JR Hokuriku Line Trains Undergoing Antivirus Treatment

JR Hokuriku Line Trains Undergoing Antivirus Treatment

JR-West Kanazawa Branch, COVID-19 Countermeasure

On June 17th, the Kanazawa branch of the West Japan Railway Company (JR-West) addressed to news media that trains operating within the Hokuriku area (excluding Shinkansen trains) are undergoing antiviral and antibacterial treatment at the Kanazawa Consolidated Railyard (in Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture), as part of the infection countermeasures against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and the like.

Of the 431 trains under the branch’s jurisdiction, 222 limited-express trains are expected to complete the treatment process by the end of July; up to now, approximately 25% of the trains have completed the process. After the limited-express trains, the regular trains will undergo the same treatment.

On this day, JR-West employees were performing antiviral and antibacterial operations, including spraying disinfectant on handles, tables, and seats. Parts that are more frequently touched and handled by passengers are sprayed over twice. The antiviral and antibacterial effects will last for 3 to 5 years, and also has deodorizing and mould-preventing properties.

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1106728

Retraction of Reduced Service Schedule for Hokuriku and Tohoku Shinkansen Lines, and Limited Express Trains on Chuo and Joban Lines

Retraction of Reduced Service Schedule for Hokuriku and Tohoku Shinkansen Lines, and Limited Express Trains on Chuo and Joban Lines

JR-EAST May 22nd Announcement, Trains to Operate on Regular Schedule

On May 22nd, the East Japan Railway Company (JR-EAST) announced that it has withdrawn the temporarily reduced service schedule, which was to be followed from the 28th, for every Shinkansen line, including the Tohoku and Hokuriku lines, and for the Limited Express trains on the Chuo and Joban lines; trains are to operate on a regular schedule from hereon.

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1090721

Fukui Railway Carries Out Large-Scale Disinfection on Trains and Stations

Fukui Railway Carries Out Large-Scale Disinfection on Trains and Stations

Novel Coronavirus Countermeasure, Thorough Action

During the early dawn of March 20th, in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Fukui Railway carried out a large-scale disinfection on all its 20 trains, excluding those currently under inspection, and the station premises. Upon the confirmation of Fukui Prefecture’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, Fukui Railway employees thoroughly sanitized various parts of the trains, including the floors of the passageway and hand straps.

As a countermeasure against COVID-19, Fukui Railways has been scrubbing down its operating trains since the beginning of March; but with the predicted increase in passengers, with the eventual reopening of schools as one of the factors, the disinfection of train interiors and station premises altogether has been directed as a full-scale measure.

During the night, approximately 20 railway employees were working hard on the trains stationed in Echizen City’s Echizen-Takefu Station and Fukui City’s Tawaramachi Station.

At Echizen-Takefu Station, disinfection began from midnight, after the train service had ended for the day. While wearing protective gear, such as goggles and rubber gloves, employees used towels, soaked with disinfectant, to wipe down the train interiors, including the fare boxes, hand straps, handrails, windows, and the automated ticket machines on the station premises. The passageway floors were sprayed with disinfectant.

Things within the station premises, including the pillars and glass panes in the waiting rooms, were also disinfected.

“Through our commitment to high grade prevention measures, we hope to create a safe and secure environment for passengers,” says Sachio Sawazaki, company director of Fukui Railway.

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1051661

Hokuriku Shinkansen, A Sense of Impending Crisis for Unserviced Stations

Hokuriku Shinkansen, A Sense of Impending Crisis for Unserviced Stations

5 Years Since Opening, Effects Tending to Concentrate on Major Cities

Since the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Kanazawa extension, expansions of foreign hotels and constructions of condominiums have spread into areas around Kanazawa Station and Toyama Station; while these effects continue, there are also areas far from the stations, which are unable to keep up with the flow. Uozu Station (in Toyama Prefecture, Uozu City), is on a conventional train line and was the starting station of a Limited Express line; the station has experienced more than a 10% decrease in users, with the surrounding land values continuously dropping. In Toyama Prefecture, with the effects tending to concentrate on Toyama City, the issue is spreading its influence out to a wider area. After the Tsuruga extension opens, stations within Fukui Prefecture, similar to Uozu, like Sabae Station, holds the possibility to lose its Limited Express train service; those concerned have been gaining an increasing sense of crisis.

During the late afternoons in March, there would be a few commuters at Uozu Station. A manager (aged 66) of a liquor store located south-west of the station lamented, “In the past, cars would fill the parking lots of the shopping district, but now it’s bare. It’s difficult to see how things will go from here.”

Located in the east part of Toyama Prefecture, Uozu City has a population of approximately 42 thousand people. Before, the city had connections towards Niigata, which served as a bridge to the Tokyo City area with the “Hakutaka” Limited Express line, and was connected to the Kansai region with a stop for the “Thunderbird” Limited Express line; being rich with marine products, many fans visited from within and outside the prefecture.

However, after the Kanazawa extension opened, the demand for transfers had disappeared, and riders would travel past Uozu on the Shinkansen from Tokyo. According to Japan Rail, during a recent three-year period (2016 – 2018), the average daily ridership was 4,122 passengers, a roughly 15% drop from before the extension opened (comparing to 2012-2014’s numbers).

“I think it’s the number of business people and tourists that went down. We can only work hard and value our regular customers, and not lay the blame on the Shinkansen,” said a manager (aged 51) of a lacquerware shop in the shopping district.

“Tateyama Kurobe Alphine Route” is a significant tourist attraction in Toyama Prefecture. According to the operating company, during the first year of the Kanazawa extension, the number of visitors rose by 10% to 997 thousand people, but the numbers have been sluggish since then. The 2019 fiscal year experienced a large drop, going below 900 thousand visitors, for the first time in seven years.

Nonetheless, there are different ways to look at the situation, like at the passing effects of the typhoon in 2019. As the number of tourists visiting Japan continue to increase, promising signs also emerge.

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1043394

End of the Highway Bus Between Obama and Osaka in May

End of the Highway Bus Between Obama and Osaka in May

“Wakasa Liner”, Joint Operation by Fukui Railway and Kintetsu Railway

On March 2nd, Fukui Railway (headquartered in Fukui Prefecture’s Echizen City) announced that the “Wakasa Liner”, a highway bus service connecting Fukui Prefecture’s Obama City and Osaka, will have its final operating day on May 10th, ending the service from the 11th and onwards.

Service began on the route in September 2003 with six round-trip buses in a day, coinciding with the Wakasa-ji Exhibition, which took place in the Kawasaki district of Obama City. From then the number of round-trip buses went down to four from November 2013, and then to two from April 2016, and maintained in cooperation with the Kintetsu Bus Company.

During the past ten years, one bus would carry 10 to 14 passengers. The decision to end the service was based upon a multitude of factors including not reaching the profitable minimum of 17-18 passengers per trip, the low probability of the increase in passengers, the lack of drivers, and the increasing wear of the vehicles. On May 10th, the final bus from Michi-no-Eki Wakasa Obama will depart at 5:57 p.m., and the final bus from Osaka-Namba will depart from 6:10 p.m.

“We considered the continuation of the service, while keeping the 2023 spring opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Tsugura in mind, as extending the service up to Tsuruga; however, with no hope for profit, we had to abandon such plans,” expressed Fukui Railway in a statement.

“It’s very unfortunate. For when the Hokuriku Shinkansen Tsuruga opens in 2023, we hope to work on reconsidering the transportation services for tourists to use from Tsuruga to Obama, and up to Maizuru,” said Satoshi Kakuno, Chief of the Obama City Hokuriku Shinkansen-Integrated Transportation Promotion Department.

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1040501