Tokyo Monorail

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Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line
Tokyo Monorail logo 2018.svg
Tokyo Monorail Tennozu Canal 1.jpg
A train passing through Tennōzu in Shinagawa
Native name東京モノレール羽田空港線
TypeStraddle-beam Monorail
LocaleTokyo, Japan
TerminiMonorail Hamamatsuchō (north)
Haneda Airport Terminal 2 (south)
Daily ridership134,895 (2017, average)[1]
WebsiteTokyo Monorail
OpenedSeptember 17, 1964 (1964-09-17)
OwnerTokyo Monorail Co., Ltd.
CharacterElevated and underground[2]
Line length17.8 km (11.1 mi)
Minimum radius120 m (390 ft)
Operating speed
  • 45 km/h (28 mph) (average)
  • 80 km/h (50 mph) (top)
Route diagram

Tennōzu Isle
Ōi Keibajō-mae
Ryūtsū Center
International Terminal
Terminal 1
Terminal 2

The Tokyo Monorail (東京モノレール, Tōkyō Monorēru), officially the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line (東京モノレール羽田空港線, Tōkyō Monorēru Haneda Kūkō sen), is a monorail line in Tokyo, Japan. An airport rail link, it connects Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) to Tokyo's Ōta, Shinagawa, and Minato wards. The 17.8-kilometer (11.1 mi) line serves eleven stations between the Monorail Hamamatsuchō and Haneda Airport Terminal 2 stations. It operates on a predominantly elevated north–south route that follows the western coast of Tokyo Bay. The Tokyo Monorail is one of two rail lines serving the airport, with the other being the Keikyū Airport Line. At Hamamatsuchō Station, its passengers may transfer to the Keihin–Tōhoku and Yamanote lines of JR East, as well as the Asakusa and Ōedo lines of the Toei Subway via nearby Daimon Station. The monorail also connects with Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit's Rinkai Line at Tennōzu Isle Station.

Plans for Japan's first airport rail link were announced in 1959 as Tokyo prepared for the hosting of the 1964 Summer Olympics.


Background and planning[edit]

Haneda Airport in the 1950s

Japan's commercial aviation industry recovered from the Second World War in the early 1950s. By this time, Tokyo's Haneda Airport emerged as the country's largest transport hub and international gateway. In 1959, with approximately 910,000 total passengers using the airport and many more expected for the coming 1964 Summer Olympics, a plan for a central Tokyo-to-airport rail link was unveiled. Opponents of the rail line briefly countered with a proposal to extend the Tokyo Expressway instead, but fears that this would only worsen congestion led to a preference for rail. Established in 1960, the Japan Elevated Railway Co., Ltd., later the Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd., selected an Alweg-type monorail for the line's preferred mode. This was due to two factors. First, the company's president, Tetsuzo Inumaru, was an old friend of Dr. Axel Wenner-Gren, the founder of Alweg. Second, Hitachi, Ltd., which would build the line, was keen on further developing the technology.[3]:9

Project planners originally intended the monorail line to extend from Haneda Airport to Shimbashi or Tokyo Station,[4] and a license had been acquired to build it up to either station.[5]:3 However, opposition from residents living near the Shibaura Canal, which had been part of the proposed route,[6] as well as cost overruns during the construction of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, which drained government subsidies, resulted in a shortened route to Hamamatsuchō Station. To further minimize costs, the line was routed over other public waterways donated by local municipalities, which eliminated the need to acquire expensive private land, but reclaimed parts of Tokyo Bay, as well as rivers and canals. The resulting alignment removed a number of fishing and aquatic farming operations, and local fishing cooperatives had their licences revoked by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Among them was a seaweed harvesting field in Ōta Ward that had produced a premium brand of nori since the Edo period called Omori no nori.[4]

Construction and opening[edit]

