by the
2020 financial year, up from the 583 stations covered by the end of the
2013 financial year. By the end of the 2015 platform door installation
at 23 out of 29 JR East Yamanote Line stations will have been
completed, with work at Nippori, Ueno and Kanda. That leaves six more
to be completed, at major stops at Tōkyō, Shimbashi, Hamamatsucho, Shinagawa, Shibuya and Shinjuku.
of the 2020 Tōkyō Olympics and Paralympics, Tōkyō Metropolitan
Government, Shinjuku Ward and railway companies have set up a joint
panel to standardise information signage and increase barrier-free
facilities at Shinjuku station, which is used by an average 3.58
million passengers. One motivation is to avoid discrepancies in
signage, as for example the use of Keio Shinsen Line by Tōkyō Metropolitan Government but Keio New Line by the railway company which operates it.
September saw JR West ban 'selfie sticks' on its platforms, reasoning
that they can annoy other passengers and could cause safety issues by
making contact with trains or power lines. They were already banned on
the section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Nagano and Kanazawa from
when it opened in March. In contrast, JR West has installed nearly 50
cameras at busy Kyōbashi in Ōsaka
to detect unusual movements by passengers, particularly those who are
drunk and who periodically fall onto tracks. Meanwhile, on 2nd
November, JR East in cooperation with three mobile phone service
providers, started a campaign with posters reading “Stop using your
smartphones while walking!” While three years ago the company only
received a handful of complaints from people who had been put in
danger, this had grown to more than 100 in 2014. Apparently, several
people fall off platforms every year while looking at phones.
Moving Forward Tōyō Keizai/The Japan Times/Mainichi Shimbun
November, following a visit to the Maglev test route in Yamanashi
prefecture, the latest U.S. dignitary to ride the line, Anthony Foxx,
the U.S. Transport Secretary, offered support for the planned
Washington DC – Baltimore maglev project which JR Tokai has championed.
November saw Japanese public-private fund, the Japan Overseas
Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban
Development, in the final stage of negotiations to invest about 4
billion yen towards the expected 1.5 trillion yen (12 billion dollars)
cost of a planned high-speed line between Dallas and Houston, which
aims to go into operation in 2021 with trains using JR Tokai shinkansen
technology taking 90 minutes for the 400 km. The fund will also take a
stake in the project’s managing company, Texas Central Partners.
Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, signed a bilateral accord in New Delhi on 12th
December which included collaboration on a 505 km long high speed route
between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in Western India, based on shinkansen
technology. Previously referred to in ‘Bullet-In 78’, it is estimated
to cost 980 billion rupees (14.6 billion dollars or 1.81 trillion yen)
and will be begun in 2017, with the aim of starting operations in 2023.
Top speed is projected to be 320 km per hour, allowing a journey as
fast as 2 hours 7 minutes. The Japanese government expects to provide
loans covering up to 80% of the project, excluding land acquisition
News Update Archive