Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 43 • 44 (pp.2–4 & 104–106)

Photostory: Railway Museums around the World

Railway Museums in UK

National Railway Museum in York and its annex Locomotion at Shildon

Britain as the birthplace of railways has numerous railway museums and preserved railways. The National Railway Museum (NRM) is no doubt the best known among them with a rich collection of rolling stock. In 2004, the NRM opened an annex at Shildon, some 100 km north of York, to display a substantial part of its collection. Shildon is known as the site of locomotive workshop for Stockton & Darlington Railway (SDR), the world's first railway built by George Stephenson. The annex was nicknamed Locomotion, after the name of Stephenson's steam engine used for freight haulage on the SDR. See also pp. 34–45.

Photos: The NRM's Great Hall with the world's fastest steam locomotive Mallard and Series Zero shinkansen EMU (left). The NRM collection in its new annex Locomotion at Shildon includes a large number of freight wagons (right).

STEAM: Museum of the Great Western Railway at Swindon

Swindon is located some 120 km west of London. It was once known as one of the largest railway towns in Britain, with a huge complex including workshops and rolling stock depots for the Great Western Railway (GWR). All such railway facilities were closed in 1986 as the result of railway modernization, and the city of Swindon has opened a new railway museum, using the remaining buildings of GWR works. The museum's whole exhibitions are focused on the workers dedicated their lives to the railway and people who travelled by GWR trains.

Photos: A scene of goods station in prewar days reproduced at Swindon's STEAM museum (left). Wartime locomotive repair shop at Swindon with a female worker substituting male workers called into the army (right).

Railway Museums in Other European Countries

Germany: Nuremberg, Berlin and Munich

The German railway company DB runs a fine railway museum at Nuremberg, the birthplace of Germany's railways (see pp. 17–23). Berlin's German Technical Museum is a comprehensive museum dedicated for the history of industrial technologies with a good collection of railway items (see also pp. 24–28). Munich's Deutsches Museum, one of the best museum of science and technology alongside the Science Museum in London, also boasts its rich railway collection including the world's first electric locomotive built by Werner von Siemens (1816–92).

Photos: Both DB Museum at Nuremberg and German Technical Museum in Berlin show their deep reflections on WWII, by displaying the image of a ruined station (Nuremberg, left) or freight wagon that deported Jewish prisoners to concentration camps (Berlin, right)
Photos: The raillway hall at the Munich's Deutsches Museum (left). Siemens's first electric locomotive is now displayed in an annex called Verkehrszentrum (Transport Centre), linked to the main museum by shuttle buses.

France and Switzerland

French Railway Museum in Mulhouse is reopened as Cité du Train in 2005 after major extension and refurbishment works. In the newly built annex, some unforgettable scenes from French railway history are reproduced with sound-and-light effects (see pp. 29–33). Swiss Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz) in Lucerne covers all modes of transport, but its collection of early electric locomotives and mountain railway vehicles are very impressive.

Photos: An aerial view of newly enlarged French Railway Museum now called Cité du Train (Mulhouse, left), and an early steam-powered rack-and-pinion mountain railway vehicle Swiss Transport Museum (Lucerne, right)
(Cité du Train & T. SUGA)

Railway Museums in USA

B & O Railroad Museum and Steam Town National Historic Site

The United States has some unique and excellent railway museums. Located at the birthplace of American railroads, Baltimore & Ohio (B & O) Railroad Museum (in Baltimore) is by far the best and largest on the East Coast. However, the Steam Town National Historic Site also attracts many people with a rich collection of rolling stock and preserved former Lackawanna & Western Railroad's depot and yard at Scranton PA. See also JRTR 31 presenting California State Railroad Museum.

Photos: B & O Railroad Museum's symbolic round house (left), and its collection of early American locomotives (right)
Photos: Union Pacific Class 4000 Big Boy preserved at Steam Town National Historic Site (left). Visitors can enjoy a short journey hauled by preserved steam locomotive (right).

National Museum of American History and NYC Transit Museum

In Washington DC, the National Museum of American History has a corner of American transport history, focusing on the impact of railroads on the society and people's every day line. In New York, the Transit Museum shows a vivid history of NY subways, using a disused subway station's concourse and platform in Brooklyn.

Photos: Steam locomotive displayed at National Museum of American History (left) and NYC Transit Museum in Brooklyn(right).

