Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 41 (pp.50–55)

June 2004 – February 2005

1 JuneJR East started centralized lost-property system for entire Tokyo metropolitan area
2 JuneUpper house of Japanese Diet approved plan to privatize four public road corporations, including Japan Highway Public Corporation, by end of FY2005
Overturned tractor-trailer dumped lumber on tracks of JR West's Kisei main line, causing four-car express train to derail and injuring six passengers and two crew
7JuneInternational Air Transport Association (IATA) announced plan for 100% usage of electronic tickets by 2007 to streamline airline business
8 JuneTwin-prop Gabon Express Airlines plane with 30 passengers and crew crashed off Gabon coast, killing at least 16 people
12 JuneJR West ferry hit submerged rocks in Seto Inland Sea near Miyajima, slightly injuring six passengers
15 JuneJapanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) published FY2003 Tourism White Paper showing total of 5.34 million foreign tourists to Japan in FY2003 (+0.5% on FY2002) and largest number ever
16 JuneRailcar and 11-car passenger train collided on bridge 160 km south of Mumbai, western India, derailing train and killing at least 20 people
19 June98 passengers stranded for 1 hour when cableway on Mt Asahidake (2290 m) in Hokkaido stopped
20 JuneSmall aircraft crashed in Java, Indonesia, killing all five passengers and crew
21 JuneTyphoon blew metal roof off building onto catenary of Tokaido Shinkansen, disrupting 94 shinkansen services between Tokyo and Shin Osaka
22 JunePleasure boat capsized by strong winds in dam reservoir in lower Yellow River in China, killing one passenger and leaving 42 missing
24 JuneJR East announced plans to build special carriage for Japanese royal family and five high-grade carriages for foreign VIPs as part of Omeshi train
28 JuneSingapore Airlines started direct flight between Singapore and New York as world's longest non-stop direct flight (16,600 km) using latest Airbus A340-500
30 JuneHeavy rain in Shizuoka Prefecture caused cancellation of 54 trains on Tokaido Shinkansen
3 JulyThailand's first 20-km subway opened in Bangkok between Hua Lamphong (central station of national railway) and Bang Sue in city outskirts for total construction cost of $2.716 billion (¥285.18 billion) with 80% financing through Japanese government yen loan
9 JulyNewly incorporated Skymark Airlines announced plans to merge with Internet Service Provider Zero on 1 November to reinforce bottom line by selling Internet business, and repaying debts of about ¥3.2 billion
15 JulySurutto Kansai Committee of three private Kansai railway companies (Keihan, Hankyu, and Nose Electric Railway), announced start of PiTaPa smart-card ticket-gate service from 1 August
18 JulySwollen rivers fed by torrential rain in Fukui Prefecture washed away five steel bridges on JR West's 52.5-km Etsumi-hoku Line between Fukui and Kuzuryuko as well as track bed scour at 19 locations, leaving line out of service between Fukui and Echizen Ono
19 JulyFive-car tram service started in Athens, Greece, in preparation for summer Olympics, travelling some 26 km in about 8 minutes from city centre to sports complex south of city
21 JulyLarge-scale power outage on subway Line 1 in Guangzhou, China, had wide-reaching impact on passengers, including ticket refunds to 3900 people
22 JulyHigh-speed train carrying about 240 passengers derailed and overturned outside Pamukova in western Turkey, killing 36 people and injuring 60
23 JulyJapanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced plans to expand number of locations issuing visas to Chinese tour groups visiting Japan to three cities and five provinces, starting 15 September
25 JulyLightning strike disabled cable car on Mt Komagatake (2956 m) in Japanese Central Alps, stranding about 1050 tourists at Senjo-jiki Station (2615 m) until following morning
26 JulyAir China B737 with 116 passengers and crew bound for Changsha from Beijing hijacked by Chinese man before making emergency landing at Zhengzhou Airport where hijacker arrested
30 JulyHongkong Tramways' famed double-decker streetcar marked 100th anniversary of service start with 163 trams currently in service on 30 km of tracks in northern area of Hong Kong Island
1 AugustSL Yamaguchi hauled by C57-1 steam locomotive marked 25th anniversary of return to service on 62.9-km run between Shin Yamaguchi (Ogori) and Tsuwano on JR West's Yamaguchi Line and carrying some 1.5 million passengers during that time
3 AugustSmall twin-prop airplane crashed into house on outskirts of Austin, Texas, killing all six people onboard
5 AugustJapan Airlines (JAL) announced start of service from next year first at New Tokyo International Airport (Narita), allowing passengers to board by swiping credit card with embedded IC chip at gate
11 AugustHead-on train collision in Kocaeli, Turkey, killing six people and injuring 100
