Tokyo Monorail (東京モノレール) is a monorail system connecting Tokyo International Airport to Hamamatsucho Station in downtown Tokyo, Japan. The trains operate along an elevated line that follows the coast of Tokyo Bay. The trip from the airport to Hamamatsucho is 21 minutes long, and costs ¥470 each way.
The line opened in 1964 to coincide with the 1964 Summer Olympics. The first cars were made in Japan from the German ALWEG design (also used in the Seattle Monorail), and were replaced by newer models in 1969, 1977, 1982, and 1989.
Originally, the monorail only served Hamamatsucho and the airport. The first station added in between was the Oi Race Track in 1965, followed by Seibijo in 1967. Nowadays, the line serves nine stations and handles about 300,000 passengers every weekday, operating from 5:30 AM to midnight with over 500 trains; it is often cited as the busiest and most profitable monorail line in the world.
Japanese National Railways, the parastatal predecessor of JR, operated the monorail until 1981, when it was privatized. To date, over 1 billion passengers have used the monorail: however, in recent years, it has become less popular because of competition from the Keihin Kyuko Railway. The East Japan Railway Company (JR East) purchased the line in 2002 and is currently studying a possible extension to Shinbashi. Presently, JR East owns 70% of the stock in the company;
Hitachi, Ltd. owns 12%; and Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways each own 9%.
The six-car trains ("2000 Series") run at speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph), although, counting stops, they average around 45 km/h (30 mph). Each car has a combination of aisle-facing bench seats, forward and rear-facing seats, and seats in the center of the aisle facing the windows. The trains also feature extra space for hand luggage, as a convenience for air travelers.
Passengers using the monorail to travel to the airport can take advantage of city air terminal facilities at Hamamatsucho. Japan's domestic airlines (JAL, ANA, Skymark Airlines, and Air Do) all have check-in counters and ticket machines right at the station. Tokyo Monorail tickets can also be purchased on the lower level of Kansai International Airport in Osaka, as a convenience for Osaka-Tokyo passengers.
A 1-station, 0.9-km extension to Haneda's new Terminal 2 opened on December 1, 2004.