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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fukutoshin subway line debuts

New 8.9-km route offers second link to Shibuya, Ikebukuro stations via Shinjuku


Staff writer

Part of a new subway line that will snake down through Tokyo to link Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures will open Saturday, giving the public a new convenient way to access the crowded Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts.

News photo
Groundbreaking: A new part of Shibuya Station for the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line was designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando and has been dubbed an "underground spaceship." TOKYU CO.

Tokyo Metro Co.'s Fukutoshin Line, linking Ikebukuro and Shibuya stations with an 8.9 km section opening this weekend, is named after Tokyo's "secondary city centers" outside the center of the metropolis. The new line, which will stretch to Wakoshi Station in Saitama Prefecture, is expected to ease congestion.

"Before, most of Tokyo's subways were concentrated toward the center of Tokyo, such as Otemachi and Tokyo, Chuo Ward, Minato Ward and Chiyoda Ward," Tokyo Metro Co. spokesman Tatsuya Edakubo said. "This new line goes through the Fukutoshin districts, including Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro."

The Fukutoshin Line is the 13th Tokyo-area subway line. Construction of the Shibuya-Ikebukuro section, which began in 2001, cost ¥250 billion.

Express trains will go between Shibuya and Ikebukuro in 11 minutes, while local trains will make the journey in about 16 minutes.

The entire Fukutoshin Line runs 20.2 km between Shibuya and Wakoshi in Saitama Prefecture. The section between Ikebukuro and Wakoshi is already operating as part of the Yurakucho subway line.

Starting in 2012, the Fukutoshin Line will be directly connected to Tokyu's Toyoko Line, which runs between Shibuya and Yokohama.

The line will thus not only expand metro underground transportation but also make it easier to connect Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures.

Tokyo Metro expects the Fukutoshin Line to reduce commuter traffic during rush hours, especially on the lines that parallel it, including East Japan Railway Co.'s Yamanote and Saikyo lines.

Tokyo Metro's Web site indicates 17 trains will run hourly, or about one every 3 1/2 minutes, during the morning rush hour.

In addition, Fukutoshin Line stations offer more open spaces for comfort, Tokyo Metro's Edakubo said.

"The image people generally have of subway stations is they're narrow or constricted," he said.

For instance, Edakubo said, Shinjuku-sanchome Station has a vaulted ceiling to create a sense of openness.

Shibuya Station has also been creating a buzz when it comes to design. The station is actually operated by Tokyu Co. and called Tokyu Toyoko Line-Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line Shibuya Station.

Part of the new Shibuya Station is designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando with an oval-shaped "underground spaceship" that lies beneath the site of the now-razed Tokyu Bunkakaikan building.

The oval space stretches 80 meters and is about 24 meters wide. The middle is an open oval space between the third to fifth underground levels.

The station is part of Tokyu's development plan for the surrounding area.

"The Shibuya district is our home ground . . . the station is the first one to open in our development of the area for the next several years, so we have high expectations," said Nagomi Onda, who works in Tokyu's PR department.

The carrier also plans to build a multipurpose complex that will open in 2012 on the Bunkakaikan site. It will include a Tokyu department store, office space, an exhibition hall and a theater.

In addition, the company plans to move underground the section of the Toyoko Line between Shibuya and Daikanyama. The current Toyoko Line's Shibuya Station will be developed for other purposes.

As for the spaceship, it's not just the design that is eye-catching, but also its eco-friendly characteristics.

Shibuya is the world's first large underground station to have natural ventilation, according to Tokyu Co.

The sides of the oval walls are vaulted and let air flow in and out from the outside. The station thus does not have to depend on fans for circulation.

The station also features cooling tubes containing water that run along the ceiling and under the floor.

With the combination of natural ventilation and cooling water tubes, the station will save about 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, Tokyu Co. said.

"It's a 21st-century station, so we want it to be environmentally friendly," Onda said.

Edakubo of Tokyo Metro Co. said about 150,000 customers will use the new line between Ikebukuro and Shibuya daily. The number is expected to jump to 300,000 in 2012 once the direct connection with the Toyoko Line is completed through Shibuya Station.



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