Prefecture mulling to change Yui Rail trains from two to three-car units

Category: [ CURRENT ISSUE ]

The increasing popularity of the Okinawa Urban Monorail, commonly known as the Yui-Rail, is creating congestion and the number of passengers is expected to only increase in the foreseeable future, as the extension of its route from Shuri to Nishihara opens this summer and the second runway at Naha Airport opens in 2020.

To deal with the increasing demand, the prefecture is adjusting its policy to increase the transport capacity of the Yui-Rail, including increasing daily runs and shortening intervals between runs.

In addition, the planning for changing the trains into three-car units is starting this fiscal year and the prefecture has earmarked about ¥50 million in a draft budget for fiscal 2019 to set up a concrete plan.

A spokesman from Okinawa Prefecture Department of Civil Engineering and Construction said, “Based on the route extension opening this summer and the second runway in Naha Airport opening in 2020, the number of passengers on the Yui-Rail is expected to increase.” He also said that, “It’s possible that the route could be extended furtner in the future, Yui-Rail could also change to four-car trains.”

Not only for tourists, Yui Rail has become part of everyday life for local residents.

Regarding to Yui Rail’s increasing transport capacity, the Japanese government, Okinawa Prefecture, Okinawa Urban Monorail Company and experts have proceeded discussions at review meetings.

Budget procurements will be determined in the future talks because new trains and reconstruction of stations are necessary when changing to three-car trains and increasing daily runs.

The current stations are designed to accommodate three-car trains, but reconstruction of platform-gates will be necessary.

Okinawa Urban Monorail Company, Okinawa Prefecture, Naha City and Urasoe City are expected to chip in to the budget for the development of the Yui-Rail, State aid is also expected.

Currently, Yui-Rail services 15 stations on a 12.9-kilometer run. Starting this summer, the route will be extended 4.1 kilometers linking the current end of the run, Ishimine Station in Shuri to Kyozuka, Urasoe Maeda and Tedako Uranishi stations.

The number of passengers of Yui-Rail has increased more than expected because of the increasing number of tourists and commuters. The annual number of passengers in 2017 was 18,146,486 people. (822,498 people or 4.74% increase year-on-year.)

The average number of passengers per day was 49,716 people in 2017 fiscal year compare with 32,049 people on the first full year after starting the business. The average congestion rate during rush hours is 120%, peaking at 160 ~ 170%.

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