Two new Tokyo subway lines being planned

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has proposed building two new subway lines from central Tokyo, one to Shinagawa and the other to the waterfront districts of Harumi, Toyosu and Ariake.

The plan — affecting two areas that are already earmarked for major development projects — is part of a blueprint for Tokyo’s future traffic network, which the metropolitan government will submit to the transport ministry’s policy council later this month.

If the central government gives its approval, the plan will be included in the ministry’s policy for railway construction to be compiled by next March.

The projects must be listed in the ministry’s policy if the central government and the metropolitan government are going to provide subsidies, said Kosuke Ikeuchi, a section chief at the metropolitan government’s urban development bureau.

So far nothing has been formally decided, Ikeuchi said, including where to build the new lines, when services will start and budget details. He indicated that they won’t be built until after the 2020 Olympics.

The blueprint includes other railway construction plans, such as an extension of the Toei Oedo Line from Hikarigaoka Station to Oizumigakuen-cho in Nerima Ward, and East Japan Railway Co. building a new line between Haneda airport and central Tokyo.

Last Friday, Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said the plan linking central Tokyo and the waterfront area reflects increasing traffic demand and population growth.

“Major developments have been going on in Toyosu, Ariake and Harumi. The population has risen sharply,” he said at a news conference.

To cope with increasing demand for transportation, a new bus system will be introduced by the end of March 2020, but Masuzoe said that won’t be enough in terms of convenience and carrying capacity.

Buses end their daily operations early compared with trains, and road congestion could make it difficult for the buses to arrive on time, which make subways an ideal means of transportation, he said.

The area’s population has increased over the years following construction of a number of high-rise housing complexes. The population of Koto Ward, where Toyosu and Ariake are located, topped 500,000 last month, up 100,000 from August 2002. The population of Chuo Ward, which includes the Harumi district, has increased since 1997 and came to around 140,000 as of July 2.

Also, the Olympic Village to be built in east Harumi to accommodate athletes for the 2020 Summer Games, will be converted into residential space after Olympics, which will lead to a population increase of about 12,000.

As for the planned subway connecting central Tokyo and Shinagawa, Masuzoe said access isn’t very convenient to the Shinagawa area, which is slated to undergo major development, including a terminal for the maglev line to Nagoya and a new Yamanote Line station between Tamachi and Shinagawa stations.

“People can go to Shinagawa, for example, via the Yamanote Line, but what about other means? It’s quite inconvenient to go there via subway,” he told reporters.

Ikeuchi of the metropolitan government said one possibility is to extend the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line to Shinagawa from nearby Shirokane-Takanawa Station.