Transportation Bureau City of Sendai

100-2,499 Employees

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The Namboku subway line is used by approximately 60 million customers every year.


Improved Customer Service
Increased Productivity
Reduce Cost


Fabric Networking Solution Enhances the Passenger Experience in Sendai

Since 1926, the Transportation Bureau Sendai City has run the city’s public transport – starting with streetcars and today focusing on bus services and subways. Its Namboku subway line plays a vital role in the lives of the people of Sendai metropolitan district and the local economy, and is used by approximately 60 million customers every year.

The Transportation Bureau is currently investing in a new subway line – the Tozai line – to serve the rapidly growing urban population. At the same time, it’s investing in a range of improvements to the customer experience – from enhanced station facilities and renovated subway cars, to a barrier-free approach at ticket gates. This latter development not only makes subway travel easier for the elderly and less mobile, but also increases convenience.

From December 2014, the majority of ticket gates on the Namboku line will be replaced with gates that support integrated circuit (IC) ticketing – essentially a smartcard system. These new gates will also be used on the Tozai line.

Transportation Bureau City of Sendai

The Network: the Key to the Solution

The ticket gate machines themselves are supplied by Nippon Signal Co. Ltd – a specialist in railway signal technology and systems. But for the solution to work, it needs more than the card readers: it also requires an exceptionally reliable and fast communications network, so the information can be sent from ticket gates to a central hub. To provide that network, Nippon Signal proposed Avaya’s pioneering Fabric Connect network virtualisation technology.

Fabric Connect is part of the Avaya Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA), an over-arching toolkit of networking technologies, and is a highly advanced solution that makes full use of the Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) protocol. Standardized by both the IEEE and the IETF, SPB differs from traditional networking protocols that restrict paths across the network to reduce the risk of loops. Shortest Path Bridging allows traffic to take the shortest possible path across an infrastructure – delivering outstanding speed and performance. Furthermore, it constantly refreshes network topology through a process of ‘self-discovery’, so traffic is instantly routed around any failed point or bottleneck. To ensure total redundancy, the Transportation Bureau has stipulated that the network be a duplex link design: with Fabric Connect, switchover to the alternative route takes place within 200 milliseconds.

Reducing Deployment Time and Cost

As well as offering benefits in terms of speed and reliability, Fabric Connect also transforms deployment. Rather than having to configure all switches from the edge to the core, with Fabric Connect services and devices can be provisioned at the edge of the network, with minimal configuration effort – invaluable for an infrastructure with as many dispersed points of presence as a subway line. In fact, the choice of Fabric Connect has helped reduce overall deployment time and cost – and will mean that ongoing management and maintenance costs are kept low, as equipment can be replaced at the edge without any disruption to service.

“Avaya Fabric Connect is based on an IEEE standard for network virtualisation, and we chose to deploy it because of its ability to respond flexibly to future demands – including those we cannot yet predict.”

Nippon Signal Co. Ltd

Supporting Surveillance

There are two further advantages of Fabric Connect for the Transportation Bureau. Firstly, being a full-featured network virtualisation technology, it allows for the creation of multiple virtual service networks on the same physical infrastructure. This effectively means that each mission-critical application can operate on a logically separate network, ensuring quality of service is maintained. Secondly, Fabric Connect is proven to support IP Multicast – so can be used to connect the security cameras monitoring the subway trains and stations around Sendai.

Unlike most legacy IP Multicast networks, which struggle to deliver the performance needed and often require the use of unicast for some users, Fabric Connect has a track record of connecting thousands of networked cameras. What’s more, additional cameras can be easily added without affecting performance.

Ready for Future Needs

These many benefits made Fabric Connect the ideal choice for the brand new Tozai line, but also to facilitate the introduction of IC ticketing on the existing Namboku line. Not only does it meet the immediate requirements of a rapid, reliable network to support the ticketing system and a suitable platform for video surveillance, but it does so in a highly cost-effective way – minimising configuration effort and allowing accelerated deployment. Crucially too, the capacity within the Fabric Connect infrastructure, and the ability to support multiple virtual service networks, means that the Transportation Bureau has invested in an infrastructure that is ready to meet future demands – whatever they may be.


The Namboku subway line is used by approximately 60 million customers every year.

Transportation Bureau City of Sendai
  • Headquarters:

  • Japan

  • # Employees:

  • 1089

Sendai is a city with a population of one million, and is the political and economic center of Japan’s Tohoku (northeast) Region. Although Sendai is a large city, it is known throughout Japan for its tree-lined streets and parks, which have led to Sendai being known as the “City of Trees.” Learn more at

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  • Nippon Signal Co. Ltd