The Aonami Line (Nishi Nagoya-ko Line) is a 15.2-km passenger railway opened on 6 October 2004, connecting Nagoya Station in central Nagoya City and Kinjo-futo Station at Nagoya Port (Fig. 1). The south-western Nagoya, where the Aonami Line now runs, had insufficient railway network, forcing residents to use road transport such as private cars or buses. The area used to suffer from traffic jam especially traffic to city centre. In addition, there are several huge development projects such as land reallocation business in Sasashima District, basic development in Yata and Takabata districts, and a large-scale housing development in Inaei District, requiring railway as public transport. To meet such demands, the Aonami Line opened, connecting Nagoya Port, a central port for international trading, and central Nagoya.
JNR’s Nishi Nagoya-ko Line (today’s Aonami Line) opened in June 1950 as a freight line. During the 1989 JNR privatization, the line was transferred to JR Central and JR Freight became a category-2 operator (providing passenger and/or freight transport on infrastructure of another company), and continued to operate.
In 1992, the Basic Plan for a Transport Network in the Nagoya Metropolitan Area with a High-speed Railway System was reported to the former Ministry of Transport (today’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport), suggesting change Nishi Nagoya-ko Line to a passenger line from Nagoya Station to Kinjo-futo via Sasashima and Inaei by converting the 12-km freight line to a passenger line, extending 4 km and operate the line by the third sector. The line was appointed as a line to be improved by 2008. After the report, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya Port maintenance union and JR Central established a third sector company, Nagoya Seaside Rapid Railway, in December 1997 toward the early realization.
The company obtained a category-1 licence (providing passenger and/or freight transport using own infrastructure) between Nagoya and Kinjo-futo in the same month, started construction in 2000, and opened the Aonami Line in October 2004 (Table 1).
Nishi Nagoya-ko freight line was closed in March 2001 to convert the line into a passenger line. The line was extended to Kinjo-futo in Nagoya Port, with whole section double tracked and electrified (Fig. 2). (15.2 route-km, 15.4 km of construction)
Between Nagoya and Nakajima stations, infrastructure of former freight line is improved and stations are built. Tracks between Nakajima and Kinjo-futo stations were originally level crossed but were elevated at main east–west roads to avoid road congestion.
Series 1000 runs on the Aonami Line, with capacity of 582 passengers and maximum speed of 110 km/h. A 20-m body is all-stainless with corporate colour of violet-blue and blue, that images a railway line connecting a city centre and a port.
The indoor seats use a recyclable material. Independent seating was adapted to facilitate seat changes. Also, spaces for wheelchairs and indoor indicator at the top of each door are available for people-friendly cars. Especially at the first carriage, there is a belt to fix wheelchair while train is running.
Station and architectural plan
There are 11 stations on Aonami Line from the consideration of development plan etc. for the future in the area. Also for user’s convenience, most stations are located near intersections of main roads, and the distances between the stations are at the subway level (Table 3).
Operation plan and fares
The base fare is ¥200, and ¥30 is added every section. The Aonami Line passengers may purchase a ticket card called Transpass, which can be used on Nagoya City subways, Nagoya City buses, Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu), Meitetsu buses, etc. Passengers will receive discounts when they transit between city subway and city bus, or purchase a combined-season ticket for both city subway and city bus. Also, under same conditions with city subways and buses, passengers with Nagoya City’s senior pass or welfare pass can use those passes on the Aonami Line.
Each train facilitates automatic train stop (ATS), centralized traffic control (CTC), and emergency brake (EB) to stop the train when any accident occurs. Also, ATS is located at the end of each stations for overrun prevention.
Each train facilitates Train Automatic Stopping Controller (TASC) so the train can stop at exact place in station. Also, a train image transmission device to check passenger movements at the station is installed to open and close doors safely for a driver-only operation.
A train radio is used for communications between a driver and an operation control centre at the time of unusual circumstances. When a driver needs stop the train for emergency, the driver will push a button and immediately notify other train drivers running near.
For soundproofing prevention, soundproofing walls are placed at elevated sections and long rails with fewer seams are used.
The rolling stock adopts the electric power resurrection brake, which energy at the brake may be converted into the electric power energy, return to the overhead wiring, and other trains may accelerate energy.
After 2 years since the Aonami Line opened, there were neither a big accident nor a trouble. The line is gradually established as the transporation of local residents, and 24,000 passengers use the line a day in average.
However, changes in a social economic situation caused the development delay around the region and the prolongment of the development project, and the number of the Aonami Line’s passengers are 1/3 of the expectations. We have tried to cut expenses by cutting initial investment from the construction phase, and have promoted the line through PR campaign. However, the business environment is still very severe. At this point, we are working under the 5-Year Plan of Aonami Line Management Improvement.
We will continue to offer safe train services with business efforts and management rationalization and to encourage trackside development to increase passengers.