East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has been making its stations cleaner and safer so that customers feel they are reliable and secure, in accordance with one of its targets, “the improvement of customer satisfaction,” as part of the “JR East Vision towards 2020.”
In order to create next-generation stations to provide customers with service at a higher standard than ever before, JR East established its “Smart Station R&D facilities” in June 2010. The facility has almost the same space as an actual station.
It is truly necessary for railway companies to promote R&D by themselves since they know best what customers really need at stations due to their direct contact with them, which is extremely effective for making railways more competitive than other transport modes. By carrying out experiments in this facility, JR East is aims to optimise space for its customers in all of its various types of stations.
JR East intends to use this facility to carry out proof tests and overall evaluations in a continuous and efficient manner that cannot be done in actual stations or at its R&D centre. JR East also intends to step up its R&D efforts on stations, aiming to make the latter highly convenient and comfortable, more environmentally-friendly, as well as safer and more reliable. Examples of this include the use of robots, sensors to control lights and temperature in stations and using natural wind and sunlight for the station environment. With regard to the near future, JR East is starting to study and develop more available information services for customers on board, practical use of power-generating floors and more effective installation of see-through film solar cells in stations.
The “Smart Station” R&D facility is a three-story building with a total area of 1500㎡ and has, among other features, a passage, a ticket vending machine, a ticket gate, a concourse, an information panel, a staircase, an escalator, a 70m x 7m platform and a train. It is located in the JR East R&D centre in Saitama, north of Tokyo.
(Source: JR East)