Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya Station is going through yet another change: Starting Saturday, the Tokyu Toyoko Line and the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line will be directly connected, enabling passengers to travel between Saitama and Yokohama without changing trains.
“There will be a main artery (connecting Saitama and Yokohama) running through the Tokyo metropolitan area. This will be a huge benefit for consumers,” said Masayuki Yanagisawa, a spokesman for Tokyu Corp., the Toyoko Line’s operator.
The Toyoko Line connects Shibuya and Yokohama, while the Fukutoshin Line runs between Shibuya and Wakoshi in Saitama. The Fukutoshin also shares stations between Ikebukuro and Wakoshi with the Yurakucho Line. In addition, the Fukutoshin connects passengers directly to the Tobu Tojo and Seibu Ikebukuro lines, which run to other parts of Saitama Prefecture, including the cities of Kawagoe and Hanno.
“Some people have been reluctant to go out because it is inconvenient to make a transit, but they will be able to travel more easily to these areas now,” hopefully stimulating more shopping and tourism, said Yanagisawa.
Motomachi Chukagai Station will serve as the terminus in Yokohama, and its counterparts in Saitama are either Hanno or Shinrinkoen stations. It will take about 1½ hours to travel between them.
The new line will not only facilitate family outings on weekends and holidays, but also will benefit commuters who use the Toyoko and Fukutoshin lines and currently have to switch trains at Shibuya.
About 420,000 people use the Toyoko Line at Shibuya Station every day, according to Tokyu.
The railway said the travel time from Yokohama to Shibuya will be shortened by two minutes during the morning rush hour, also from Saturday. In addition, the carrier will increase the number of 10-car trains so that more passengers can be accommodated.
Tokyu estimates that connecting the Toyoko and Fukutoshin lines will increase the number of passengers on its lines by 1.8 percent and boost fare revenues by 1.9 percent.
While Shibuya Station was built aboveground, in front of the recently completed Hikarie building, the Toyoko Line will begin using the Fukutoshin Line’s subway station from Saturday.
Some might wonder how it is possible to switch everything underground overnight, but Tokyu has built underground rails to connect the lines. Trains will depart from the Fukutoshin Line’s Shibuya subway station and gradually make their way to ground level and merge with surface rails right before Daikanyama Station.
The Toyoko Line’s current facility at Shibuya Station will be used as an event space called Ekiato (Station Site) from March 26 to May 6. After that, the site will be razed and a new office-commercial complex will be built.