Friday, July 3, 2009

Down in fiery pits of Tokyo – The Oedo line

Generally I’m a pretty big fan of the public transportation system in Tokyo . The sheer number of subway and train lines in Tokyo and the surrounding areas can be quite intimidating in the beginning, especially if you’re from a small town like Stockholm with basically four subway lines all going in different directions with very little overlapping. Sure, unless you happen to have some form of special gifts, I don’t think anyone ever really “learns” the whole network of trains and subways, but a number of search tools like on yahoo and other places usually make it pretty easy to plan the fastest and best route to a destination without too much trouble.

In central Tokyo , the three main train operators are the Japan Railways commuter trains, the Toei Subway and the private Tokyo Metro subway system operating a large number of different lines. From a very practical standpoint, the JR trains go on the ground and the Toei and Metro trains go underground, but they are all reliable, reasonably cheap and convenient. With one big exception…

Just a few years back, Toei started a new line called the Oedo line, from a theoretical standpoint, the line made perfect sense. It created easier access to some areas in Tokyo where you had to do a few complicated changes to get to before. Sometimes when I look up the most convenient route to a destination, the Oedo line comes up as an alternative and at a few rare occasions when I haven’t taken it in quite a while I opt for that route, something that I usually quickly regret.

So, what’s the problem? The line is new, so the stations and platforms are usually very clean and has a nice design, the trains are of course crowded during rush hour, but not more than any other line in central Tokyo. The problem is that to fit the subway in with the other lines that operate in central Tokyo, the line had to be built pretty far down underground making it a real hassle getting down to the platform after passing the gates. The other day I stupidly thought it would be a good idea to change for the Oedo line since it seemed like the fastest route but what I failed to take into the calculations was that getting down to the platform took almost ten minutes and five set of stairs and then after arriving at my destination, I had to scale five escalators and trek for another ten minutes to breathe the air of freedom… I do hate the Oedo line…

10 comments:

Japandrew said...

I used to ride the Oedo every day, and a Japanese friend of mine mentioned the Roppongi Station is the deepest subway station in the world, and if you look at the wall next to the stairs, you can see numbers "40" and "50", which I think is the depth below ground level, over 50 freakin' meters!

Darin said...

Don't forgot that the cars are unusually narrow and the ride is really loud. You almost have to scream to talk to someone next to you and don't even think about listening to music, let alone a movie or, gasp, an audiobook. Oh, and who can forget the weird ass change at 都庁前. Very obvious the Tokyo politicians built that line to be as convenient for all 15 of them as possible, remaining 10 million of Tokyo be damned. I wonder how many stations have an exit right in front of politicians' front doors...

Mr. Salaryman said...

Yeah, ok the cars might be narrow and loud, but so's Hibiya line, but it's just the depths of the Oedo line I have severe issues with.

I would honestly not be surprised that if the Mole Man actually existed, he would have his base at the Oedo line...

ThePenguin said...

The Toei network is also darned expensive compared to the others. I was heading to Roppongi with 3 other people the other day and the logical route would have involved the Oedo line, but we worked out split between 4 people a taxi wouldn't have cost so much more.

Chris said...

We weren't there for long, but you quickly learn that not all changeovers are quick... some involved more than 600 metres of tunnels (helpfully signed with how many hundred metres we still had to go), and some even involved going up to the surface, crossing the road and then going down again!

But then again I wish our public transport system was half as good as theirs is.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that parts of it was built using the old bomb shelter system - thus the depth - although I've never confirmed that...


Also for Darin - you forget 国会議事堂前駅 - both 丸の内線 and 千代田線 stop here...

Lorden said...

the trains are also very slow.

Mr. Salaryman said...

For some reason I'm not too surprised that I'm not the only one hating on the Oedo line! I guess there's so many things to hate depending on person and preferences!

mkill said...

Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have memorized the complete Tokyo subway map, including Kanji, and I've beaten the yahoo route planner by finding a faster connection several times.

Ok, so maybe I have a special gift.

stepherie said...

tell me about it! just stayed at a friend's place in azabu-juban and would try to find routes using the namboku line instead of oedo as much as i could! interestingly, the oedo stop at ueno-okachimachi is only two floors below. who knew?! :)

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