Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 40 (pp.58–59)

March – May 2004

1 MarchNagoya Railroad (Meitetsu) submitted closure notice and application to shut (on 31 March 2005) 12.7-km Ibi Line (Chusetsu–Kurono), 10.9-km Shinai and Tagami lines, and 13-km Minomachi Line (Hinobashi–Sekima) in Gifu Prefecture
6 MarchSaemaeul express train (16 cars) bound for Pusan from Seoul derailed at Sechun Station in Taejon
Water taxi capsized in Baltimore, Maryland, drowning two people and leaving three missing
11 MarchThree terrorist bombs exploded almost simultaneously on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, killing about 200 people and injuring over 1700
16 MarchAdvanced Airport Systems Technology Research Consortium, comprising Narita Airport Authority (NAA, now Narita International Airport Corp.) and various airlines started trial of Hands-free Travel Service (full scale from 2006), allowing luggage with embedded IC chip to be picked up at home and permitting luggage-free travel to international destination airport
All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Suruga Bank announced world's first integration of ATM cards, mileage cards, and electronic money with start of new housing loan service that earns mileage points
22 MarchJR East started new service enabling use of SUICA smart-card rail pass for shopping and other payments at some 200 convenience stores and shops in stations in Kanto region and Sendai City
23 MarchNoto Railway Company announced closure of 61-km Noto Line (Anamizu–Takojima) on 31 March 2005, following March 2001 closure of Anamizu–Wajima section of 20.4-km Nanao Line and leaving only 33.1-km Nanao–Anamizu section of Nanao Line in operation
24 MarchTokyo Metro held first general meeting in advance of privatization of Teito Rapid Transit Authority (TRTA) on 1 April
Completion ceremony held for Central Japan International Airport with single 3500-m runway in Ise Bay off coast of Tokoname City in Aichi Prefecture with opening by February 2005
Third-sector company to take over JR West 8-km Toyama-ko Line (Toyama–Iwasehama) from FY2006 with start of tram operations announced new name of Toyama Light Rail
27 MarchNASA set new world jet speed record with speed of Mach 7 (about 8000 km/h) with unmanned test flight of X43A experimental craft powered by ramjet
30 MarchOpening ceremony held for KTX high-speed railway using French TGV technology before start of 300-km/h operations on Kyongbu (Seoul–Pusan) and Honam (Seoul–Mokpo) lines
31 MarchMeitetsu closed 16.4-km Hekinan–Kira Yoshida section and 8.6-km Sanage–Nishi Nakagane section of Mikawa Line in Aichi Prefecture
1 AprilNAA managing and operating New Tokyo International Airport (Narita) and TRTA privatized respectively as Narita International Airport Corporation and Tokyo Metro
German ICE traian collided with tractor on tracks in Baden-Württemberg, injuring tractor and train drivers and one passenger
2 AprilUS government announced biometric identifications such as fingerprints and photographs required of all tourists and short-stay visitors from 27 visa-exempt countries
7 AprilUS-based Continental Airlines announced complete switch to electronic tickets by year-end in order to reduce costs
Eurotunnel board unseated by revolt of individual shareholders to lose control of company managing Channel Tunnel
WHO and World Bank reported world total of 1.183 million traffic deaths (3342 per day) in 2002
8 AprilTokyo Air Traffic Control System of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) offline for 2.5 hours throwing air schedules into turmoil
12 AprilJapan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) announced 19.5% year-on-year drop (to 3.22 million) in 2003 departures from Japan due to effects of concerns about SARS, terrorism, and poor Japanese economy; 5.21 million (-0.5%) foreigners visited Japan in same period
13 AprilJR East announced intended introduction of mobile phone with built-in SUICA prepaid smart-card train pass in late FY2005
14 AprilMLIT announced Plan for Promotion of Removal of Utility Poles, calling for removal of utility poles and power lines from about 3000 km of main roads in urban areas between FY2004 and FY2005 with aim of improving appearance of urban and tourist locations to make Japan more popular tourist destination
18 AprilChinese Railway Ministry revised train schedules with introduction of non-stop, high-speed (160 km/h) express between Beijing and Shanghai, reducing travel time between two cities by about 2 hours
19 AprilMeitetsu and Central Japan International Airport Line Railway Co., Ltd. announced provisional opening of railway connecting Central Japan International Airport and Nagoya Station in about 30 minutes from mid-October 2004; access restricted to people involved with airport
Trains collided in tunnel at New York's Pennsylvania Station, injuring at least 130
27 AprilJR East and JR West announced agreement permitting 8.83 million users of JR East's SUICA smart-card train pass and 1.2 million users of JR West's ICOCA smart-card train pass to use passes on each other's lines from August 2004
Power cut stopped Tokaido Shinkansen between Mishima and Shizuoka in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture for about 2.5 hours
4 MayAir France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced merger as Air France–KLM, becoming Europe's largest airline
9 MayGround-breaking ceremony in Istanbul to mark start of construction of 11.3-km undersea subway tunnel crossing Bosporus Straight, linking European and Asian sides of Istanbul with planned opening in 2009
11 MayFour-day operation to preserve JR West's Nara Station as cultural asset by relocating entire station on rails as part of project to elevate line
14 MayPassenger plane crashed in Amazon River basin in western Manaus, Brazil, killing all 33 people on board
16 MayTurin-bound train derailed in northern Italy, killing one passenger and injuring 37
18 MayAzerbaijan cargo plane crashed near Urumqi Airport in western China, killing all seven crew
23 MayGlass roof of Satellite E at Terminal 2 of Charles De Gaulle Airport collapsed, killing four people and seriously injuring three
25 MayFirst 12-car train set for Taiwan Shinkansen (345 km, Taipei–Gaoxiong), unloaded at Gaoxiong Port in Taiwan after construction in Japan by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., and Nippon Sharyo, Ltd. with trials starting in September 2004 and opening scheduled for October 2005
31 MayMLIT announced joint use of Terminal 2 at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) from 1 December 2004 with Tokyo Monorail to construct Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station
Fire on Seattle Center Monorail in Washington injured nine people due to smoke inhalation


