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Underground Tokyo (1)

By: Floro Mercene

TOKYO is one of the world’s mega cities, home to 13 million people. It is so crammed with buildings that for a century the city has been making use of underground space. Visitors to Tokyo may be surprised to find the city has extensively developed underground spaces in addition to a large number of underground train lines with whole shopping malls complete with restaurants and everything.

Underground space is used in many different ways; an intricate far-flung web of subways, road tunnels, underground shopping malls, and underground utility conduit jointly operated by gas, water, and telecommunication companies.

Tokyo’s development underground kicked off in 1927 with the opening of what is today called the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, which initially connected Asakusa Station to Ueno. At that time, Tokyo suffered from terrible road congestion causing street cars to run chronically behind schedule. So, it became essential to move the track underground creating subways that would be unaffected by surface traffic. By 1930, the first underground shops had opened around Ueno Station.

From then on more and more subway lines were built. The Tokyo subway system is one of the world’s largest underground transit networks. Currently there are 13 subway lines crisscrossing the city with a total of approximately 300 kilometers of track. More than 8 million passengers use them each day.

Later, lines had to be built deeper to avoid existing lines Eventually Tokyo’s steepest subway lines would run more than 40 meters beneath the ground. The subway lines dodge, dip and rise above each other underground, while also avoiding other facilities such as electricity, gas and sewage pipes, as well as communications cables and underground parking lot. The deepest station on the Toei Oedo Line, which began full operation in 2000, is Roppongi Station, which is 42 meters below ground. (To be continued)