JR East aims to launch ferry route linking Haneda with central Tokyo


East Japan Railway Co is looking to launch a ferry service connecting Haneda airport with central Tokyo to attract overseas visitors and secure an additional transport route during disasters.

Together with its planned train line linking Haneda airport with major stations in Tokyo, the company, also known as JR East, aims to significantly improve access with the envisioned ferry service, which could start operation next year, JR East said.

Modeled after New York's Brooklyn district, the company plans to link popular tourist areas such as Asakusa and Nihombashi by setting the Takeshiba district, located near JR Hamamatsucho Station, as the terminus for the new water route.

The company is also floating a plan to launch routes serving tourist spots ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year, earlier than other routes.

The Takeshiba area in Tokyo's Minato Ward is in the midst of a large-scale redevelopment project being conducted by JR East. Under its project, planned for completion in 2020, the area will house hotels, theaters, offices and other facilities.

JR East will partner with tour boat operators in the city and plans to operate vessels that are small enough to navigate the numerous rivers and waterways near the coast, the sources said.

Passengers will be able to avoid congestion and enjoy the view, while infrastructure costs, such as docking points for boats, will also be low.

From January to November last year, JR East ran a trial of a water route departing from the Takeshiba district. The company received positive feedback from passengers, with comments such as "I saw the city in a different light," and, "It was more convenient than I expected."

In the event of a large-scale earthquake in the capital, JR East could utilize the water route to transport injured people and relief supplies, even when roads are blocked and train services are suspended, the sources said.

As for the redevelopment area dubbed "Waters Takeshiba," JR East plans to partially open it in April in time for the Tokyo Olympics. The area will also feature a new performance venue for the Shiki Theatre Company.


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Passengers will be able to avoid congestion and enjoy the view, while infrastructure costs, such as docking points for boats, will also be low.

While I am quite sure that the operators will find a way to ensure that the "tickets" to ride these ferries are just the opposite!

They will find a way to make it cheaper to take the traditional route!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

We already have a similar service Tokyo Cruise a commercial company serving the sightseeing water buses between Asakusa and Odaiba in Tokyo Bay. Their business may be affected. A problem of the water buses is many bridges over the Sumida River are not high enough the sightseeing water buses go under and when it is a high tide, the ships are out of services.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sounds like Bangkok. The river taxis there are a great way to get around.

As it is, my connection to Haneda is pretty awful: gotta take a bus or the Yamanote Line (!). Narita is much better, owing to 2 dedicated high-speed rail links.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Tokyo monorail from JR Hamamatsucho Station to Haneda is only 20 minutes anyway

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah I've seen a few water bus services, I know there's the Tokyo Water Bus which starts in north Tokyo and goes down the rivers. I remember seeing the pricing for it and it was almost comically expensive compared to any other form of transport so it would be useless to commuters even if the route was useful for them. It's not like this was a tourist route, the stations are in very normal neighborhoods like Senju and Akabane. I don't have much hope that this will be a competitive route in terms of pricing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sounds great. I do like ferry services and it's good to give the public an alternative method of travel.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Love the water buses which ply New York's East River. They are part of Met Transit, so you can use the same card as on the subways. They are fast, frequent, and pleasant. I wish JR success with this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I like water transport.  Not sure the view from Haneda is that great but still.   Yes this is likely to be expensive and also take longer than current options.   Still, worth a try.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like boats, particularly sailboats, but after a long-haul flight, nobody wants to take a boat ride. When you want to guarantee arrival on time before your flight, you take the most direct route to the airport with the fewest transfers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So, wait, help me out here....

The Haneda monorail goes to Hamamatsucho Station. Where you can directly transfer to the JR lines.

This proposed service would go to.... Takeshiba Pier, whose nearest station is Hamamatsucho Station, which is a 10 minute walk, last time I did it.

So, the people taking this service to Takeshiba Pier would then go.... where?? And why would that be faster / better than just taking the monorail or a train from Haneda?!

Now, if there was a high speed hydrofoil going from Haneda across the bay to Chiba and then a quick link to Narita, that is a different matter!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

As zones2surf says. It is pointless.

Don't know who those trial-passengers were but probably some baa-chan with plenty of time to kill, for some pocket money.

If you are a resident, after a 10-12 hour intercontinental flight, jet-lagged and sleep-deprived as hell and hit in the head with the 95% humidity as soon as you exited the airplane, you just want to get back home ASAP, take a shower and go to bed.

If you are a traveller, you want to get to your hotel and do the same, just as quickly (probably even more so).

For this service to be remotely viable, the HND to Takeshiba route would have to be lightning fast, which it most probably won't.

And, although the article did not mention it: Don't get me started on the "potential" sightseeing aspect, further up towards Asakusa and stuff: are the run-down, bubble-are warehouses and the army of homeless on the Sumida river-front what people have in mind? Not exactly a Venice-like cruising-experience, is it?

Finally, the disaster-recovery potential: built on reclaimed land, during a major earthquake, HND will sink into the sea just like KIX has done already, on multiple occasions (one did not even need an earthquake - a storm surge happily did it). On a second thought though, the ferries could be use to rescue people whoa re stuck at HND or floating on the sea, provided there is no typhoon striking at the same time.

Brilliant idea, indeed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A bizarre and pointless exercise as has been pointed out above. If JR East has money to spend why don't they fix Hamamatsucho Station, which is an ugly, rusting dump seemingly untouched since the early 1960s when it was built.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@zones2surf, et al.: great points, but as my significant other always says, "nantonaku."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I seem to remember hearing that the monorail was supposed to be better and go further, but they ran out of money when they built it. I think the Metropolitan Expressway is the same, a compromised best effort with the money available. It was the 1964 Olympics, so there was lots to pay for.

Haneda is now a fully-fledged international airport, so all transport should assume folks have luggage and accommodate them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Will this water lines run after midnight ?

Recent problem with my Haneda flights is they are late and all train services are over!

I hope Haneda airport solves this issue with the transportation companies that serve it!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wish they could update that ancient monorail service instead. It creeps along at such a slow pace. I'm bummed that Delta is switching to Heneda. That Skyliner is nice! Oh well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good idea. Won't work if the tickets are rip off prices though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anything to achieve Maehara's never ending dream of making Haneda a hub of Asia. Sadly, for Maehara, Incheon is the hub of Asia, and that won't change. And let's say it does, unless Japan want to reduce landing costs by 90% Bangkok and Singapore would still a preferential place of transit. And the biggest point, when I heard that Nagoya's Chubu airport was being built and would include a hot spring, I was amazed. I thought, 'what a great idea for people in transit'. Then I was told it is for people in country. Japanese people can go visit the new airport and take a bath at the hot spring. People in transit cannot unless they go through customs. TIJ.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Alfie Noakes ... they are painting the outside of the Station... but yes, it's a dump with fly-trap restaurants, and for disabled people - or those with luggage - a nightmare if you are foreign. But here on JT our words have no weight. We are the voiceless tax-payers, subservient to our Japanese Masters. (Please, do, provide a real example of where that Comment is wrong, otherwise.. it stands true.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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