Mr Isao Matsuhashi
Former Chairman of JTB became Chairman of newly established Narita International Airport Corporation on 23 March. After graduating in commerce from Waseda University in 1956, joined Japan Travel Bureau (now JTB) where served as President and Chairman, before becoming Advisor to JTB board in June 2002

Mr Masahiko Kurono
Former President of NAA (from 2002) became President of Narita International Airport Corporation on 23 March. After graduating in law from University of Tokyo in 1964, joined Ministry of Transport (MOT and now MLIT) where served as Deputy Vice Minister and Director General of Civil Aviation Bureau and Administrative Vice Minister

Mr Shoichiro Hamanaka
Former Chairman of Nippon Express became Chairman of Tokyo Metro on 24 March. After graduating in law from University of Tokyo in 1954, joined Nippon Express where served as President and Chairman before becoming Advisor in June 2003

Mr Hisashi Umezaki
Former President of TRTA became President of Tokyo Metro on 24 March. After graduating in law from Kyoto University in 1966, joined MOT where served as Director General of Railway Bureau before becoming Administrative Vice Minister in 1999, and Vice President of TRTA in August 2002

Mr Terumasa Koyanagi
Former Executive Director of Seibu Railway named President on 8 April. After graduating in law from University of Tokyo in 1964, joined Ministry of Transport (now MLIT). Joined Seibu Railway in 1993 and assumed current post in June 2003. Current President Hiroyuki Toda stepped down to become Board Director

Mr Kyoji Nishikawa
Vice President of Hanshin Electric Railway named President on 23 April. After graduating in engineering from Graduate School of Kyoto University, joined former Japanese National Railways (JNR) in 1965. Joined Hanshin in 1986, where served as Director, Managing Director and Executive Director befor assuming current post in June 2003. Current President Masatoshi Tezuka to become Chairman

Mr Tsutomu Hanada
Representative Director of Keisei Electric Railway named on 28 April. After graduating in commerce from Keio University, joined Keisei in 1966, serving as Director and Managing Director before assuming current post in June 2002. Current President Hiroshi Otsuka to become Chairman

Mr Kiyohiro Matsuda
Senior Managing Director of JR Shikoku named President of JR Shikoku from 25 June. After graduating in engineering from University of Tokyo, joined former JNR in 1969 and subsequently holding posts as Managing Director and General Manager of Railway Operations in JR Shikoku before assuming current post. Current President Mr Toshiyuki Umehara to become Board Chairman

Mr Masayuki Matsumoto
Vice President of JR Central named President from 23 June. After graduating in law from Nagoya University, joined JNR in 1967 and subsequently holding posts as JR Central Director, Managing and Senior Managing Director, and Vice President. Current President Mr Takayuki Kasai to become Board Chairman with current Board Chairman Mr Hiroshi Suda becoming Board Advisor