Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 24 (pp.56–57)

December 1999 – February 2000

2 DecemberAustralian commuter train bound for Sydney from Lithgow ran into Indian Pacific long-distance train near Sydney, killing 12 people
3 DecemberGroundbreaking ceremony held for construction of parallel runway (2180 m) at Narita Airport near Tokyo with plans to start use in May 2002 in time for World Cup soccer tournament
4 DecemberYamagata Shinkansen service extended 61.5 km to Shinjo, providing fastest direct link with Tokyo in 3 hours 5 minutes
5 DecemberBangkok Mass Transit System started service with three-car trains every 2 to 3 minutes on 23.5 km of elevated track
6 DecemberTest car of Chiba Urban Monorail ran out of control in inspection shed at Inage, Chiba Prefecture in Japan, killing one worker and injuring another
7 DecemberLight passenger plane of Philippine domestic airline crashed on Luzon Island, killing all 17 passengers and crew
8 DecemberAirbus Industrie consortium announced investigation into funding for development of super-large Airbus A3XX, accommodating 550 to 800 passengers with aim of entering service from 2005
11 DecemberPassenger plane of Portuguese Sata Airline crashed on Sao Jorge Island in Azores, killing all 35 passengers and crew
15 DecemberJR East announced gift of 21 carriages to Philippine National Railways with JR staff to offer technical advice on inspection and maintenance
JR East started 1-month operation of special ‘Eco Train’ on Keihin Tohoku Line (Omiya–Ofuna) in Tokyo Metropolitan Area, exhibiting posters and compositions with ‘Save the Earth’ theme by elementary and junior high school students
16 DecemberNew Korea High Speed Rail KTX (Korea Train Express) to connect Seoul and Pusan (approximately 410 km) in less than 2 hours started test runs. First phase of project aims to complete construction of Seoul–Taegu high-speed line as well as electrification of existing Taegu–Pusan line by April 2004
19 DecemberFour-car train collided with 10-tonne truck on crossing of JR East Uetsu Line in Niigata Prefecture injuring train driver and five passengers
20 DecemberJR Central Towers opened at Nagoya Station. Constructed at cost of ¥233.5 billion and consists of 51-storey office building (including head office of JR Central) and 53-storey hotel with total area of 410,000 m², making it largest single building in Japan
21 DecemberCuba Airlines DC10 passenger plane from Havana with 18 crew and 296 passengers overran runway and crashed into nearby residential area of Guatemala City Airport killing 26 and injuring at least 50
22 DecemberKorean Air Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed shortly after taking off from Stansted Airport near London
23 DecemberFerry MV Asia South Korea (2840 tonnes) with 660 passengers and crew sank off Cebu Island in central Philippines, drowning 9 with 591 survivors
24 DecemberIndian Airlines A300 Airbus hijacked with 189 passengers and crew. Passengers released on 31 December in exchange for three Muslim extremists imprisoned in India
25 DecemberCuba Airlines YAK42 passenger plane bound from Havana to Valencia, Venezuela, crashed approximately 160 km west of Caracas, killing all 22 passengers and crew
28 DecemberTaiwan High Speed Rail Corporation planning 340-km high-speed transit system connecting Taipei and Gaoxiong announced intention to use Japanese shinkansen technologies for cars and electrical systems, marking first export of shinkansen
2 JanuaryJapanese National Police Agency announced 1999 road death toll of 9005, down 206 from 1998 and lowest number since 1982
4 JanuaryOlso-bound express and local train crashed and overturned in southern Norway killing at least 7 people with 26 missing
5 JanuaryEurotunnel managing Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France announced submission of report to both governments into excavation of second undersea tunnel with 9-year excavation to start in 2025 at earliest
6 JanuaryBomb exploded on express train standing at Old New Delhi Station, India, injuring at least 12 people
10 JanuaryTama City Monorail (16.0 km) traversing five cities in Tama area of Tokyo fully opened with commencement of services on last section between Tachikawa Kita and Tama Centre (10.6 km)
Crossair SAAB 340 passenger plane crashed near Kloten International Airport in Switzerland killing 10 people
