JAPAN: Tokyo Metro has started running through services onto the 2·1 km Kita-Ayase branch of the capital’s Chiyoda Line, in order to serve a developing area in the northeast of the city.

The branch running north from Ayase station, where the Chiyoda Line connects end-on with JR East’s Joban Line, is mainly used to access the metro’s Ayase depot, which opened in December 1979. Kita-Ayase station opened at the same time, a short distance south of the depot, but was only served by a shuttle service from Ayase, as the platform at the terminus could only accommodate a three-car EMU. Tokyo Metro retains a fleet of four Series 05 sets specifically for this operation.

Kita-Ayase station has now been rebuilt with the platform lengthened by 135 m to accommodate a full-length 10-car Series 16000 trainset. A new station entrance has been provided, together with a lift for improved accessibility. This has allowed the introduction of through trains with effect from March 16, avoiding the need for passengers to change at Ayase.

Branch services now run through from Kita-Ayase to Yoyogi Uehara at the western end of the Chiyoda Line, interspersed with services from Toride on the Joban Line to provide a higher frequency in the city centre.