24 AugustSuicide bombers blew up two passenger planes departing from Moscow almost simultaneously, killing all 89 passengers and crew
29 AugustChinese Ministry of Railways placed order for 200 train carriages from three companies, including Chinese carriage manufacturer partnered with six Japanese companies, French company, and Canadian company, as part of plan to increase train speeds on five lines
31 AugustTyphoon Chaba hit Japanese archipelago causing 1314 flight cancellations over 3-day period, affecting about 100,000 people
7 SeptemberThai government approved plan to build seven new elevated railway lines (Skytrain) around Bangkok, increasing current 44 km of tracks to total of 291 km
MLIT revised takeoff and landing slots for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), taking total of 20 (round-trip) flights from JAL and All Nippon Airways (ANA) and allocating them to new airline to promote competition in air industry
10 SeptemberJoint venture by five companies, including JR East, started redevelopment of Yaesu side of Tokyo Station, building ultra-high twin 200-m towers at north and south ends of station
12 SeptemberUS Airways, America's seventh-largest airline, applied for Chapter 11 corporate reorganization at Virginia federal bankruptcy court after suffering poor performance due to economic factors, such as skyrocketing fuel costs
14 SeptemberCombined commercial facility opened on site of old Japanese National Railways (JNR) Headquarters at north exit on Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station
20 SeptemberTotal passengers using Narita Airport since May 1978 opening passed 500 million
22 SeptemberJapan Airport Terminal Co., Ltd., operator of Haneda Airport terminal building, decided to charge ¥100 facility fee to passengers on domestic flights starting April 2005 to cover construction costs of second terminal building opening in December
27 SeptemberPassenger boat capsized near Nanchong, China, drowning 20 people and leaving six missing
30 SeptemberAmerican government included short-term tourists in mandatory photo ID and fingerprinting system for long-term visitors to USA
1 OctoberTokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo–Shin Osaka, 552.6 km) marked 40th anniversary of start of world's first high-speed railway service in 1964, carrying over 410 million passengers and travelling over 15 million km in that time
2 OctoberChongqing Light Rail started test operation of China's first straddle-beam monorail (19.15 km) in Chongqing, China, with revenue operation starting as tourist line expected from June 2005
3 OctoberSmuggling ship sunk in Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Tunisia, killing at least 17 people and leaving 47 missing
5 OctoberCeremony held to commemorate completion of passenger terminal building for Central Japan International Airport (CENTRAIR) off the coast of Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture. Airport will open on 17 February 2005 with Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu) line connecting airport to Nagoya City centre
8 OctoberCeremony held to commemorate completion of 18,000 m² Passenger Terminal 2 building at Haneda Airport serving mainly ANA flights from 1 December 2004
14 OctoberGhana's MK Airlines B-747 cargo plane crashed on takeoff from Halifax Airport, Canada, killing all seven crew on board
15 OctoberJR East announced tie-up with new Shin Ginko Tokyo to be created in 2005 by Tokyo Prefecture, adding Shin Ginko ATM capability to JR View Card with commuter-pass and credit-card functions
16 OctoberCargo train of about 50 wagons derailed outside Los Angeles, California, forcing evacuation of more than 2000 local residents
19 OctoberTwin-prop aircraft from St. Louis crashed on landing in Missouri, killing 13 of 15 passengers and crew on board
20 OctoberTwo-car train derailed and overturned on JR East's Iida Line in Tatsuno Town, Nagano Prefecture after torrential rains from Typhoon Tokage undermined track bed
Kawasaki Heavy Industries announced joint order worth ¥140 billion for 60 shinkansen train sets (480 cars based JR East's Hayate) with Nanche Sifang Locomotive Co. (Chinese rolling stock manufacturer in Shandong Province), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi, and others, for Chinese-government project to increase speed of existing railway lines with delivery starting from February 2006
23 OctoberRichter 6+ earthquake struck central Niigata Prefecture, derailing Joetsu Shinkansen (first shinkansen derailment in 40 years) between Urasa and Nagaoka, causing structural damage to line
27 OctoberNew York subway celebrated 100th anniversary with restoration of 1917-era train
28 OctoberMAGLEV linear motor car passed total of 400,000 km travelled on Yamanashi Test Line since start of test operation in April 1997
29 OctoberFollowing damage caused by Niigata Earthquake to Joetsu Shinkansen, MLIT instructed all JR companies operating shinkansen to inspect total of about 120,000 pillars supporting elevated shinkansen tracks
