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The 426-km railway network of the Tokyo metropolitan area should be extended or interlinked in a more efficient manner by 2015 to ease rush-hour congestion, according to a report submitted Thursday to Transport Minister Toshihiro Nikai. The plan, drawn up by the Transport Policy Council, recommends that the JR Tohoku, Takasaki and Joban lines, which run between JR Ueno Station in Tokyo and the northern Kanto region, be extended to Tokyo Station so passengers can make a direct connection to the JR Tokaido Line, which runs to Osaka. The council also recommends building a railway loop in Yokohama to serve the city’s busiest districts, including the port areas of Motomachi, Nakayama, Hiyoshi and Tsurumi. The whole plan, which also includes constructing new railway, subway and monorail systems within a 50-km radius of central Tokyo, is estimated at 7.2 trillion yen, according to the report. The council also recommends that railway facilities be modified to improve access and safety for elderly and disabled riders. The number of daily railway passengers in the metropolis is projected to hit 23.7 million by 2015, a 2 percent increase over 1995, in line with a rise in aged and female workers, the report said. Among other recommendations, the report also proposes that a rail line be constructed through Kawasaki’s Asao Ward from JR Kawasaki Station to Shin-Yurigaoka Station on the Odakyu Line. It also urges that some railway sections be extended to improve access to Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture and Haneda airport in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, because more people are expected to fly in the future. According to the Transport Ministry, about 44 percent of a 567-km rail network that was to undergo extension as the council urged in 1985 has been completed, and about 31 percent remains under construction.

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