Construction is now in full swing to ease one of the most notorious problems in Tokyo — overcrowded trains during rush hour.

Tokyu Corp.’s long-running project is designed to double the number of tracks on a 4.8-km section of the Toyoko Line to give train commuters more breathing space. The project will increase the number of tracks from two to four between Tamagawa-en Station in Tokyo’s Ota Ward and Hiyoshi Station in Kawasaki’s Kohoku Ward.

During the average morning rush hour, passengers pack the trains to nearly 200 percent of both seating and standing capacity. Even after the project is completed, passengers will not all be able to get a seat. But overcrowding will be eased to about 160 percent and it will at least give each passenger enough elbow room to read a newspaper, the railway company claims.

Construction started 10 years ago and completion is planned for the spring of 2000. The company is also renovating a number of stations on the line, including Meguro, Ookayama, Musashi-Kosugi and Hiyoshi stations. At Denen-Chofu Station, all tracks have been moved underground. On the surface, business facilities are being planned and former station buildings with historical value will be reconstructed.

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