Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 66 (p6-p10)
Feature : Globalization of Japanese Railway Business
JR East Overseas Business
|Introduction||The world is taking a new look at the value of railways as a means of public transport for carrying large passenger volumes but with a small environmental footprint. This awareness is growing hand-in-hand with heightened concerns about global environmental issues and the economic growth of emerging economies. Many railway projects are being considered around the world, and the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE) announced in September 2014 that the global railway market grew by 1.5% from 2011 to 2013 with expected further expansion of 2.7% to €176 million (approximately ¥24.6 trillion) in the 6 years from 2014 to 2020.
Work by JR East in these railway projects has conventionally consisted of railway construction or procurement of rolling stock, signals, and the like, but in recent years this has changed to packages that include operation and maintenance. In light of these trends, work is underway in Japan to actively promote Japanese railway systems to overseas markets by public-private partnerships.
The JR East Group has ‘Tackling new business areas—Globalization’as one of the six basic courses of action in its management plan ‘JR East Group Management Vision V (Five)—Ever Onward’ established in 2012. Based on information gathering fostered by participating in international organizations and international exchanges, JR East is using its key strengths in railway administration, including operations and maintenance, to steadily promote measures for participation in business overseas. This will allow the company to pursue the potential of railways.
This article introduces JR East’s efforts in overseas railway projects and international exchanges and outlines the company’s activities at offices outside Japan. It also
covers the current situation and future course of action in efforts to participate in overseas railway projects.
|Participation in International Organizations
International Union of Railways (UIC)
|The UIC is an international organization with a membership of about 200 railway operators from around the world. JR East Chairman Satoshi Seino has been serving as Chairman of the UIC Asia-Paci fic Region since January 2013. In October 2014, the company hosted the 18th UIC Asia-Pacific Region Meeting and 3rd UIC Asia-Pacific Workshop on Control Command and Signalling, in Tokyo.|
|9th UIC World Congress on High Speed Rail||
JR East and UIC co-hosted the 9th UIC World Congress on High Speed Rail at the Tokyo International Forum from 7 to 10 July 2015. Twelvehundred people involved in highspeed rail from government agencies,railway-related manufacturers, railway operators, research organizations, and elsewhere met to make this one of the world’s largest exhibitions and international conferences on the topic of high-speed rail. The theme of the congress was ‘Celebrate the past, Design the future.’ The Congress provided an opportunity for countries with high-speed rail and those aiming to build high-speed rail in the future to look back on its half-century history and to look forward to the next half-century. Also, an exhibition was held simultaneously, attended by railwayrelated manufacturers and operators from Japan and around the world.
|International Association of Public Transport (UITP)||UITP is an international organization made up of approximately 3400 public transport operators and related bodies around the world. JR East Vice-Chairman Masaki Ogata has been serving as President of UITP since June 2015. And JR East has been participating in various UITP committees on the topics of regional and suburban railways, urban railways, security, marketing, and IT innovation, where information related to public transport is gathered and disseminated. The 13th UITP Asia-Pacific Assembly in Tokyo in April 2014 was hosted by JR East along with Tokyo Metro.|
|Networking Activities in International Organizations||
JR East is also a member of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), Association of American Railroads (AAR), and American Public Transportation Association (APTA). These networks with overseas railway operators formed through activities at international organizations are valuable sources of information for accurately identifying trends in world railways. Disseminating information at international conferences and holding international conferences in Japan contribute to fostering international understanding of Japanese railway technologies and efforts. JR East regards activities in international organizations as a foundation in developing railway business outside Japan.
|International Exchange and Cooperation||JR East has been running training programmes with
Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Korea Railroad Corporation (KRC)
for many years, and it has been dispatching personnel to
and receiving personnel from both companies to exchange
information in a wide range of areas, including business
reform, technical development, customer service, and group
management. Exchanges of opinions have also been made
in the USA since 2008 with US railway operators, such as
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and
US National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK).
Also, opportunities for exchanges with the Autonomous
Operator of Parisian Transports (RATP) in France and Swiss
Federal Railways (SBB) are being increased in Europe.
JR East has been actively accepting observation visits from overseas railway operators, with 892 people from 54 countries visiting in 2013. Trainees have also been accepted from developing nations at the request of agencies such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In these activities, international cooperation has been carried out by means such as holding lectures in specialized fields and accepting visits to field offices.
