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JR East to introduce numbering system at all stations in Tokyo

26 Comments

East Japan Railway Co (JR East) will introduce a numbering system for all its stations in Tokyo starting in October, in a bid to to facilitate navigation for foreigners traveling within the capital ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The numbering system will incorporate the combination of two alphabet letters showing the railway line to which it belongs and a two-digit number. It will also have the code and number of the station, enclosed in a box bearing the same color as that of the train line.

For example, Shinjuku Station on the Yamanote Line will be coded JY17 –– "J" for JR, "Y" for Yamanote Line and "17" for its unique number. It will be colored light-green, symbolizing the color of the loop line.

JR East also said that hub stations where many lines stop will be coded with three-alphabet letters, including UEN and TYO for Ueno and Tokyo stations, respectively. Akihabara station will be coded AKB.

The railway operator will also translate station names into Chinese and Korean, in addition to the already existing English.

The station numbering system has already been introduced by Tokyo Metro, which operates a total of nine lines and the Toei subway, as well as other rail lines in Tokyo.

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26 Comments
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Interesting! They did this in the subway seven or eight years ago, but I could not tell you which number any of the stations are because I don't use the numbers.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

this will certainly make it easier for tourists to make their way around tokyo. the new system will allow them to find their station easier and also they can guess how far away it is. but that new signage looks odd to me. looks like a calendar date.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Good move.

Next up: Basic announcements in more than Japanese and some (just a few will do, I'm sure) multiligual staff.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Keihan and some subways have been doing this for the better part of a decade, as well as having signs in many places in a number of languages.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

There is a mistake in that picture. Obviously Shinjuku Station should be No. 1, not No. 17.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

awesome!! Hope they keep making it more easier for foreign people, so that I do not have to escort my parents everytime haha

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The subway companies did this years ago but no one has any idea what the numbers mean and I'm fairly convinced tourists don't use them either. Just hire a capable programmer to rework your JR app so it doesn't spend half an hour loading on every single screen and add a map. Station names aren't hard to read when they're written in Romaji, tourists aren't idiots. I've never met anyone who had notable problems navigating the JR lines.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Foreigner: " Excuse me how do I get to JY17?"

Station staff: "Eeeh?"

10 ( +10 / -0 )

This kind of system will be probably be particularly helpful for announcements. Even where station names are written in romaji, non-Japanese-speaking foreigners/tourists might not know how the station name sounds when announce. This initiative can reduce that kind of confusion.

Also, there are plenty of stations with very similar names on some lines (e.g. Marunouchi and its Shinjuku-Gyoenmae, Shinjuku-sanchome, Shinjuku, Nishi-Shinjuku craziness; the Nishi-Shinjuku-Gochome that exists on Toei Oedo Line, etc.). The numbering system might not be that helpful on the Yamanote Line specifically, but presuming it's just the first step for JR, I'm glad they're doing it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is really a stop-gap solution for a much, much larger problem - that problem being the total lack of cohesion between operators. Most large cities across the globe have a state-owned operator, who also operates the bus, ferry & other modes of public transport.

Picture this: A tourist gets a hotel in Shinjuku for the Olympics. They're thinking 'Oh, cool. Right near Shinjuku Station'. Putting aside the fact that JR Shinjuku Station alone has over 200 exits - this tourist happens to be near the Seibu-Shinjuku line (Also 'Shinjuku Station). Let's not forget Shinjukunishiguchi Station (Toei), Shinsen Shinjuku Station (Keio), Shinjuku Station (Odakyu), Shinjuku Station (Metro), Shinjukusanchome (Metro) among others.

My point being each operator has its own pricing structure, ticketing system & map layout. It's a nightmare at the best of times. Stations with multiple lines have multiple maps, different ticketing machines.

It is going to be absolute pandemonium come 2020.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How about giving streets names and houses numbers with street names on the intersections in line with the rest of the planet?

Then station names could tie in with this - again, like the rest of the planet. "Tottenham Court Road," Goodge Street," "Oxford Circus."

Letters and numbers are confusing because they are similar. Tourists can read the Roman alphabet.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As an annual visitor to Japan who spends about one week out of six to eight in and around Tokyo, I see absolutely no use in the new letter/number system. All a tourist needs is a decent map of Tokyo, and they're readily available.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I just feel that no matter what steps are taken, lots of foreigners are going to get lost using the Tokyo metro system. It's complicated even for Japanese people from outside of the Tokyo area. But I'm glad they are at least taking steps to try and improve it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

How about the station exit system? I never understand it. Go up an escalator then you are confronted with hundreds of steps to get to the street level. I spent a year going in and out of Shinjuku station and never left by the same exit.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The numbering system is very useful. Because I don't have to remember every station name that I will pass before my destination. If I take from station JY5 and my destination is JY10, I know I make mistake if the next stop is JY4. Sometimes it happened.

Without nunbering system, I have to watch my google map everytime to make sure I wasn't in wrong train and wasn't pass my station just because I felt sleepy. And have to memorize each station that I will pass.

So thank you for that. And I hope the announcement also include the number

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I believe that JR East is just about the last commuter operation in the Kanto region to do this. Just about all the private railroads and the Tokyo Metro and Toei subway systems completed their work on numbering stations years ago.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is a mistake in that picture. Obviously Shinjuku Station should be No. 1, not No. 17.

Obviously, Tokyo station should be no. 1.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I wonder if the number for Akihabara Station will be 48...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Haha, what if they anglonized station and train line names in English like HK and Singapore? That would confuse the heck out of this monolingual society.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Another good idea might be to make one well-functioning app for public transit for all Tokyo. The bestI have found so far is Yahoo Japan's one, but it is somehow, inexplicably, not available outside the Japnese app store and not available in English.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Of course Akihabara should be number 48

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not sure of the value of numbers over place names.

What would help greatly is improved signage in stations, especially those relating to changes between lines. I've seen many cases where the direction signs take you to a crossroads with no indication of which way to go next. Take a guess, and if you're lucky you'll see the color-coded line line sign somewhere off the distance. Unlucky and you take a long walk to nowhere. In Shinjuku I saw two signs for the Marunouchi Line pointing in opposite directions.

Another much-needed improvement is to make the ticket machines more comprehensible. I've watched many trains come and go while waiting in lines behind confused people trying to fathom all the different options. It's not a language problem. The interface is poorly designed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I spent a year going in and out of Shinjuku station and never left by the same exit.

Hah, that's a good one! I actually could not find my way out of Umeda station in Osaka (big, but nowhere near as big as Shinjuku) and ended up having to book into a hotel for the night to gather my wits. The numbered exits did not help at all.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They need to code stairs and escalators too, as so often you take an escalator way up, and then there are no more, and if you have trouble walking, you are stuck. Sucks big time.

2 ( +1 / -0 )

All we need is a better signage's.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lot's of complaints in this thread. But I had a client visit last year who claimed 'these numbers are a godsend - I can't say, understand, or remember any of the actual station names. But I can plan out a whole trip using these numbers'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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