Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 30 (pp.2 & 57-59)

Photostory

Railway Heritage in Japan (part 1)

Bridges, viaducts and other railway facilities (1)

There is growing awareness in recent years about the importance of ‘modern heritage’ created by Japan's modernization and industrialization from the mid-19th century. Some interesting and important railway facilities are classified as ‘important cultural properties’ by the Japanese government. Less important items are designated as ‘registered cultural properties.’ Both include railway facilities still in use.
The railway facilities at Temiya in Otaru City, Hokkaido were recently designated as important cultural property. The buildings and structures including Japan's oldest existing roundhouse built in 1885 and a turntable (top left), water tank (top right), etc., demonstrate the ingenuity of this terminus for Hokkaido's first railway built under the supervision of American engineer Joseph U. Crowford.
The railway facilities at Usui Pass, 120-km northwest of Tokyo, include five brick viaducts (bottom right), ten tunnels with brick portals and linings, and two brick buildings that used to house substations (bottom left). The viaducts and tunnels were completed in 1893 when the Shin'etsu main line was opened with an Abt rack-and-pinion system to overcome steep grades.

Photo: (Matsuida Board of Education)
Photo: (Matsuida Board of Education)
Photo: (Otaru Board of Education)
Photo: (Otaru Board of Education)

Bridges, viaducts and other railway facilities (2)

The lift bridge (top left) over the Chikugo-gawa estuary, Kyushu's largest river, used to carry the rural single-track Saga Line opened in 1935 when the river had busy water traffic. The line was closed in 1987 just before the JNR privatization because it suffered from low traffic (middle left), and the bridge was transformed into a tourist promenade (top right). As a registered cultural property, the 24-m, 48-tonne central girder is lifted through 23 m eight times a day (except Mondays), although there has been no large shipping traffic for many years.
Tenryu Futamata Station on Tenryu Hamanako Railway, the former JNR Futamata Line transferred to local communities and now running as a so-called third-sector railway, still maintains the atmosphere of a typical prewar rural railway. Four wooden buildings including a roundhouse (bottom left), locomotive depot office (bottom right), etc., and turntable (bottom left) are registered cultural properties.

Photo: (Morotomi Town Office)
Photo: (Morotomi Town Office)
Photo: (Morotomi Town Office)
Photo: (Tenryu Hamanako Railway)
Photo: (Tenryu Hamanako Railway)

Bridges, viaducts and other railway facilities (3)

The former JNR Shihoro Line was a rural railway in Hokkaido opened between 1925 and 1939. Due to the remote location and wartime shortages, the engineers preferred concrete arches to steel girders. Although the line was closed in 1987 just before the JNR privatization, some notable concrete arch viaducts completed around 1937 are registered cultural properties. The Jusannosawa Viaduct (top left) shows a typical arch viaduct structure, while Daisan Otofukegawa Viaduct (top right) boasts a wider span. The Isamigawa Viaduct (middle left) looks like a tunnel portal due to its small span.
The 147-m long and 21.6-m high Koshikawa Viaduct (bottom right) near the eastern end of Hokkaido is proud of its imposing appearance with ten arches. When completed in 1940, the viaduct was supposed to carry a rural railway called the Konpoku Line, but wartime financial difficulties and the postwar shift to motor transport prevented completion of the line. In 1973, two central spans were removed for widening of a national highway (bottom left). It is now preserved as a registered cultural property.

Photo: (Higashi Taisetsu Arch Tomo no Kai)
Photo: (Higashi Taisetsu Arch Tomo no Kai)
Photo: (Higashi Taisetsu Arch Tomo no Kai)
Photo: (Shiretoko Museum)
Photo: (Shiretoko Museum)

Bridges, viaducts and other railway facilities (4)

Hakone Tozan Railway is a 15-km single-track line from Odawara on the Tokaido Shinkansen to Gora in the Hakone mountains. Serving one of Japan's best mountain resort areas, the railway is Japan's most steeply graded line (over 80 per mill or 1 in 12). The Hayakawa Bridge is now preserved as a registered cultural property and still carries many tourist trains (top and middle right). It was designed by a British engineer, C. W. P. Pownall, and was first used as one of the 19 spans of the Tenryu-gawa Bridge (completed in 1888) on the government railways’ Tokaido main line. Imported from Britain, it is a unique structure with steel chord members and wrought-iron web members. Completed in 1917, he Hayakawa Bridge required a huge scaffold to support the girder during the construction (top left).
The Suehiro Bridge in Yokkaichi City, an industrial port town near Nagoya in central Honshu, is a bascule bridge over a canal. Completed in 1931, it is composed of four steel plate girders, one of which is lifted to enable free passage of water transport (bottom left); it drops to allow freight trains to cross the canal (bottom right). It is classified by the government as an important cultural property.

Photo: (Hakone Tozan Railway)
Photo: (Hakone Tozan Railway)
Photo: (Hakone Tozan Railway)
Photo: (Yokkaichi City Office)
Photo: (Y. Manabe)

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