The Ministry of Transport authorized the monorail project in December 1961.[3]:9 Construction of the line progressed rapidly. Work began on May 1, 1963,[7]:248 and service commenced on September 17, 1964, ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony on October 10.[8] The line cost a total of 21.1 billion yen (equivalent to approximately $60 million in 1964 dollars[9]), of which 20 billion yen was spent for construction and 1.1 billion yen on rolling stock.[3]:9 Hitachi built the first-generation cars in Japan, which were inspired by the original Alweg design developed for the Seattle Center Monorail and the original Disneyland Monorail. Upon its inauguration, the Tokyo Monorail became the world's first commercial monorail and Japan's first airport rail connection.[10][11] At the time of opening, it ran a total length of 13.1 kilometers (8.1 mi) and served only its termini: Hamamatsuchō Station and the airport. Most of the artificial islands in Tokyo Bay had not yet been reclaimed, and the line mostly ran over water.[12] The price for a one-way ticket was 250 yen,[13][14] which was relatively more expensive than other available options at the time. It was notably cheaper to take a taxi with four people to the airport than to ride the monorail. A recession following the Olympics resulted in a decrease in airport arrivals, which severely affected ridership. In 1966, Tokyo Monorail was forced to reduce the price of the fare to 150 yen to attract more passengers.[12]

Infill stations and expansions[edit]

Construction of Haneda Airport International Terminal Station in 2009

Ōi Keibajō-mae became the monorail's first infill station upon its completion in May 1965. It was originally built as a temporary station above the water along the coast and it operated only on days when an event was taking place at Ohi Racecourse. Its permanent replacement opened in June 1967. The city government subsequently reclaimed the area around this station and developed a housing complex today known as Yashio Park Town [ja].[12] Between 1967 and 1993, four more stations were built along the original alignment. These were Haneda Seibijō, later renamed Seibijō (1967); Shin Heiwajima, later renamed Ryūtsū Center (1969); Shōwajima (1985); and Tennōzu Isle (1992).[5]:3

When the monorail began operation, the passenger terminal at Haneda Airport was located on the west side of the airfield, south of Seibijō, and this was the southern terminus of the monorail. This stop, formerly named Haneda Station, was renamed Tenkūbashi Station in November 1998. Upon the opening of the new passenger terminal (now Terminal 1) in 1993, the monorail was extended to a new platform and another station, Shin-Seibijō, was built for the employees of nearby maintenance facilities.[5]:4 Meanwhile, the former passenger terminal was razed and the monorail tunnel beneath it was abandoned to make room for an extension of Runway B. Although the rails were removed and its entrance walled off, the now-unused tunnel remains otherwise intact today below the extension of Runway B.[15]

A single-station, 0.9-km extension to Haneda's new Terminal 2 opened on December 1, 2004, and the opening of a passing loop at Showajima allowed express services from March 18, 2007. A new infill station to serve the airport's new International Terminal was opened on 21 October 2010.

The Tokyo Monorail serves eleven stations and operates from around 5:00 a.m. to midnight with over 500 trains. It carried its 1.5 billionth passenger on January 24, 2007.[16]

Planned extension to Tokyo Station[edit]

In June 2009, Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd., formally notified the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of its intent to convert the present single-track terminal at Hamamatsucho, which had rested unchanged since 1964, into a dual-track, dual-platform structure. To be built in six and a half years at an estimated cost of 26 billion yen, this would increase the line's capacity from 18 to 24 trains per hour and lay the groundwork for a long-mooted extension to Shimbashi Station.[17] In August 2014, it was revealed that the line could be extended from Hamamatsucho to Tokyo Station, running alongside the Yamanote Line tracks between Shimbashi and Tokyo. Total costs are estimated at 109.5 billion yen, with construction taking approximately ten years.[18][19]


A monorail train running alongside Shuto Expressway, shown in 2010

The Tokyo Monorail is 17.8 kilometers (11.1 mi) long.[5]:12 It travels across three wards of Tokyo: Ōta, Shinagawa, and Minato. The line's northern terminus is Monorail Hamamatsuchō Station. From there, the tracks travel southbound, crossing over various other lines including the Yamanote, Keihin–Tōhoku, and Tokaido Shinkansen lines.[20]

Service patterns[edit]

The following three service types operate on the line:

  •      Haneda Express (空港快速, Kūkō Kaisoku)
  •      Rapid (区間快速, Kukan Kaisoku)
  •      Local (普通, Futsū)

