Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 38 (pp.68–69)

August – October 2003

4 AugustMajor US rail freight carrier Union Pacific announced sell off of small freight subsidiary Overnite to concentrate on main business
6 AugustFire in railway tunnel under construction in central Spain trapped 34 workers for 5 hours before rescued
7 AugustTwo mountain railway trains collided head-on in Interlaken, Switzerland, injuring 64
Okinawa-based newcomer Lequios Airlines filed with Naha District Court for protection under Civil Rehabilitation Law before starting operations
8 AugustPusan-bound express train collided with freight train in south Korea, killing two passengers and injuring more than 90
10 AugustYui-rail monorail (12.9 km, Naha Airport–Shuri) opened in Okinawa as first rail system since WWII
Echizen Railway's Mikuniawara Line (25.2 km) completed with opening of Nishi Nagata–Mikuni-minato section (13.5 km)
16 AugustPassenger boat capsized on tributary of Amazon River in northern Brazil, drowning 10 and leaving approximately 20 missing
17 AugustSome 10,000 m² of embankment collapsed on Oigawa Railway in Kanaya Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, leaving no date for return to service of popular steam operations
20 AugustRailway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) announced first successful test of battery-powered tram without overhead wire (see Photostory on p. 2)
JR West announced start of ICOCA IC card ticket services at major Kansai stations from 1 November
23 AugustJR Kyushu announced opening of Shin Yatsushiro–Kagoshima Chuo section of Kyushu Shinkansen from 13 March 2004 with consequent major timetable revision throughout Kyushu (see Photostory on p. 71)
24 AugustSmall passenger plane on domestic flight exploded and crashed in Haiti, killing all 21 passengers and crew
26 AugustJapanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced visa exemption for Chinese tourists and businessmen visiting Japan for 14 days or less
28 AugustBridge over Daman Ganga River in western India collapsed, killing 23
3 SeptemberCommittee for Study of Future of City Transportation submitted interim report to mayor of Yokohama recommending full privatization and conversion into joint stock company of heavily indebted (¥487 billion at end FY2002) Yokohama subway lines 1 and 3 (40 km) and line 4 (Hiyoshi–Nakayama) under construction
Approximately 2-km pipe completed by JR East and Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) between Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park and underground springs in nearby Tohoku Shinkansen tunnel to carry about 270 m³ of spring water to clean pond and save JR East about ¥30 million in annual water disposal costs
5 SeptemberFirst car of Big Thunder Mountain roller-coaster at Disneyland Anaheim, California, derailed, killing one passenger and injuring 10 others
15 SeptemberCruising sailboat capsized on Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, drowning three children and four adults on board
16 SeptemberSmall TB21 single-engine plane crashed at Tsushima Airport in Nagasaki Prefecture, killing all three on board
18 SeptemberMinistry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) approved application by Sendai City for category-1 railway licence to operate planned (2015 opening) 13.9-km linear-motor subway Tozai Line between Dobutsu-koen and Arai
19 SeptemberMLIT, TMG and Teito Rapid Transit Authority (TRTA) announced plan to mark all subway stations with letters and numbers from April 2004 for easy identification by foreign visitors
20 SeptemberSightseeing helicopter crashed into western side of Grand Canyon in USA, killing all seven passengers and crew
Train slammed into bus on crossing 150 km south of Pakistan capital of Islamabad, killing at least 40 people on bus
23 SeptemberSwiss airline SWISS announced business alliance with British Airways (BA), joining One World Federation of eight airlines, including BA, American Airlines, and Cathay Pacific Airways
25 SeptemberFrench Ministry of Health announced severe summer heat between 1 and 20 August killed some 14,800 people
Ceremony held in Darwin to mark completion of 1420-km Trans-continental Australian Railway between Alice Springs and Darwin 145 years after first planned
28 SeptemberWorker error and other construction problems caused points failure on JR East's Chuo Line near Mitaka, causing cancellation of 234 trains and affecting about 180,000 people
Two trains belonging to Deutsche Bahn AG collided head-on on single track near Weimar in central Germany, killing one passenger and injuring 29 others
Tour boat with 349 passengers ran aground near Lorelei Rocks in River Rhine in Germany, injuring 40 passengers
30 SeptemberAir France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced merger agreement to create Europe's largest airline
1 OctoberShinagawa Station opened on Tokaido Shinkansen, creating new western gateway to Tokyo with major JR Central timetable revision and switch to Nozomi shinkansen services running at 270 km/h (see JRTR 37, p. 2)
Domestic airfreight carrier Orange Cargo started flights between Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) and Nagasaki and Kagoshima airports
2 OctoberRailway transport statistics for FY2002 released by MLIT with estimated total passenger traffic at 21.44 billion people and 382.245 billion passenger-km (year-on-year decline of 1.3% and 0.8%, respectively); freight traffic estimated at 56.592 million tonnes and 22.131 billion tonne-km (year-on-year decline of 3.5% and 0.3%, respectively)
9 OctoberViet Nam and US governments signed agreement to open air passenger and freight routes between two countries
10 OctoberFerry struck bridge and sank in River Benue 700 km east of Nigerian capital of Abuja, killing more than 100 passengers
Europe's largest raised waterway crossing completed in Magdeburg, eastern Germany, allowing ships to cross River Elbe on 918-m long and 34-m wide canal bridge
12 OctoberSeven-car train derailed outside Chicago, injuring 100 passengers
15 OctoberStaten Island Ferry struck Manhattan Terminal pier, killing 10 passengers
Wire derailed on cableway at Mitake Ropeway Ski Resort on eastern slope of Mt Ontake (3067 m) in Nagano Prefecture throwing couple out of gondola and killing them
18 OctoberSix-car express train overran stop position in Shin Gifu Terminal of Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu) to crash into buffer and derail, injuring four passengers
19 OctoberSubway train passing through London Underground's Camden Town Station derailed into platform wall, injuring seven people
Cableway gondola plunged 100 m to ground in Darjeeling in north-east India, killing four and injuring 11 on board
24 OctoberConcorde supersonic airplane retired by British Airways after making final flight between New York and London
26 OctoberGround-breaking ceremony held at JR West's Nagahama Station on Hokuriku main line to start construction of Lake Biwa Loop Line linking section between Nagahama and Tsuruga on Hokuriku main line (38.2 km) and Nagahara and Omi Shiotsu on Kosei Line (5.8 km)
29 OctoberMeitetsu and Itochu Corporation announced HSST System Sales joint company to market new HSST (High Speed Surface Transport) maglev linear-motor car urban transportation system overseas
31 OctoberJapan Air System and All Nippon Airways announced start of air shuttle services between Haneda and Kimpo Airport in Korea from 30 November 2003
Photo: Yui-rail monorail departing from Naha-kuko (Naha Airport) Station
(Okinawa Urban Monorail)


Mr Nobuteru Ishihara
Appointed Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in reshuffled Koizumi Cabinet on 24 September. After graduating in literature from Keio University in 1981, worked as TV journalist before elected to House of Representatives in 1992. Held positions as Parliamentary Vice Minister for International Trade and Industry and Minister of State for Administrative Reform and Regulatory Reform