Friday, April 11, 2008

day 104 - Himeji Monorail (continued)

The Himeji Monorail went from the Daishogun Station (just west of the current JR station) to Tegarayama, only 1.5 km away. Tegara Hill has a WW2 monument, aquatic centre and  amusement park, so it was a logical choice for a Brave New World form of travel in 1965.
Completed in 1966 at a cost of  1.8 thousand million Yen, the monorail carried 1000 passengers a day at 15 minute intervals! But the novelty wore off and, like so much public transport, services were curtailed and the system fell into a spiral of downward patronage and upward operating costs and interest repayments.
By 1970 a new mayor vowed to close the line. Operation was suspended in 1974 and the whole system was decommissioned in 1979. The city announced in '91 that the track would be dismantled, but the huge columns and beams were built to last and no administration has bitten the bullet and voted for yet more expenditure for demolition.
So the bits gone are the ones that obstructed new constructions.
It's sad and ironic that people still come here to see the magnificent castle supported by wooden piers and beams (and celebrating its 400th birthday this year), yet the amazing engineering that went into a monorail only provided transport for a mere eight years.
(Thanks Leroy for the facts & figures.)

1. The former Daishogun Station. It goes in...

2. ...but it doesn't come out.

3. The shinkansen (bullet train) overpass just fits over the top.

4. Cut off... Obviously it got in the way of this bridge. (That's my bike cut off too.)

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