1 NovemberJR East opened travel centres in both stations at Terminal 2 of Haneda Airport to provide ticket sales and tourist information in partnership with local governments
Airbus Industries announced plan to establish first Asian R&D centre in China in 2005
6 NovemberExpress train derailed by car at crossing in Berkshire, England, killing six people and injuring 11 seriously
8 NovemberMLIT approved application from Meitetsu to close Gifu Shinai and Tagami lines (10.9 km) and Minomachi Line (Hinobashi–Sekima; 13.0 km), following already approved closure including Ibi Line (Chusetsu–Kurono; 12.7 km) by 31 March 2005
World Tourism Organization (WTO) announced total of 526 million people travelled overseas between January and August 2004, marking 12% increase over same period in previous year
9 NovemberTen-car cargo train carrying concentrated sulphuric acid derailed on Kosaka Railway's Kosaka Line in Odate City, Akita Prefecture
12 NovemberAfter rails stolen, train derailed and rolled 10 m down embankment into river in central Philippine province of Quezon, killing 12 people and injuring about 160
15 NovemberMajor French transportation group Connex submitted proposal to Gifu Prefecture, Gifu City, Chubu Transportation Bureau, and others, to take over 600-V Meitetsu lines in Gifu Prefecture scheduled to close in late-March 2005
CENTRAIR announced landing fee of ¥655,700 for B747-400 jets on international flights—less expensive than ¥948,000 charged by Narita Airport and ¥825,600 charged by Kansai International Airport but still more expensive than other countries
16 NovemberHigh-speed Tilt Train derailed and overturned in outskirts of Bundaberg on east coast of Australia, injuring 128 passengers and crew
JR Central and Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) recorded closing speed of 1026 km/h during high-speed test run of two MAGLEV linear motor cars on Yamanashi Test Line
NASA achieved new aircraft world speed record of almost mach 10 about 12,250 km/h) over Pacific Ocean using X43A unmanned supersonic test aircraft
21 NovemberChina Eastern Airlines' Bombardier CRJ-200 jet crashed on takeoff in Baotou City in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, killing all 54 people on board
29 NovemberKashiwazaki–Nagaoka section of JR East's Shin'etsu Line resumed services 37 days after sustaining severe damage in Niigata Earthquake on 23 October
30 NovemberGovernment Strategic Conference for Promotion of Tourism released report containing 55 recommendations, including staggering holidays, to make Japan internationally competitive tourist destination
Indonesian Lion Air MD82 aircraft (carrying 148 passengers and crew) ran off runway into rice paddy and cemetery while landing at local airport on Java, Indonesia, killing at least 31 people
1 DecemberTerminal 2 opened at Haneda Airport with new Tokyo Monorail station to serve ANA and other carriers with JAL remaining in Terminal 1
10 DecemberTokyu Corporation, Tobu Railway, and Odakyu Electric Railway applied to MLIT for permission to increase fares centred on increases in commuter tickets to reflect costs of several major construction projects, including double- and quadruple-tracking
Japanese government's International Organized Crime and Terrorism Task Force released Terrorism Prevention Action Plan mandating fingerprinting and photographing from FY2006 of all foreigners entering Japan as anti-terror measure
Airbus announced design and production of A350 next-generation mid-sized passenger plane (245 to 285 seats) to compete against Boeing's planned 7E7 Dreamliner
14 DecemberExpress and local trains crashed head-on in northern Indian state of Punjab, killing 50 people and injuring approximately 150
World's highest road bridge (343 m above river and 2460-m long) completed in Millau, France across River Tarn
16 DecemberLiberal Democratic Party convened Seibi Shinkansen Committee (studying new shinkansen construction) and announced new construction to start in 2005 on three routes: Shin Aomori-Shin Hakodate on Hokkaido Shinkansen; Toyama–Kanazawa Depot on Hokuriku Shinkansen; and Takeo Onsen–Isahaya on Kyushu Shinkansen (Nagasaki section)
Toshiba Elevator and Building System Corp. announced installation of world's fastest lift (16.8 m/s) in Taipei 101 (world's tallest building at 508 m and 101 stories) in Taipei, Taiwan
18 DecemberChange to FY2005 draft budget negotiated by ministers of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and Finance to build second 4000-m runway at Kansai International Airport by 2007 at cost of ¥30 billion
21 DecemberAirbus announced first order for A350 next-generation mid-sized plane from Air Europa
22 DecemberJR Group of passenger companies announced major timetable revisions from March 2005 including discontinuation of Asakaze and Sakura sleeper trains between Tokyo and Kyushu and more Nozomi services on Tokaido and San'yo Shinkansen
