“SkyTrain technology” (linear motor propulsion, with automated operation) has been declared for a major investment in rail rapid transit in the outer boroughs of the city of Tokyo, Japan. With over 38 million people residing in the Greater Tokyo area, it is the world’s largest metropolitan area.
The proposed lines – initially two separate projects codenamed “Metro Seven” and “Eight Liner” – will be merged into a single project that is 59.7km long, with 42 stations.
An additional 13.7km extension to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (bringing the total project length to a whooping 73.4km) is under consideration. It has not been finalized as part of this proposal and is pending further study, likely given that numerous Haneda-oriented rail projects are currently being considered by other operators.
I was given a link to a study on the Itabashi ward website, which concluded that the use of SkyTrain technology would significantly save costs and improve the project business case, due to significant reductions in tunneling and land acquisition costs.
LINK: 平成25年 – 度区部周辺部環状公共交通に係る調査 – 概報告
English: 2013 Fiscal –Outer Ward Circumferential Public Transit Study – Summary Report
Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation (Toei) has proposed to build and operate the subway line with public funds, a rarity in a country where most railways are built and operated by private companies.
Linear Motors Save Costs
The new metro line in Tokyo will use a new specification called “Smart Linear Metro“, which is identical to the 69km SkyTrain technology railway line proposed in Okinawa. Short, 12m long cars – similar to Vancouver’s Mark I SkyTrain vehicles – will enable a further reduction in tunnelling height, curve radius and land costs compared to 16m long “standard linear metro” cars already in use in Fukuoka, Yokohama, Kobe and other cities, which themselves allow for smaller tunnels than standard 20m rotary propulsion metro cars. To enable the high carrying capacity required for a Tokyo metro line, multiple-car, articluated units will be used.
Through the reduction in tunnelling and land acquisition costs – made possible by the key advantages of linear motor propulsion in lower floor heights and tighter curve radii – the use of SkyTrain technology is estimated to save taxpayers the equivalent of $300 million Canadian dollars.
Slides from the case study (clic/tap to enlarge):
Trains will initially operate approx. every 3 minutes during peak times on the higher-demand western segment, while a 5 minute frequency will be used on the eastern segment.
Popular in Japan
Japan is one of the world countries that has recognized the benefits of SkyTrain technology and pushes a widespread application of SkyTrain technology in every new railway project. There are now 9 lines in 6 cities running, under construction or under consideration. The new circumferential line will be the 9th such line in Japan, and the 20th such line in the world.
Toei has previously demonstrated SkyTrain technology successfully on the Toei Oedo Line, a major Tokyo subway line with a ridership of over 850,000 passengers daily. The Oedo Line has operated successfully for over 23 years. It’s no surprise that with this record, Toei would want to build another such line.