Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Rival Railway Story, JR East vs. Tokyu

EMU Tokyu 5050 series leaves Jiyugaoka Station on the Toyoko Line

Tokyu is a major private railway company in the Tokyo metropolitan area. They have a labyrinthine railway network in the southwestern part of Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture. It had been looking to be in an impregnable position as the leading railway company in Tokyo; however, Tokyu couldn't rest on their laurels forever. The situation quickly changed in 2001.

On December 1st, 2001, another giant, JR East commenced operation of the Shonan-Shinjuku Line train between the western part of Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture. The Shonan-Shinjuku Line is not a newly constructed line. It is just a composite route of several existing commuting and freight lines. But, the idea was very creative. Consequently, passengers became able to go to Yokohama, a major city of Kanagawa Prefecture, from Shibuya, a subcenter of Tokyo, in 24 minutes.

Tokyu was greatly shocked by this newly operating train of JR East. They took countermeasures immediately by speeding up trains on the Toyoko Line. The fastest train, "Limited Express" now connects Shibuya and Yokohama in 25 minutes. It costs 260 yen, which is 120 yen cheaper than that of JR East.

Furthermore, Tokyu plans a direct operation with the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line through Shibuya Station. Once it is completed, people, who live in the northwestern part of Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, will be able to go to Yokohama directly from their nearest station.

The competition is going to continue from this point. As a customer, I welcome this kind of competition, as long as safety is assured.

EMU JR East E231 series arrives at Ikebukuro Station on the Shonan-Shinjuku Line