JAL announced order for thirty Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner aircraft currently in development as future backbone of mid-size fleet with planned introduction in 2008 to replace B767, A300-600, and other aircraft
24 DecemberRobinson R44 helicopter crashed in Ariake Sea in Saga Prefecture, Japan, killing all three people onboard
26 DecemberRichter 9 undersea earthquake off coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, triggered tsunami striking countries bordering Indian Ocean and leaving more than 280,000 people dead and missing, including 1000 passengers on train on Sri Lankan coastal line
China's first high-capacity (200 people) express bus (18-m long) started operations in Beijing
28 DecemberRepairs to Echigo Yuzawa–Nagaoka section of Joetsu Shinkansen completed 66 days after Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake
7 JanuaryMizuho Bank announced plan to partner with JR East from autumn 2005 by issuing new credit cards with built-in Suicaprepaid functions
Passenger and freight train collided head-on in outskirts of Bologna, northern Italy, killing at least 13 people
12 JanuaryFor second successive year, Airbus announced more orders (370) and deliveries (320) than rival Boeing Company
14 JanuaryBoeing announced record extraordinary losses of $340 million between October and December 2004 with total extraordinary losses for 2004 of $615 million
17 JanuaryOut-of-service subway train ran wrong way on Thailand's Bangkok subway, colliding with packed three-car train and injuring more than 180 passengers
18 JanuaryAirbus held unveiling ceremony at Toulouse plant in southern France to celebrate completion of A380, world's largest next-generation passenger plane with standard seating capacity of 555
21 JanuaryMLIT announced record number of foreign travellers to Japan in 2004 of 6.143 million (930,000 more than 2003)
25 JanuaryHigh waves capsized high-speed boat carrying tourists near Samui Island in southern Thailand, drowning at least 8 people
26 JanuaryCommuter train struck large passenger vehicle parked on tracks by suicide in outskirts of Los Angeles, California, to collide with stopped freight train and derail another commuter train, killing 11 people and injuring some 200
27 JanuaryTaiwan High Speed Rail (345-km between Taipei and Gaoxiong) based on Japan's shinkansen started test runs between Tainan and Gaoxiong in preparation for opening by late October 2005
29 JanuaryMeitetsu opened Kuko Line (4.2 km) between Central Japan International Airport and Tokoname Station
31 JanuaryIATA reported total airline industry losses of $4.8 billion for 2004 due to skyrocketing fuel prices and price competition
2 FebruaryRTRI announced successful development of hybrid train using lithium-ion batteries to store braking energy for re-use during running
WTO announced total of 760 million people travelling overseas in 2004—year-on-year increase of 69 million and highest ever number of international travellers
Small jet overshot runway after failed takeoff at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, USA, cutting across highway, slamming into warehouse, and injuring at least 14 people
3 FebruaryFukuoka City Transportation Bureau opened 12-km extension to Nanakuma subway between Tenjin Minami and Hashimoto, giving total length of 29.8 km
Kam Air B-737 passenger plane crashed east of Kabul, Afghanistan, killing all 104 people on board
15 FebruaryBoeing held ceremony at Washington plant to mark completion of 777-200 LR (301 passengers) with world's longest non-stop travel duration for passenger plane (17,446 km)
17 FebruaryCENTRAIR opened on artificial island off Tokoname with 24-h services using single 3500-km runway to 28 cities in 15 countries
High-speed ferry from Hong Kong collided with Chinese cargo vessel off Lantau Island, injuring 102 people
19 FebruaryRiver ferry capsized near Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, drowning 116 people and leaving more than 80 missing
22 FebruaryJR East modified SUICA smart-card season tickets for shopping at most stores in Ueno Station
MLIT approved application by Tobu Railway, Odakyu Electric Railway, and Tokyu Corp—three major private railways in Kanto—to lower some ordinary fares and raise season tickets
23 FebruaryJapan's Metropolitan InterCity Railway Company announced planned opening of Tsukuba Express (TX) between Akihabara in central Tokyo and Tsukuba Science City (58.3 km) on 23 August
26 FebruaryOut-of-service single-car train ran into collapsed earth embankment on JR West's Tsuyama Line in Okayama City
27 FebruaryWorkers broke through from both ends of Hakkoda Tunnel (26.455 km) currently being cut between Hachinohe and Shin Aomori on Tohoku Shinkansen to become world's longest land tunnel but soon to be second longest land tunnel when Lötschberg Tunnel (34.6 km) opens in Switzerland in 2007
Photo: World's tallest building, Taipei 101 (508 m and 101 stories)
(Tourism Bureau, Rep. China)
Table: Financial Results of JR Companies


