New Keisei Skyliner To Heat Up Narita Competition

TOKYO (Nikkei)–Keisei Electric Railway Co. will offer faster rail access to Narita International Airport starting this fiscal year, a move that will heat up the already-stiff competition over jet-setting customers.

The firm’s new Skyliner service will whisk passengers from Nippori, Tokyo, to Narita’s No. 2 terminal in Chiba Prefecture in just 36 minutes — 15 minutes faster than the current Skyliner.

The new train, which will have a top speed of 160km per hour, will take a more direct route to the airport. For part of the way, it will ride on the tracks of the Narita rapid railway, which likewise will be launched this fiscal year.

Meanwhile, East Japan Railway Co. will roll out its remodeled Narita Express train cars by October. The service provides connections between the airport and major Tokyo stations in as little as 53 minutes.

The Narita Express is more expensive than the Skyliner, but has won more passengers thanks to stops at the popular stations of Yokohama and Shinjuku.

In fiscal 2006, an average of 6,300 people came to the airport daily via the Narita Express, while 4,800 arrived by the Skyliner, according to the airport’s operator.

Altogether, some 100,000 people journey to Narita airport each day. Of these, 30% take trains, 26% ride buses and 23% arrive by car.

While the rail action is heating up, “(Taking a bus) is much easier because passengers don’t have to troop around with luggage as much,” said an official at Airport Transport Service Co., a bus operator.

(The Nikkei May 21 morning edition)

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