The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

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Monday, September 30, 2002

Japanese Monorail Dreams and Schemes (Monorail 20)

From the Cabalmaster:

Other plans from the formative years of monorail technology in Japan included short excursion lines at Arashiyama (west of Kyoto), Atami (southwest of Tokyo), Hiroshima, and Shingu (on the Kii Peninsula between Nagoya and Osaka).

A few short lines were planned in the Tokyo region. One of these was to connect the Tokyo Monorail terminal at Hamamatsu-cho with Tokyo Tower. Another was planned in Narita, to connect Narita station with the Shinshoji Temple (Shingon Buddhist) -- a market once served by a small streetcar line.

Long-distance monorail plans were also floated. The Nagoya Railroad considered a 20-mile line extending southwest from Gifu to Yoro, with a 7-mile branch from Usa to Hashima. An estimate, probably dating to the early 1960s, for the cost of 12-miles of double-beam line: $22.5 million, or nearly $2 million per mile ($130 million, or $11 million per mile, in today's dollars). This proposal evidently envisioned construction along the Nagara River, and seems the classic "solution in search of a problem." One of the planned markets was Gifu to Gifu-Hashima shinkansen station. The Tokaido Shinkansen bypassed Gifu some distance to the west. For political reasons, a station named Gifu-Hashima was built within Gifu Prefecture. But Gifu is just 19 miles from Nagoya, which has many more shinkansen services than Gifu-Hashima does. Hence, Gifu passengers preferred Nagoya -- which the Nagoya Railway certainly didn't mind given its overwhelming dominance between Gifu and Nagoya. The area around Gifu-Hashima shinkansen developed very slowly, and not until 1982 did the Nagoya Railway see fit to build a 0.9-mile spur from an existing line to Gifu-Hashima.

Another Nagoya Railroad monorail idea was to build 13 miles between Yagoto, in southeastern Nagoya, eastward to Toyota city, an automaking center. The problem was long-standing: lack of a rail line extending due eastward from Nagoya. Monorail was not the solution eventually chosen. A conventional rail line was built as a joint project by the Nagoya Railroad and Nagoya municipal authorities. The subway Tsurumai Line extends from central Nagoya to the city limit at Akaike; from here, the Nagoya Railroad Toyota New Line extends to Toyota city. The project was completed in 1979. Later, the subway was extended northward to a connection with the Nagoya Railroad Inuyama Line, provided a much-needed alternate route through central Nagoya.

The Nippon Airways Development firm proposed two Safege monorail lines extending from Otemachi, near Tokyo station: one 14 miles west to Mitaka, the other 31 miles east to Chiba and Goi. These were apparently proposed for construction along toll expressways.

Monorail proposals were floated for a number of cities, including Fukuoka, Gifu, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Sendai, Shizuoka, Tomakomai (Hokkaido) and Tokyo. A proposed circular monorail for Tokyo was to parallel much of the Yamanote Line, for much of the distance along Meiji-dori, a peripheral road once served by Tokyo's longest trolleybus services. Fukuoka, Kobe, Kyoto and Sendai built subways, Nagoya and Tokyo continued subway expansion, and Kitakyushu eventually built the first "urban" monorail in Japan. This was not the start of a Japanese monorail "revival," as some monorail buffs claim, but the first application of monorail after the initial period of development and refinement.

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