All part of Japan’s dedication to “people friendly movement” in public spaces.

Inclined elevators are usually found on slopes in the great outdoors, where single cars ferry people up steep inclines on the sides of mountains and hillsides to areas that would otherwise be hard to access.

Now, the inclined elevator is being used to enhance accessibility inside a Tokyo train station for the very first time, making news when it opened to the public at Akasaka-mitsuke Station on 10 July this year.

▼ Operated by subway operator Tokyo Metro, Akasaka-mitsuke Station services the Ginza and Marunouchi subway lines.

This is the first time for an inclined elevator to appear at a train station in Tokyo, so we swung by to see it in action, finding it on the third floor basement level next to a set of stairs. While there are a number of elevators next to stairwells like these at stations throughout the city, they’re all vertical, unlike this one, which clearly travels on a slope, following the same incline as the stairs.

We visited outside of the peak travel period, and there weren’t many other commuters about so we were the only ones inside the elevator when we used it to travel from the third to second basement level.

From inside, we could clearly see the lift sliding along the tracks as it moved, inclining like a cable car with a smooth and steady action.

▼ It was a short ride, taking around 30 seconds to reach the second basement level.

According to rail staff, before this elevator was installed, an Escal wheelchair stair lift had been operating on the side of the stairs. However, that lift wasn’t ideal as it took a long time to use, due to the fact that it had to be operated by a staff member.

The new lift is a lot faster to use, and helps a wider number of commuters as it accommodates not only wheelchair users but also elderly people and those with prams and strollers.

When installing an ordinary vertical elevator, a vertical cavity needs to be created, requiring a fair amount of money and construction work. However, inclined elevators like this one utilise an already existing space, so no major excavation work is necessary.

It’s a win-win solution, not just for railway operators and rail staff, but most importantly for commuters, as they now all have equal access to the stairs at the station.

It’s nice to see an inclined elevator being put to good use inside a train station in the capital for the first time, and Tokyo Metro says it will consider installing more of these elevators at other stations in future.

It’s yet another great example of Japan’s attention to “people friendly movement” in public spaces, which includes mirrors in elevators and special red-and-yellow markings on train station stairways.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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