Railway Museums in Japan

Nostalgic Photographs of Transportation Museum, Tokyo

Tokyo's Transportation Museum is to be closed on 14 May, 2006. Taking over the railway museum run by the Ministry of Railways in prewar days, the museum played a significant educational role in postwar Japan. Selected photographs of the late 1950s shown here demonstrate how popular the museum was in those days. See also pp. 6–15.

Photos: Exhibition hall filled up with groups of school children
(Transportation Museum)
Photo: Chartered buses for school tours parking in front of the museum
(Transportation Museum)

JRTR 21 Photostory introduced Transportation Museum, Modern Transportation Museum, and Usui Pass Railway Monument Park, while one of the feature articles in JRTR 31 presented Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum. The following two pages present other major railway museums in Japan, based mainly on the former JNR rolling stock.

Otaru Transportation Museum & Mikasa Railway Museum

These two museums are built on the both ends of the Horonai Railway, Hokkaido's first railway line completed in 1882 by the American engineer Joseph Crowford. Both museums boast rich collection of former JNR vehicles (the Mikasa museum also preserves vehicles from private industrial railways in the region). The Otaru museum preserves Japan's oldest existing locomotive shed that was designated by the government as important cultural property (see JRTR 30 Photostory). Run by the related local authorities, both museums are facing financial difficulties, and the Otaru museum is to be closed temporarily from April 2006 for one year for major management restructuring.

Photo: One of American-built Horonai Railway locomotive preserved at Otaru Transportation Museum.
(T. Suga)
Photo: A former industrial steam locomotive preserved in working order at Mikasa Railway Museum.
(T. Suga)

Sakuma Rail Park and Kyushu Railway History Museum

Sakuma Rail Park at Chubu Tenryu Station on Iida Line was founded by JR Central in 1991, with a collection of two electric locomotives, carriages, DMUs and EMUs used by the former JNR and JR Central. Some 200 km west of Tokyo and 100 km east of Nagoya in a straight line, the location is not favourable to attract many visitors, but JR East operates excursion trains between Toyohashi and Chubu Tenryu on weekends in tourist seasons.
Kyushu Railway History Museum was opened in 2003 by the side of Mojiko Station, the northern end of Kyushu's first railway opened in 1891, by the municipality of Kita Kyushu. JR Kyushu provided a collection of former JNR rolling stock and an old red-brick building for the main hall of the museum.

Photo: Former JNR rolling stock preserved at Sakuma Rail Park.
(T. Suga)
Photo: Former JNR steam locomotives preserved at Kyushu Railway History Museum.
(T. Suga)

Kaya Steam Locomotive Square and Japan Freight Railway Museum

Kaya Steam Locomotive Square is a unique open-air museum in northern Kyoto Prefecture founded by Kaya Kosan Company that formerly ran 5.7-km Kaya Railway since 1925. The railway was closed in 1985, but the company decided to open a museum to commemorate the short line that was so much loved by people and so much contributed to local economy by transporting nickel ores. The museum was supported by many volunteers including retired Kaya railway employees and enthusiasts. The collection includes the company's No. 2 steam locomotive, a British-built engine originally imported by the government railways for Osaka–Kobe line opened in 1874. This 1873 Robert Stephenson engine was recently designated by the government as important cultural property.
Japan Freight Railway Museum is another unique museum in northern Mie Prefecture, with a collection of various freight wagons. Opened in 2003 to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Japan's rail freight transport, the museum is wholly funded and run by volunteers, although the private Sangi Railway Company provided the museum site and a building at Nyugawa Station (50 km west of Nagoya). The collection consists of a dozen of wagons restored by the volunteers, one British-built steam locomotive and one small diesel shunting engine.

Photo: British-built No. 2 locomotive at Kaya Steam Locomotive Square.
(Y. Kishi)
Photo: Japan Freight Railway Museum at Sangi Railway Nyugawa Station.
(T. Suga)

A New Railway Museum to be Opened in 2007 in Saitama City by East Japan Railway Culture Foundation

JR East has announced to close the Transportation Museum in Tokyo in May 2006 and to open a new railway museum in Saitama City, 30 km north of Tokyo, in October 2007. The new museum, of which artist's impressions are shown below, is being built and to be operated by East Japan Railway Culture Foundation (EJRCF). The exhibition area will be twice as large as the current Transportation Museum, enabling to display around 35 real rail vehicles.

Photos: (EJRCF)