East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) announced in early June it will open a new station on the Yamanote loop in Tokyo in time for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

It’s the first station to be added to the line in more than 40 years.

Here are some questions and answers on the planned station and the related development projects.

Where will the new station be built?

The new station will sit roughly halfway between Shinagawa and Tamachi stations, which are also served by the Keihin-Tohoku Line running north-south from Saitama to Kanagawa prefectures.

The project will take up most of what is now a 20-hectare rail yard in the Konan district of Minato Ward.

The closest existing station is Sengakuji on the Toei Asakusa and Keikyu lines, located approximately 300 meters to the northwest.

Why was the rail yard chosen as the site?

JR East plans to keep fewer trains there, freeing up space for development.

“A rail interlink scheduled to open in spring 2015, which will contribute to reducing the size of the Shinagawa Rail Yard, will make it possible to create a site for development,” JR East spokesman Takashi Yamaguchi said.

The Takasaki, Utsunomiya and Joban lines will be extended from Ueno to Tokyo stations, connecting them directly with the Tokaido Line running to the west.

“We won’t have to store so many trains at the Shinagawa yard because we can utilize other yards on the Tokaido, Utsunomiya, Takasaki and Joban lines,” freeing up a 13-hectare plot of land for the new station and for urban development, Yamaguchi explained.

In addition, the tracks for the Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku and Tokaido lines between Shinagawa and Tamachi will be shifted up to 120 meters east, the spokesman said.

When will the station be ready?

“We will begin operating the station in time for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020,” Yamaguchi said, adding it will be a “tentative opening” since some facilities, including the shops, won’t be finished by that time.

No date has yet been set for the start of construction, Yamaguchi said.

What will be the main features of the facility?

The as-yet-unnamed station will be the 30th on the Yamanote Line. The most recent one built was Nishi-Nippori Station in Arakawa Ward, which opened in 1971.

On the Keihin-Tohoku Line it will be the 36th station built and the first since Saitama-Shintoshin Station in 2000.

JR East said it plans to develop the area next to the new station to create “a hub for international exchange.”

The project area is intended to “attract companies and human resources from abroad,” according to the railway. Media reports say the area will have commercial facilities, office high-rises, housing units and hotels with conference halls.

“We will spend about a year to craft an urban planning draft with the parties engaged in the project,” including the central and metropolitan governments and Minato Ward, Yamaguchi said.

Hiroo Ichikawa, a professor of urban policy at Meiji University’s graduate school, said the project is unprecedented in scale. JR East has never before undertaken a project of this size in central Tokyo.

Ichikawa said the station plan is markedly different in nature from other projects that JR East has been undertaking recently, namely the development of “ekinaka” (“in-station”) shopping areas.

“This project is not about keeping customers inside a station,” Ichikawa said. “The firm can draw up a scenario to develop a whole (new) town by building a station there.”

What role is the area is expected to play?

The Shinagawa-Tamachi area is increasingly “connecting the metropolitan area, the world and domestic cities,” according to JR East.

Ichikawa agrees, saying the area, particularly Shinagawa, has an advantage over other parts of Tokyo because of the access it offers to other large cities here and abroad.

“Shinagawa has good accessibility to Haneda airport,” which is increasing the number of international flights, Ichikawa said.

The Keikyu Line’s Airport Limited Express from Shinagawa Station only takes 12 minutes to reach Haneda’s international terminal and 15 to reach the domestic one.

“Furthermore, a maglev train service will begin in 2027 with the originating station slated to be in Shinagawa,” Ichikawa said, referring to a high-tech magnetically levitated train that is expected to shorten the trip from Tokyo to Nagoya to just 40 minutes from roughly two hours.

The new maglev terminal will probably be close to the new station, offering passengers an easy way to make transfers, Ichikawa added.

He also pointed out that the area, due to its proximity to airports and other train lines, has the potential to attract foreign companies. He envisions it hosting the Asian headquarters of multinational corporations and research institutions.

“How to extend the potential and to utilize the advantage will be the task facing the area,” Ichikawa said.

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