Tokyo  —What’s getting billed as “the world’s most sophisticated train station” has opened in the western Japanese city of Osaka. Essentially a new wing of the current Osaka Station, eight minutes away through concourse, the “Umekita underground exit” aims to add 12,000 passengers to the station’s existing day-to-day footfall of about 300,000 by providing speedier access to Kansai International airport and the neighboring prefecture of Wakayama, a different significant tourism location.

“I am totally thrilled,” stationmaster Hiroyuki Watanabe told state broadcaster NHK when the 4 new train platforms opened for service in mid-March. “This is not just a diverse type of train station — it really is a subsequent-stage station.”

“The new station will have a substantial effect on foot website traffic,” gushed nearby bar owner Masao Tejima, speaking to Tv Osaka. “Specially post-pandemic, we definitely have higher hopes.”

An image offered by the West Japan Railway Firm shows the new sliding panel barriers on a platform at the Umekita underground wing of Osaka Train Station in western Japan, billed as “the world’s most sophisticated train station.”

West Japan Railway Firm

The centerpiece of the higher-tech train station is its distinctive floor-to-ceiling panels which — related to space dividers in a standard Japanese houses recognized as fusuma — slide on grooves in the floor in this case, to defend passengers from falling onto the tracks.

The digital panels also flash valuable particulars about oncoming trains and routes, and in contrast to traditional barriers, can slide into diverse configurations, accommodating door layouts which may well differ from train to train.

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More than the final decade Japanese train and subway operators have invested vast sums to set up a wide variety of protective platform barriers, from low-price, low-tech cables that descend when trains quit, to $9 million, 5-foot-tall sliding security gates. Whilst the expanding use of platform barriers is partially accountable for increasing fares, it really is broadly accepted as a needed tradeoff provided the alarming regularity of passengers tumbling onto tracks, typically whilst inebriated, distracted by their smartphones or for the reason that of sight impairment.

A report by Dai-Ichi Life Investigation Institute straight correlated the wider use of platform barriers with lowering the incidence of falls, from three,730 in 2014, to 1,370 in 2020. The statistics never take into account the steep decline in public transit use through the pandemic, but the accident price has trended reduced more than the final decade, regardless.

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The new Osaka Station extension is bristling with other higher-tech attributes: Alternatively of obtaining to scan a prepaid train pass or feed a ticket into a turnstile, for instance, some riders can merely stroll by way of a wide-open walkway equipped with a facial recognition scanner. Nonetheless in experimental use, the method is out there only to workers of JR West and commuter pass-holders.

Big Japanese transit hubs can be labyrinthine, and in Osaka, customers can now enter their location in a smartphone app to get customized guidance. Every user is assigned a distinctive cartoon icon — an onion, or bunch of grapes, for instance — which they will see discretely pop up on station indicators as they make their way by way of, like a trail of pixilated bread crumbs.

Extended lines at the lavatory may well turn into a point of the previous, as well, as massive digital bathroom indicators show not only exactly where the facilities are for guys, girls and folks with disabilities, but thoughtfully detail precisely how a lot of stalls are unoccupied in every single.  

Now, that’s hospitality.

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