Tokyo Monorail trains operate on an average headway of four minutes. This can be as short as three minutes and 20 seconds during peak hours.[5]:2[21]:33 Local trains stop at every station, with end-to-end travel taking 24 minutes. Rapid trains bypass the Shōwajima, Seibijō, Tenkūbashi, Shin-Seibijō stations, and take 21 minutes to travel across the line. Meanwhile, Haneda Express trains make non-stop runs between Monorail Hamamatsuchō and Haneda Airport; these trains arrive at Haneda Airport International Terminal in 13 minutes, Haneda Airport Terminal 1 in 16 minutes, and Haneda Airport Terminal 2 in 18 minutes.[22]


Stops at this station
| Skips this station
No. Name Japanese Distance (km) Haneda Express Rapid Connections and notes[22] Location
MO01 Monorail Hamamatsuchō モノレール浜松町 0.0 JK Keihin–Tōhoku Line
JY Yamanote Line
A Asakusa Line (via Daimon Station)
E Ōedo Line (via Daimon Station)
MO02 Tennōzu Isle 天王洲アイル 4.0 | R Rinkai Line Shinagawa
MO03 Ōi Keibajō-mae 大井競馬場前 7.1 |
MO04 Ryūtsū Center 流通センター 8.7 | Ōta
MO05 Shōwajima 昭和島 9.9 | |
MO06 Seibijō 整備場 11.8 | |
MO07 Tenkūbashi 天空橋 12.6 | | KK Keikyū Airport Line
MO08 Haneda Airport International Terminal 羽田空港国際線ビル 14.0 KK Keikyū Airport Line
MO09 Shin-Seibijō 新整備場 16.1 | |
MO10 Haneda Airport Terminal 1 羽田空港第1ビル 16.9 KK Keikyū Airport Line
MO11 Haneda Airport Terminal 2 羽田空港第2ビル 17.8 KK Keikyū Airport Line

Rolling stock[edit]

Services are operated using six-car 1000 and 2000 series trains, running at speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph). Each car has a combination of aisle-facing bench seats, forward and rear-facing seats, and seats in the center of the aisle. The trains also feature extra space for hand luggage, as a convenience for air travelers. These trains are stored and maintained at Shōwajima Depot beside Shōwajima Station during off-service hours. The 1000 series trains were introduced from 1989, and the 2000 series trains were introduced from 1997.[23]

From 18 July 2014, the first of a fleet of new 10000 series 6-car trains was introduced, replacing the older 1000 series trains.[23][24]

Former rolling stock[edit]

Former rolling stock once used on Tokyo Monorail include the 100/200/300/350 series (from 1964 until 1978), 500 series (from 1969 until 1991), 600 series (from 1977 until 1997), and 700/800 series (from 1982 until 1998).


The line is operated by the Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd. (東京モノレール株式会社, Tōkyō Monorēru Kabushiki-gaisha). JR East acquired a majority share in the company in 2002, currently owning 79%; the remainder being divided between Hitachi (12%) and All Nippon Airways (9%).

Tokyo Monorail was originally one of the first "private" railways to use JR East's Suica fare card system. The Monorail is now fully integrated with both Suica and the new Pasmo fare card.

The first departure towards the airport leaves at 04:58 and the last departure is at 00:01. Towards Hamamatsuchō, the first departure is at 05:11 and the final departure is at 00:05 (final departure serving all stations at 23:38).

Passengers can ride the Tokyo Monorail with a JR Pass.[25]

Airport access[edit]

Passengers using the monorail to travel to the airport can take advantage of check-in facilities at Hamamatsuchō. Japan's domestic airlines (JAL, ANA, Skymark Airlines, and Air Do) have check-in counters and ticket machines right at the station. Tokyo Monorail tickets can also be purchased on the lower level of Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Itami Airport (also in Osaka), as well as Naha Airport in Okinawa and departure gate area at Hiroshima Airport.

