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International Railroad Discussion > Tokyo Station View (2016)

Date: 01/29/23 11:06
Tokyo Station View (2016)
Author: cchan006

"Why is that man looking up in the sky?"
"Maybe he's looking for satellites?"

I overheard this conversation while joyriding the Yamanote Line in 2014. I'm not 100% sure if they were talking about me, but I have an answer for them, per a very tiny chance (same chance as me spotting a satellite in daylight) that they are reading this thread. :-)

I hadn't visited Japan in about 6 years so when I returned in 2014, I turned my joyriding into scouting trips. One thing I was doing while riding the entire Yamanote Line loop was to look up from the window to try to spot elevated angles.

In 2007, Japan Post was privatized. As a result, former Tokyo Central Post Office, located across from Tokyo Station, went through MAJOR renovation where a skyscraper was built on top of the historic Post Office building, completed in 2012. One result of that was the opening the roof of Tokyo's Central Post Office to the public, where people can watch the train action on the south end of Japan's 6th busiest station (1.08 million passengers per day).

Here's a note to the HSR ridership projection pipe dreamers: Japan's busier stations, ranked from #1 to #5, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Yokohama, and Kita-Senju DO NOT HAVE HSR service. It's important to make the non-HSR services convenient first.

I spotted this then-new location on my own while joyriding the Yamanote Loop line in 2014. Same ride when I overheard that conversation. There were people on the roof where I have not seen people before, so I looked for Internet access after the joyride and researched.

I visited the location during my trip in 2015, and took a liking right away. However, I decided to "save it" for later, for a high value target.

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Date: 01/29/23 11:35
Re: Tokyo Station View (2016)
Author: cchan006

I had stayed in Japan for more than 10 days when I visited in May of 2016. That meant I had a chance to catch Doctor Yellow again - they usually run about 10 days apart. I already caught one 10 days earlier, so I took the high probability chance, and visited the Tokyo Station view.

Others had the same idea at the south end of the Shinkansen platforms at Tokyo, shown at the start of the video.

During the 12 minutes Doctor Yellow "stop" at Tokyo Station, I documented other trains from my rooftop view. Yamanote Line and Keihin-Tohoku Line trains run on the nearest 4 tracks from my vantage point. Keihin-Tohoku Line on the outside pair, and the Yamanote Line on the inside pair.

"Ueno-Tokyo Line" trains run on the next pair, but before 2015, those pair were strictly for Tokaido Line trains. I posted a report earlier briefly summarizing the "Ueno-Tokyo Line" mega project that reconnected the double track between Tokyo and Ueno. The project allowed trains that used to terminate at Ueno (north of Tokyo) to run through to Tokyo Station and beyond. Joban Line Limited Express E657 set in the video is an evidence of that.

Another gem is in the video, JNR era Class 185 set that shows up right before the E657 set.

You can also see from this angle that the northbound Tohoku/Joetsu/Hokuriku Shinkansen trains can't run south from Tokyo. Their platforms are the next nearest from my vantage point. The farthest tracks from where I am are the Tokaido Shinkansen tracks.

Before Doctor Yellow showed up, I had a brief conversation with a business traveller, who was there to enjoy the train view. He had visited from Kyushu and was taking a lunch break. What he didn't know was that Doctor Yellow was about to show up, and I told him. He was quite happy to see it.

He didn't bring his camera, because of the no tripod rule at the rooftop, which is frequently enforced by the security guards. I can shoot handheld, which I did, so I was not harassed. Something to keep in mind for people who plan to visit here.

That's it for now.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/23 11:46 by cchan006.

Date: 01/29/23 21:18
Re: Tokyo Station View (2016)
Author: symph1

Thank you for posting. Fascinting. You're facing generally east in this, right?
Why was the decision made to break all Shinkansen runs here? Why not build it so a Shinkansen from Niigata, for instance, could run through to Osaka?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/23 21:33 by symph1.

Date: 01/29/23 23:20
Re: Tokyo Station View (2016)
Author: cchan006

symph1 Wrote:
> Thank you for posting. Fascinting. You're facing
> generally east in this, right?
> Why was the decision made to break all Shinkansen
> runs here? Why not build it so a Shinkansen from
> Niigata, for instance, could run through to Osaka?

I commented on my Green Shinkansen report, that due to non-uniform electrical standards in Japan (50 Hz vs. 60 Hz), there was no plan to connect the Shinkansens. I did more research and here's the more complete story:

Northern Japan, including Tokyo is 50 Hz, while western Japan is 60 Hz. That's the general rule, although handful of local provinces might not follow that rule, especially near the frequency borders in Shizuoka and Nagano Prefectures.