Mr Satoshi Iwamura
Appointed Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on 24 June. Joined former Ministry of Transport (MOT) after graduating in law from University of Tokyo in 1969. Held Director General posts in Maritime Transport Bureau, Civil Aviation Bureau, Transport Policy Bureau, Secretariat, and Policy Bureau of MLIT before becoming Vice Minister for Transport and International Affairs of MLIT in July 2002

Mr Masafumi Yasutomi
Appointed Vice Minister for Transport and International Affairs of MLIT on 24 June. Joined former MOT after graduating in law from University of Tokyo in 1970. Held posts as Director General of Railway Bureau and Maritime Bureau before becoming Deputy Vice Minister in July 2002

Mr Harumi Umeda
Appointed Director General of Railway Bureau on 24 June. Joined former MOT after graduating in law from Kyushu University in 1973. Held post as Deputy Director General of Railway Bureau before becoming Deputy Vice Minister for Policy Coordination in Minister's Secretariat in July 2003

Mr Satoru Kanazawa
Appointed Director General of Road Transport Bureau on 24 June. Joined former MOT after graduating in law from University of Tokyo in 1972. Held post as Assistant Vice Minister in Minister's Secretariat's before becoming Assistant Commissioner of Tourism Department of Policy Bureau in August 2002

Mr Teiji Iwasaki
Appointed Director General of Civil Aviation Bureau on 24 June. Joined former MOT after graduating in economics from University of Tokyo in 1974. Held post as Assistant Vice Minister in Minister's Secretariat before becoming Assistant Commissioner of Air Traffic Services Department of Civil Aviation Bureau in August 2002

Mr Kazuo Kitagawa
Appointed Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in second reshuffle of Koizumi Cabinet on 27 September. Graduated in law from Soka University in 1975 before becoming attorney and certified tax accountant. First elected to Lower House of Japanese Diet in 1990 and held posts including Parliamentary Vice Minister of Finance, and Chairman of Komeito Political Investigation Committee

Mr Matsuo Toshimitsu
Former President of JAL died on 9 November aged 88. Joined JAL in 1947 after graduating from Sophia University. Held post of President from 1990 to 1995. Became JAL Board Advisor in 1995, Advisor in 1998 and President of Japan Aeronautical Association in 1999. Famed as originator of JAL Pack, which blazed overseas travel trail by Japanese

Mr Masao Ishibashi
Managing Director of Seibu Railway named President on 28 January after resignation of former President Mr Terumasa Koyanagi. Joined Seibu Railway in 1969 after graduating in economics from Keio University. Held post as General Manager of Transport before becoming Managing Director in 2004

Mr Mineo Yamamoto
Named President of ANA from 1 April 2005. Joined ANA after graduating in law from Kyoto University in 1970, becoming Director in 1999, Managing Director in 2001, and Vice President in 2003