12 JanuaryLong-distance bus crashed in southern Brazil killing 42 people and injuring 44
19 JanuaryNagoya Subway Line No. 4 extension opened between Osone and Sunadabashi (1.4 km)
Keio Teito Electric Railway started installing ‘eco-chair’ manufactured by recycling used plastic passes and plastic food trays
27 JanuaryCouncil for Transport Policy of Ministry of Transport concluded new rail expansion master plan for Tokyo Metropolitan Area as guideline for planning railway construction in Tokyo Metropolitan Area until 2015. Council designated 18 new lines (233 km) including new underground line between Tokyo and Mitaka, extension of JR Keiyo Line, and third-sector new-town commuter Hokuso- Kaihatsu Railway Line for joint operation by Toei (Tokyo Metropolitan Government subway), Keisei Electric Railway, and Keihin Electric Express Railway.
28 JanuaryJapan National Tourist Organization announced new record of 4,439,000 foreigners visiting Japan in 1999 (8.1% increase over previous year)
30 JanuaryKenya Airways' A310 airbus with 179 passengers and crew crashed into Atlantic after taking off from Abidjan International Airport in Ivory Coast. Seven passengers rescued and six found dead with remaining passengers missing
31 JanuaryAlaska Airlines' MD80 passenger plane with 70 passengers and crew bound for San Francisco from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, crashed into Pacific Ocean approximately 140 km from Los Angeles International Airport with no survivors
1 FebruaryRevised Civil Aeronautics Law came into force with complete liberalization of Japanese domestic air fares and abolition of demand and supply restrictions previously limiting entry and withdrawal from air routes
6 FebruaryInternational express train of 10 cars from Amsterdam bound for Basle, derailed in suburbs of Cologne in western Germany, killing at least 9 of some 300 passengers
10 FebruaryAll 178 passengers and crew of Boeing 727 passenger plane of Afghanistan airline hijacked after taking off from Kabul released at Stansted Airport in London when 22 hijackers surrendered
Bomb exploded in express train in Jam Kashmir, northern India, killing 5 people and injuring at least 7
16 FebruaryFirst female shinkansen driver debuted on Tokaido Shinkansen
JR Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) exhibited guidance system for visually handicapped people that transfers information from IC chips buried in textured paving blocks on station platforms to walking sticks where processed into sound. RTRI aims to put system to practical use as soon as possible to promote barrier-free stations
22 FebruaryFirst Iranian subway service started in Tehran between Immam Khomeini Station in city centre via 9 stations to new Tehran station in west of city
28 FebruaryMD87 passenger plane of Japan Air System (JAS) carrying 99 passengers and crew from Kita Kyushu accidentally landed at new runway B (2500 m) under construction at Haneda Airport in Tokyo but no injuries or damage reported
29 FebruaryOperation of old-fashioned Ginza Excursion Bus closed after Tokyo's Chuo Ward local government decided to withdraw bus due to declining passenger numbers
The Boeing Company and General Electric Company announced joint development of new B777-200X passenger plane capable of flying 10,100 miles (16,250 km) or distance between New York and Kuala Lumpur and exceeding 9765-mile range of Airbus A340-500

Photo: President Matsuda of JR East (3rd from right) and Governor Takahashi of Yamagata Prefecture (2nd from right) cutting the tape for the first Tsubasa service leaving Shinjo Station on 4 December 1999 (JR East)


Isamu Tanaka
Former Vice President of Tokyu Corporation and former President of Toa Domestic Airlines died of heart failure at age 95 on 12 February. He joined Meguro- Kamata Railway (now Tokyu Corporation) after graduating in 1926 from Tokyo Institute of Technology. He became President of Toa Domestic Airlines (now JAS) in 1973, and endeavoured to reconstruct its management. He also served simultaneously as a board member for Izukyu Corporation, Tokyu Land Corporation, Tokyu Department Store Co., Ltd., Tokyu Construction Co., Ltd., etc.

New Website for Railway Poetry Lovers
Railroad Earth, a quarterly booklet of poetry written by and for international rail workers, has been started in the UK by ex-railwayman and magazine editor Alan Mumford. For details, visit the web page at http://communities.msn.co.uk/RailroadEarth.