An alternative to the monorail is the Keikyu Airport Line between the airport and Shinagawa Station. Both railways compete with bus services.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 会社概要 [Company Profile] (in Japanese). Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd. Archived from the original on May 12, 2019. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  2. ^ "Case Study: Heavy Duty Performance, Tokyo Monorail" (PDF). Hitachi Rail. 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Whiting, Robert (October 24, 2014). "Negative impact of 1964 Olympics profound". The Japan Times. p. 14. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Tokyo Monorail, Company Profile" (PDF). Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 11, 2019. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  5. ^ Kusamachi, Yoshikazu (March 25, 2018). 東京モノレール、なぜ浜松町発着? 北への延伸は「幻」に終わるか [Why does Tokyo Monorail end at Hamamatsuchō? Will the north extension remain a "vision"?]. Norimono News (in Japanese). Archived from the original on September 5, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  6. ^ Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd. Corporate History Editorial Committee (September 2014), 東京モノレール50年史 1964-2014 [Tokyo Monorail 50 Years History 1964-2014] (in Japanese), Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd.
  7. ^ Terada, Hirokazu (January 19, 2013). データブック日本の私鉄 [Databook: Japan's Private Railways] (in Japanese). Japan: Neko Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 978-4-7770-1336-4.
  8. ^ "Tokyo monorail wins its comeback fight". Business Week. No. 2131–2139. McGraw Hill. 1970. p. 56.
  9. ^ "Tokyo Monorial Service Opened". Railway Gazette: 793. October 2, 1964.
  10. ^ "Tokyo monorail opened". The Railway Magazine. No. 763. November 1964. p. 862.
  11. ^ a b c 東京モノレール50年 車窓から見た湾岸開発史. Nihon Keizai Shimbun (in Japanese). September 5, 2014. Archived from the original on September 5, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  12. ^ Kamizawa, Hiroyuki (14 February 2015). (東京五輪物語)浜松町-羽田モノレール開通 空港まで15分、突貫工事 [(Tokyo Olympics Story) Hamamatsucho–Haneda Monorail opens, airport in 15 minutes, construction rushed]. Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  13. ^ 東京モノレール開業 [Tokyo Monorail Opens]. Mainichi Shimbun. September 17, 1964. Archived from the original on June 7, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  14. ^ Imoto, Keisuke (December 16, 2010). "羽田空港の歴史". 地図. pp. 11–13. Archived from the original on August 29, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  15. ^ "1.5 billionth rides monorail to Haneda". The Japan Times. The Japan Times Ltd. 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2007-01-24.
  16. ^ "東京モノレール/浜松町駅を複線化/事業費260億円、東京駅延伸も視野" [Tokyo Monorail: Double-tracking of Hamamatsucho Station - Project cost 26 billion yen, extension to Tokyo also eyed]. The Daily Engineering & Construction News. Japan: The Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shinbun. 24 June 2009.
  17. ^ 東京モノレールが「終点・東京駅」構想 [Plans for Tokyo Monorail to terminate at Tokyo Station]. News 24 (in Japanese). Japan: Nippon Television Network Corporation. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  18. ^ "Tokyo Monorail plans to extend". Railway Gazette. 22 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  19. ^ Google (January 6, 2020). "Hamamatsuchō Station" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  20. ^ Yamaguchi, Takuma; Nishino, Toru; Ueki, Naoji; Hirano, Syuji (2014). "Development of 10000 Series Rolling Stock for Tokyo Monorail" (PDF). Hitachi Review. 63 (10): 33–37. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Timetables / Fares / Access Information". Tokyo Monorail Co., Ltd. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  22. ^ a b 東京モノレール開業50年 新型車両、車内は「和風」 26年導入. MSN Sankei News (in Japanese). Japan: The Sankei Shimbun & Sankei Digital. 10 September 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-09-12. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  23. ^ 指原莉乃が出発進行!東京モノレールに新型車両、「和」デザイン [New Tokyo Monorail train with "Wa" design seen off by Rino Sashihara]. Sponichi Annex (in Japanese). Japan: Sports Nippon Newspapers. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  24. ^ "JR Pass".

Further reading[edit]

  • L.W. Demery, R. Forty, R. DeGroote and J.W. Higgins, Electric Railways of Japan (Interurbans- Tramways-Metros) Vol.1: Tokyo and Northern Japan. Light Rail Transit Association, 1983.
  • Kusamachi, Yoshikazu (June 2009). 再発見!! モノレールの魅力 [Rediscovering the fascination of monorails]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 49 no. 578. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. pp. 114–118.

External links[edit]