Tokaido Shinkasen between Shizuoka and Tokyo are running 60 Hz in 50 Hz territory, so they have special frequency coversion substations in that territory to convert the 50 Hz from the power company to 60 Hz for the trains.

Tohoku and Joestsu Shinkansens all travel in 50 Hz territory.

There actually was a tentative plan to have through Shinkansen trains at Tokyo which I didn't know about. The hint to this plan is that the western most Tokaido Shinkansen platforms (14 & 15) are curved like the Tohoku/Joetsu/Hokuriku Shinkansen platforms. Rest of the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms (easternmost platforms) are straight.

As mentioned in my Black Yamanote Line report, there was strong opposition to the construction of Shinkansen ROW between Omiya and Ueno. Government-run Japan National Railway (JNR) buckled, and focused on appeasing the NIMBYs. As a result, the non-HSR Saikyo Line was constructed paralleling the Shinkansen ROW between Akabane and Omiya. That delayed the project to connect Omiya/Ueno/Tokyo.

While I haven't found the specific reason, I suspect JNR decided to shelve the "through Shinkansen at Tokyo" idea around that time, to avoid further delays and/or to control costs, especially on dealing with frequency conversions.

Enter the privatization of JNR into JR Groups in 1987, which created another barrier to the idea: JR East vs. JR Central turf war.

The privatization handed the Tohoku/Joetsu Shinkansen lines to JR East, and Tokaido Shinkansen to JR Central (and connecting Sanyo Shinkansen to JR West, no electrical frequency problems with JR Central). Platform serving tracks 14 & 15 at Tokyo became a center of dispute. Since it was funded with Tohoku/Joestsu Shinkansen money, JR East wanted them for their Shinkansen trains. JR Central refused, saying they needed to manage congestion on the Tokaido Shinkansen.

Solution to the dispute? Construction of a new platform to give JR East tracks 20/21/22/23 while JR Central got to keep 14/15 and 16/17/18/19. That explains the out of sequence numbering on Shinkansen tracks in Tokyo of 20/21/22/23/14/15/16/17/18/19, west to east.

The new platform serving 20/21 satisfied JR East, and the "through Shinkansen at Tokyo" idea died for good.

Furthermore, Chuo Line platforms 1/2 had to be elevated to make room for migrating platforms 3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 to the west for Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku, and Tokaido Line trains. That project was completed in 1995, in anticipation of the start of the Nagano (now Hokuriku) Shinkansen service in 1997.

Ironically, Hokuriku Shinkansen Line changes between 50/60 Hz at 3 locations. Advances in power electronics have made construction of multi-frequency-capable train sets economical in recent years, but not in the 1970s and 1980s while the Tohoku/Joetsu Shinkansen Lines were being constructed. Seems various disputes created bad timing for the through Shinkansen idea. Oh well.

Date: 01/30/23 11:17
Re: Tokyo Station View (2016)
Author: symph1

Thank you. This is far more complex than I imagined.

Date: 02/16/23 11:39
Re: Tokyo Station View (2016)
Author: MEKoch

The white high-speed trains have such small windows compared with the slower speed local trains.  Why?

Date: 02/18/23 18:42
Re: Tokyo Station View (2016)
Author: cchan006

MEKoch Wrote:
> The white high-speed trains have such small
> windows compared with the slower speed local
> trains.  Why?

Only the design engineers can give you a definitive answer, but the quick educated guess is seating arrangement.

The commute trains (light green striped Yamanote Line, and blue striped Keihin Tohoku Line) have bench seats, and are designed to accomodate more standing people than the higher speed trains, which have "normal" seating where the seats face the direction of travel. Large windows might reduce the feeling of claustrophobia?

E657 and Class 185s have "smaller" windows also - they have "normal" seats, not designed to accomodate standing people normally.

The commuter train large windows are designed to open, while most of the smaller windows on other trains don't open (Class 185 is the exception), relying on climate control for comfort. One of the effective way to fight the pandemic was to run the air conditioning full blast with the window opened at strategic places to circulate fresh air. (Witnessed it firsthand when I visited in 2021 and 2022) and the railroad explicitly made announcements to explain why, so people who are paranoid about closing the window during A/C operation don't take matters into their own hands. (The strategy worked)

Exceptions are the "Green Cars" (2 sets coupled together) on the Ueno-Tokyo Line long distance commuter trains, which have large windows. They are first class cars with "normal" seats, double-decked. 

For the Green Cars, windows are big like Amtrak Lounge cars to give better view. Gotta pamper the first class passengers who are paying extra money for the Green Cars. 

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/18/23 18:50 by cchan006.

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