Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sotetsu, the Evolving Railway in Kanagawa Prefecture

My favorite EMU Sotetsu 9000 (new color) arrives at Nishiya Station 

There are eight major private railway companies in the Tokyo metropolitan area. They are, from east to west, Keisei, Tobu, Seibu, Keio, Odakyu, Tokyu, Keikyu... and one more, Sagami Railway.

Starting from Yokohama, the main city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Sagami Railway, called Sotetsu, connects Ebina and Shonandai. Sotetsu is the only one major private railway company, which doesn't run into downtown Tokyo.

As I mentioned several times, railway business in the Tokyo metropolitan area is very competitive. Many companies are fighting for survival. In the current stagnant economic condition, they have to think deeply about what particular investment would be the most effective.

For Sotetsu, the original idea was to extend their track to the west. The new route in the western part of Kanagawa Prefecture was aimed at promoting development of nearby areas, where railway services have been absent. But, Sotetsu's decision was more than I ever envisioned. They decided to construct connecting lines from Nishiya Station to existing JR East and Tokyu lines. The purpose is to operate direct access trains to downtown Tokyo and enhance convenience for passengers.

But, there is some concern that Sotetsu will lose passengers, who have been getting off at Yokohama Station. Yokohama is the most important terminal for Sotetsu. They have large shopping malls and leasing buildings near the station. If most of the current passengers go directly to downtown Tokyo, critics raise concerns that Yokohama may lose ground as Sotetsu's profit center.

The connecting lines will be opened in 2015.

My favorite EMU Sotetsu 9000 series (old color) arrives at Ebina Terminal

More information about Sagami Railway (Sotetsu):