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  4. Administrative Support for Sound Operation of Local Railways

2018 Vol.4
Administrative Support for Sound Operation of Local Railways


Maintaining local railways, particularly in regional areas, is becoming difficult due to Japan’s aging, shrinking population. Support from local authorities near train lines is increasingly important, but there is no comprehensive research on the best practical assistance to improve railway operations. This paper surveyed local railway operators nationwide via questionnaire and conducted interviews with railway operators and local authorities selected from among the respondents. The research investigated three broad issues and elucidated the following issues.
Issue 1. “What are the characteristics of local railways that have managed to improve their operations despite an aging, shrinking population?” According to the questionnaire, on all the routes where use was increasing, there was growth in the use of commuter passes. This suggested that key measures were promotions aimed at commuter pass-holders and capital investment to improve service.
Issue 2. “What were the outcomes and issues with respect to the “vertical separation” (public ownership and private operation) that is increasingly common in recent years?” One outcome is that railways have helped promote local authorities’ initiatives by becoming public infrastructure. One issue is that local authorities think vertical separation means the railways will be maintained, easing their sense of urgency.
Issue 3. “What is the appropriate division of roles between local authorities and railway companies?” Most effective would be assigning them to their areas of expertise—town planning for local authorities and tourism and collaboration for railway companies. In light of this, the paper proposes the “vertical separation of revenues.”