National

Railway operators in final phase of preparing for Tokyo Games

JIJI

Railway operators in the Tokyo area are in the final stages of preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, is scheduled to open a new station on its Yamanote Line for the first time in 49 years in March. Takanawa Gateway Station, located close to a public viewing event site for the Olympics, is expected to be used by many passengers during the quadrennial sports event.

JR East touts Takanawa Gateway as a “future station” that showcases cutting-edge Japanese technologies such as an autonomous security robot and a convenience store without shop assistants.

By the end of this month, all train cars for the Yamanote Line will have space available for wheelchair users.

After the planned completion of repair work in March, a new platform is set to become available at JR East’s Sendagaya Station, located near the new National Stadium, the main venue for the Olympics and Paralympics.

Subway operator Tokyo Metro Co.’s new Toranomon Hills Station on its Hibiya Line is expected to serve as a key transportation hub after its opening, set for June.

The new Tokyo Metro station will be a hub for a planned bus rapid transit system to connect the Toranomon district with competition venues in Tokyo’s waterfront area.

Multilingual services are increasingly becoming available in existing stations and train cars.

Tokyo Metro and other railway operators are testing artificial intelligence-based chatbot technology designed to answer questions asked in foreign languages, mainly on how to change trains.

A growing number of railway station staff members have started using translation devices.

Keikyu Corp., which offers train services between Haneda Airport and the heart of Tokyo, is promoting the use of such gadgets.

“Customer services at railway stations are a key for deciding the impression of Japan,” a Keikyu official said.

Nineteen train operators, including JR East and Tokyo Metro, plan to extend night operations on a total of about 60 lines by between 30 minutes and two hours from July 24 through Aug. 9.

The longer service hours, implemented at the request of the games’ organizing committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, are aimed at transporting spectators from competition venues late at night. The last trains on some lines are slated to depart after 2 a.m.

Tokyo Metro plans to increase the total number of train services on its Ginza, Yurakucho and Nanboku lines. Ticket barriers will be added at Tatsumi, Toyosu and other stations, which are close to competition venues.

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