Multimodal Transport and Railway Systems – Tokyo Station City

place_thumb.jpgOur third article in the series of posts on multimodal transport and railway systems will be about Tokyo Station City, the Marunouchi Station and its surrounding area. Served by Shinkansen high-speed rail lines, Tokyo Station is the main intercity rail terminal in Tokyo, next to the Imperial Palace in the centre of the city. In this article we will present the re-development, with a focus on the initial very important visioning process. Without a clear vision, successful development projects tend to fail, and the vision development in Tokyo was, not surprisingly, very successful.

Tokyo Marunouchi Station is the busiest station in Japan in terms of number of trains per day (over 3,000), and the fifth-busiest in Eastern Japan in terms of passenger throughput. It is also served by many regional commuter lines of Japan Railways, as well as the Tokyo Metro network. In recent years it has been extensively re-developed.

The Japanese nation is famous for its diligence and hard work, as well as its profound and rich cultural heritage and history. Japanese people’s dedication and ability to innovate made Japan the currently third largest economy in the world, and the ambition with the station development is well aligned with this.

Japan’s high-tech industry makes some of the strongest competitors in the world in their field. Also in rail transport, there is a strong competitiveness between numerous companies, with the majority of railway companies being in fact financially independent, meaning their railway operations are usually profitable, if not making a sharp contrast to most transit networks in other countries.

jp_06Being the primary choice for transport in Tokyo, rail naturally has the most developed urban railway network. Tokyo Metropolis comprises of over 880 interconnected rail stations, of which 282 are Subway stations. The most influential and widespread railway company in Tokyo is JR East, also being the largest passenger railway company in the world.

Tokyo Station is the busiest railway station in Japan in terms of the number of trains, with the number of passengers entering the station daily reaching 380 000.


The initial idea behind the revitalization project was to create an image of a railway complex unique in the world – a part of the city where culture, shopping, entertainment and business would combine into a single unit.

The Quad HelixThe visioning process to engage stakeholders for the development seems to have been very thorough. In Japan there is a principle called "Nemawashi”, which means the laying the foundation for some proposed change or project, by talking to the people concerned, gathering support and feedback, and so forth. It is considered an important element in any major change, before any formal steps are taken, and successful nemawashi enables changes to be carried out with the consent of all sides.

In Japan, especially high ranking people expect to be let in on new proposals prior to an official workshop or meeting. If they find out about something for the first time during the meeting, they will feel that they have been ignored, and they may reject it for that reason alone.

Thus, it is important to approach stakeholders individually before formal meetings. This provides an opportunity to introduce the proposal to them and gauge their reaction, and it also allows for good chance to hear their input.

imageThis is a process we also follow very much in Bearing, when we work with development of visions and strategy for both public sector and corporate sector clients.

Individual stakeholder meetings is a key to successfully develop and anchor any change, followed by workshops and meetings where the stakeholders can see that there is a consensus.

The visioning process for Tokyo Station City began in 1996. The ambition was to create an “able city of new opportunities” within the dimensions of amenity, business, life and environment. Key input to the visioning process was:

  1. The district must transform into an attractive urban space, in order to survive fierce inter-city competition.
  2. Measures should be taken to upgrade the district´s functions as an international financial centre, and to transform the district from a CBD (Central Business District) to an ABC (Amenity Business Core).
  3. The district must become a model economic centre for surrounding districts, as well as a model of urban development in Tokyo.

The basic principles for the visioning process was expressed as pictured below, from the District Redevelopment Project Council notes in April 2008:

Screenshot 2015-05-30 10.54.46

The visioning process was ambitious and the discussion was held with a number of parties in four sectors, as can be seen in the illustration below.

Screenshot 2015-05-30 10.47.17

Marunouchi is home to nearly 4,000 companies where approximately 230,000 people work. As a business centre, it competes with New York City in the number of Fortune Global 500 company headquarters it hosts.

In brief, the redevelopment project aspired to transform Marunouchi into “the liveliest, most interactive town in the world.” Meaning the project should make Tokyo Station City  into not only a business district, but a vibrant, bustling district for business and lifestyles where the 8 goals agreed by stakeholders became:

  1. City that can lead the world in business
  2. City that bustles with people
  3. City as the centre of information in the information era
  4. City that respects both quiet traditions and dynamic activities
  5. Convenient and comfortable city
  6. Environmentally-friendly city
  7. City that is safe and secure
  8. City that the community, government and visitors cooperate in developing

The concrete ambition of the project, as we understand it, can be seen as a number of ambitions within four different fields, as mapped through the graphic displaying four main factors shown below.

Screenshot 2015-05-29 08.30.00

In order to broaden the revenue source for the Tokyo Station City project and enable the funding for the development, numerous private Japanese companies invested in areas around the station in order to set up new business as a part of the diversification strategy. It resulted in present-day Tokyo Central Station being made up out of the original old building and surrounding buildings which belong to the JR group.

Screenshot 2015-05-29 08.27.22

The first stage of the renovation happened prior to 2007 with the construction of ‘’GranRoof’’ concourse between two towers covering the part of the station.

Between 2007 and 2011 the early twentieth-century station damaged during the Second World War was restored to its original architectural form, reinforcing the resistance to future large scale earthquakes. The old building of Tokyo Station was completely renovated at a cost of 50 billion yen, restoring the third floor as well as adding a shopping floor and two basement levels for technical equipment and car parking.

Screenshot 2015-05-30 11.05.52

The second phase which ended in 2013 was a construction of a second tower next to “Gran Tokyo North” and a reconstruction of a middle part of “GranRoof”.

Screenshot 2015-05-29 08.29.03

In this case study we have also researched the way the project was financed, and the structure of investments. The commercial project was initiated by JR East and the total estimated cost of the restoration project of the Tokyo Station is 50 billion yen (€ 368 million). The total estimated cost for the Tokyo Station City project is 130 billion yen (€ 959 million), not including the cost of land and other expenses for other projects that are done by individual companies.

The structure of the involved entities was as displayed:

Screenshot 2015-05-29 08.31.06

The project amined to enhance transport node function and create a pedestrian space, but at the same time found a new world scale business hub. The goal was to create a place where companies or people could interact with business companies, research institution and universities. This acted as a preparation of fertile soil for future commercial development projects while staying on the course of restoring the station itself.

Screenshot 2015-05-29 08.31.36

Here is a brief video, with Marco Kamiya from United Nations Habitat introducing the Tokyo Central Station case.

Marco Kamiya on Tokyo Central Station re-development


Next week we will present the Citybanan project in Stockholm, Sweden, a 6km long commuter train under water and under ground tunnel with two new underground stations below the city, whose goal was to double the capacity of Stockholm Central Station.

1 comment

  1. Very good and accurate assessment of Japanese Value Capture.
    Marco Kamiya

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