Sunday, May 12, 2013

Express Train on the Haneda Airport Line


"Haneda Express" (left) overtakes a local train (right) at Showajima Station 

As I mentioned previously, the railway business in Tokyo is very competitive right now. Many companies are fighting for survival. Even Tokyo Monorail Company, which has a money-making airport access line, is no exception.

The Haneda Line of Tokyo Monorail Company is the oldest monorail, which adopts a straddle-beam system, in Tokyo. This line, connecting Hamamatsucho and Haneda Airport, was opened in 1964 as an airport access route from downtown Tokyo to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda). There are 11 stations over a total operating length of 17.8km. Since the opening, this company had been continuing stable management; however, the Haneda Line reached a turning point in 1988. Keikyu, which is one of the major private railway companies, opened another airport access route from Shinagawa, a subcenter of Tokyo. As a result, Tokyo Monorail Company faced fierce competition from Keikyu.

The counterplot against Keikyu was the speeding up of the trains. They launched express trains. Nowadays, the "Haneda Express" train connects Hamamatsucho and Haneda Airport International Terminal without stopping in only 13 minutes. As a passenger, I welcome this kind of competition, as far as safety is assured.

Look at the top photo. You can see that the express train (left) overtakes the local train (right) at Showajima Station. Then, the local train leaves and goes back to the main track (see the following picture). It is a very rare scene of the monorail line in Japan. It seems that railway competition in Tokyo is set to continue.

A local train (EMU 1000 series) leaves Showajima Station and goes back to the main track.