The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

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Thursday, August 29, 2002

TOKYO -- Tokyo Monorail (aka "Tokyo-Haneda") -- PART TWO (Monorail 15)

From the Cabalmaster:

As outlined previously, the Tokyo Monorail was built as a full-scale private-sector venture, without any government or airline-industry investment. However, after the1964 Olympics were over, the line became unprofitable and had to be rescued by supplier Hitachi. Airport traffic grew steadily, and new stations were added gradually to serve on-line development. The Monorail became profitable in 1972, and resumed "independent" operation as Tokyo Monorail Co, Ltd, in 1981. Hitachi Transportation Systems remained the sole shareholder until very recently.

Traffic at Haneda Airport grew from 3.9 million in 1965 to 49.3 million in 1997, despite relocation of nearly all international flights to Narita Airport in 1978. By this time, Haneda was the world's sixth busiest airport. Annual Monorail traffic grew from three million to more than 60 million per year during the same period. The line enjoyed a 60 percent market share of airport traffic for many years, but plans for airport expansion finally attracted the attention of Keikyu management.

In 1983, the Transport Ministry began a project to expand Haneda Airport's capacity from 22 million to 85 million passengers annually. New terminals were built 2.5 km east of the original. The Monorail company built a 3.2-mile extension to the new terminal. This opened in 1993, and the 0.6-mile section to the old terminal was closed at the same time. The new tunnels beneath the runways were built by the government and leased to the Monorail company for an annual payment of 2.5 percent of appraised value. The extension cost about $880 million in today's dollars. Fifteen percent was paid by the central government. The remainder was financed by loans, with interest subsidized by central and local governments.

Also in 1983, Keikyu secured authority (a "license," as the Japanese say) to build an underground extension to the airport terminals. It started construction in 1988, opened a new underground station near the airport in 1993, and completed the project at the end of 1998. Cost: about $665 million in today's dollars, with 17.5 percent paid by the central government. The company borrowed the remainder from the Japan Development Bank. Keikyu pays an annual rent equal to 2.3 percent of appraised value for the tunnels within the airport perimeter. The extension was anticipated to increase traffic on the branch (long known as the "Airport Line" even though trains did not enter the airport) from 28,000 to 35,000 passengers daily.

The Monorail carried 60,000 to 80,000 airport passengers per day prior to opening of the Keikyu extension. Airport traffic made up 60 to 70 percent of all Monorail passengers. Total traffic fell by 15 percent following completion of the Keikyu airport extension.

The Tokyo Monorail has had four generations of rolling stock. It opened with 47 cars and two diesel shop switchers. The early rolling stock was arranged in three-car sets; each car was 35' 5" long. A photo of a test run one month prior to opening shows a nine-car train. Cars purchased after 1969 were 49' 10" long. Air conditioning was introduced in 1982. Today, the Monorail has 114 aluminum-bodied cars, permanently coupled in 19 six-car trains. All were built by Hitachi. The newest vehicles are 9' 11" wide overall, 14' 10' high overall, 9' 4" over the support beam top surface, and 7' 5" over the passenger compartment floor.

Cross-sectional dimensions of the support beam: 4' 7" high x 2' 7" wide. Traction current is 750V dc.

Performance specifications: acceleration 1.9 mph/sec, service braking 2.2 mph/sec, emergency braking 2.8 mph/s. The maximum permitted speed is 50 mph.

Scheduled running time over the line is 22 minutes for 10.5 miles, giving a "schedule speed" of 28 mph.

The minimum interval between trains is 3 min 20 sec; which is operated during the a.m. peak. However, this is not sustained over a 60-minute interval. The maximum number of trains per hour is 19, which is typical of Japanese practice. Japanese "rail" systems avoid operating headways shorter than 3 min when possible.

The minimum headway is set by the inner terminal, which is single-"track." The "old" Haneda terminal had two tracks, but the 0.5-mile tunnel leading to it was single-track. A planned new double-track terminal at Hamamatsu-cho would permit a minimum headway of 2 min.

Service operates every 4-5 minutes throughout the day, between 5 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. On weekdays, there are 254 "down" (toward Haneda) and 255 "up" (toward Hamamatsu-cho) trains. On Sundays and holidays, there are 234 "down" and 235 "up" trains.

As traffic grew, midday service was progressively increased: from 10 to 8 min in 1970, to 7 minutes in 1971, to 6 min in 1973, and to 5 min in 1985. The new, longer "bogie" stock acquired from 1969 was operated in four-car trains until completion of platform lengthening in 1974. All trains were lengthened to six cars with the July 1983 timetable change. The most recent improvement, being completed early in 2002, was addition of automatic platform barriers (as used at the Westlake Center monorail terminal in Seattle). These would permit driver-only operation of trains.

The maximum hourly traffic volume is reported at 10,512 passengers per hour (per direction). As staed above, the maximum service level is 19 trains/hr per direction, and each six-car train is 93.6 meters long. This works out to 92 pass/veh and 5.9 passengers per meter of vehicle length, averaged over the busiest hour. These statistics are not remarkable for Japan -- but are 20-50 percent higher than the 4 to 5 pass/m "maximum" for most U.S. and Canadian cities.

In other words, to carry 10,512 American or Canadian consumers per hour, the Monorail would have to provide 20 to 50 percent more peak-period service than it does -- and can -- today.

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