The main objective of such international exchanges is to contribute to the advancement of the world’s railways. But at the same time, JR East hopes to foster human resources who can look outward and understand various cultures and values, as well as learn from the excellent technologies and concepts of overseas railways to make improvements at JR East as well. Moreover, the networks formed and the views built by listening sincerely to visitors’ requests will be an important foundation on which the company can build railway business outside Japan.
|Setting-up Operation Bases Overseas||
JR East has had offices in New York and Paris for some time, and new offices were set up as bases of operations in line with the development of overseas railway business to gather information on railway projects abroad and enhance marketing. These new offices are in Brussels, Singapore, and London.
|New York and Paris offices||
Offices in New York and Paris were set up in the Japanese National Railways (JNR) era and were inherited by JR East, so they have a long history spanning 50 years. They conduct duties, such as contacting and coordinating with international railway organizations to which JR East belongs, participating in international conferences held by those organizations to gather and disseminate information, and participating in travel exhibitions in Europe and North America. They are also commissioned to conduct international business for JR companies, playing the role of overseas operations bases for the JR Group.
Belgium’s capital is a centre of European politics, hosting
the headquarters of international organizations such as the
European Union, UITP, and CER. Information on European
railways and transport policy is also concentrated here. The
Brussels office, registered as a branch office of JR East in
February 2013, gathers information on European railway
policy and disseminates JR East information, and also
conducts sales activities.
Vertical separation—separation of railway operation and
infrastructure management—has been on-going in the UK
railway market. Many transport operators from within and
outside the UK are entering the country’s intercity railway
operation market, and high-speed rail is being planned
there. As opportunities for JR East to enter the market
continue to be expected, the company set up an office in
London in April 2014.
The Singapore office was opened in March 2013 as a
base of operations in Asia where urban railway and other
railway projects are expected to start in the future. Through
efforts such as participation in international conferences
and exhibitions held across Asia and technical exchanges
with railway operators, the office works to increase JR
East’s presence in Asia and enhance networks there. It
also gathers information to enable participation in areas
such as new railway projects (high-speed railways and
urban railways) as well as operation and maintenance of
|Participation in Overseas Railway Projects||
JR East has been actively developing overseas railway consulting business such as business feasibility surveys and design work centred on Japan International Consultants for Transportation Co., Ltd. (JIC), which was established in March 2011. The company is also working closely with companies worldwide to participate in overseas railway projects including those in the field of operation and maintenance (planning, administration, support, equipment maintenance and related areas, and implementation related to train operation).
|Bangkok Purple Line||
JR East is participating with Marubeni Corporation and
Toshiba Corporation on business for maintenance of rolling
stock and wayside equipment for the Purple Line urban
railway now under construction in Bangkok. This is the first
case of a syndicate including Japanese railway operators participating in railway maintenance outside Japan.
Figure 1: Bangkok Train Route Map with Planned Route for Purple Line (JR East)
|Technical support for Indonesian railway operators||
JR East has transferred 180 Series 205 EMUs used on the
Saikyo and Kawagoe lines and 176 Series 205 EMUs used
on the Yokohama Line to PT KAI Commuter Jabodetabek,
the operator of suburban railways in the Indonesian
capital of Jakarta. Employees of JR East have also been
dispatched to provide technical support there. Engineers
from maintenance depots were dispatched to Indonesia for
a short time in November 2013 to support maintenance,
test runs, and confirmation work for delivered rolling stock.
Support for periodic inspection work was also provided
in January 2014. This marked the first time for JR East to
provide maintenance personnel directly for transferred
|Consulting for UK (HS2) high-speed rail project||
High Speed Two (HS2) is a UK project to build a new 530-
km high-speed line from London that divides at Birmingham
to Manchester and to Leeds. The JR East Group is providing
consultation to High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. This is the
first case where JR East Group has directly concluded a
consulting contract in Europe.
|Fostering Global Human Resources||
Fostering people with a global outlook who can actively
promote projects outside Japan is an important and urgent
issue for JR East. Without such people, the company cannot
take on the challenge of developing projects outside Japan
based on participation in international organizations and
networks with railway operators abroad.
This article has covered the steady progress of the JR East Group in measures for ‘Tackling new business areas— Globalization’, one of the six basic courses of action taken since the release of ‘JR East Group Management Vision V (Five)—Ever Onward’. To speed-up efforts in the group management vision, these new business areas will be tackled while continuing to participate in international organizations and conducting international exchanges and going forward with railway projects overseas.
Mr Yamanishi is Section Manager in the Planning Group of the International Department at Corporate Planning Headquarters, JR East.