I just learned of the existence of the Himeji Monorail, from my housemates who spotted it today when walking around after a castle visit. Japanese Wikipedia has a decent article on it. It opened in 1966, but shut down in 1974. While it was a novelty, it was so expensive that “two people could ride the bus and have change left over” for the same money, on top of fulfilling no practical need in a small city with a decent bus system and low traffic density. After the novelty factor wore off, ridership declined precipitously and it was left running in the red. The final nail in the common was the withdrawal of Lockheed, who had manufactured the system, from the monorail industry. This made further maintenance impractical, particulalry for a money-bleeding system. After years of “suspended” service, it was officially decomissioned in 1979, but most of the ruins survive.
The car depot/terminal station, which still has all the original cars in it, is currently closed to the general public but is scheduled to be converted into a museum by 2011.
This Japanese page has a bit more info on it, but this one has an excellent collection of images, including original tickets.
One thought on “The Himeji Monorail”
I lived in Mega (outside Himeji) for one year (mid 1965 to mid 1966) and rode the monorail several times out to the park. A lovely Sunday afternoon.
Too bad it didn’t stay in operation, but I was glad to see the footage and the cars in the barn.
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