Saturday, 1 December 2012

Mass Transit Funicular in Hakone Mountains

Funicular HT1 set (Ke101 and 201) leaves Gora Station on the Hakone Cable Car Line

As I mentioned before, Hakone is a very popular sightseeing area in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is said that 19 million tourists visit this mountain resort per year, since they can enjoy the nature and the hot springs less than two hours from the heart of the city. Hakone is always busy with visitors, but especially in spring because of the fresh greenery and in autumn because of the crimson leaves.

The main sightseeing route in Hakone runs from Hakone Yumoto to Lake Ashinoko, starting with the Hakone Tozan Railway, which takes passengers up to Gora Station in 40 minutes. Then, most of the tourists change to the funicular, "Hakone Cable Car" to climb up to the higher altitude.

Connecting Gora and Sounzan stations, the Hakone Cable Car was opened in 1921. One of the features of this funicular is 4 intermediate stations. They are Koen-shimo, Koen-kami, Naka-Gora and Kami-Gora, which are not only for sightseers but also for local residents.

To transport flocking passengers, the operating company introduced 2 sets of Swiss made 2-car trains, HT1 and HT2 in 1995 (see the photos). Thanks to the mass transit vehicles, one train can accommodate 251 passengers. Currently, trains are operated every 15 minutes on average; therefore, they can transport more than 10,000 tourists per day to the mountain paradise.

After getting off the funicular at Sounzan, it is about half an hour to Togendai at Ashinoko lakeside by the Hakone Ropeway (see my blog on November 5th, 2012).

Funicular HT2 set (Ke102 and 202) passes through the middle point on the Hakone Cable Car Line