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Olympics predicted to set new overcrowding records on Tokyo public transport


"Homicidal" was the word appearing in the headline of Yukan Fuji (May 15) regarding the passenger conditions being anticipated on Japan Railways, the Tokyo metro and private commuter lines during the Summer Olympics two years away.

Based on the locales and schedule of events, Azuma Taguchi, a professor of engineering at Chuo University, has put together a projection of passenger movements, from which he ran simulations. As a result, many cases of extreme overcrowding are likely to occur, particularly at major stations where passengers transfer to other lines.

At Tokyo Central Station, for example, designed passenger capacity is likely to be exceeded by 1.8-fold in worst cases; at JR Shinjuku, that figure goes up to 2.3-fold. And in the case of Nagatacho station on the Tokyo metropolitan subway line, in worst cases the overcrowding will reach three times the rated capacity.

"We are only talking about simple calculations," Taguchi is quoted as saying. "Actually, it's impossible to squeeze 3-fold capacity onto a station platform."

In Taguchi's view, unless some preventative steps are put into place, such as limits on passenger access, efforts to alleviate overcrowding will fail.

Stations such as JR Sendagaya, which will be located closest to the new National Stadium where many of the track and field events will be held, is in for an inundation of human flesh. On Friday July 24, for instance, the opening ceremonies will be held from 8 p.m. The Diet is mulling a law creating one-time national holidays for July 23 and 24, which may help reduce traffic congestion. However, from July 29 to Aug 8, heavy traffic can be expected at Sendagaya, the station also serving the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, which will host the popular table tennis competition.

Elsewhere in the city, in places accessed by the Yurikamome Line, such events as volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, beach volleyball, etc, will be held from July 25 to Aug 2. The line's terminus, adjacent to JR Shimbashi Station, is likely to resemble a human anthill from the first trains of morning.

"There's no mistake that stations closest to events will be mobbed," the aforementioned Taguchi remarks. "It will probably be easier to ask some passengers to disembark at one station just before the closest station in each direction, as a means of dispersing the crowds." Unfortunately that still leaves transfer points, which are likely to be extremely crowded during the morning and evening rush hours.

The problem is not just that of Tokyo alone, Taguchi adds. "While the scale might be smaller elsewhere, when major events are held, even regional cities will be affected by the spillover. One can recall the situation in 1970 when Osaka hosted the World Exposition, and the entire Kansai area felt the pinch."

Among measures Taguchi suggests to alleviate the crowds would be for businesses to proactively set up a system between now and 2020 to arrange for their staff to work from their homes. But preventative measures aside, he's convinced that a nightmare of crowding on the city's transport system is going to be inevitable.

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When an international soccer event was taking place in Yoyogi last year, the passengers were lined up from the platform of Harajuku station, up the stairs, through the concourse and out to the ticket gets. People were spending about 30 minutes very slowly shuffling along just to get to the platform.

I don't know how they're going to incrrease capacity in places like that. It's already at the seams

"Nagatacho station on the Tokyo metropolitan subway line..."

Lazy translator. Three "lines" run thru there: Hanzomon, Nanboku and Yurakucho. "Tokyo Metro" is the name of the subway system.

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Tokyoites will be forced to (gasp!) take time off

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Lazy translator. Three "lines" run thru there: Hanzomon, Nanboku and Yurakucho. "Tokyo Metro" is the name of the subway system.

Lazy commentator. Why didn't you also mention that Nagatacho connects via underground passageway with the Ginza and Marunouchi "lines"?

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When an international soccer event was taking place in Yoyogi last year

What event was that then? The old Kokuritsu was demolished in 2015.

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Remember: you asked for it.

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Tokyoites will be forced to (gasp!) take time off

Hell will freeze over before that happens.

The commuter rush is already bad as it is. Add more crowds, and it's a recipe for disaster.

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I don't think trains will be so crowded. Less people attend events like Olympics or stadium sport than matsuri, fireworks or even the marathons.

But when it's international and hyped (important if you want), there is a reinforced security process. So if they do like usual (for instance for heads of States meetings), parking will be restricted days in advance, delivery schedules modified, certain streets will be blocked, including big avenues. Then for each event or at least the big ones,

3 hours before till 3 hours after, area could be cordonned off, and there will be many cops at the area access points, they will let go only ppl on foot, certain vehicles serving the event and taxis.

People working there will be informed, they will need to change their work hours (come earlier/later or leave earlier/later) . And the shops will be deserted as their usual customers will not show up the whole day, while game visitors will be catered too by stands along the waiting lines....

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Tokyoites will be forced to (gasp!) take time off

Hell will freeze over before that happens.

Agree. BUT if they did, it would be the only good thing about the Olympics. This was a HUGE mistake. I know I'm not going to do my best to take time off and fly away.

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