Thursday, 15 August 2013

Preserved Railway in the Akasawa Forest

"Torokko"  train arrives at Forest Railway Museum Station on the Akasawa Forest Railway
Kiso is a mountainous area in the southwestern part of Nagano Prefecture. It takes about two hours from Nagoya City by the JR Central's Chuo Line trains. Forestry is a major industry in the area.

The forest railway had been used to support the logging of cedar forests in the region. The first line was opened in 1916. Since then, the labyrinthine network had been constructed back to back. It had become an extensive network, whose peak total operating length was 400km; however, it had been abolished by 1976 due to the evolution of truck transport.

In 1987, rail fans heard one piece of happy news. A part of the ex-forest railway was re-opened as a preserved railway in the Akasawa forest. Currently, a total route of 1.1km is operated between Forest Railway Museum and Maruyama-watashi stations on the weekend.

The forest train consists of a lovely diesel locomotive (DL), type AFT and five small passenger coaches. The type AFT DL was manufactured in 1996 by Hokuriku Heavy Industries, Ltd. A 132ps engine was equipped, and its maximum design speed is 40km/h. The track gauge of the line is 610mm.

Passenger coaches are the so-called "torokko" type. Torokko is characterized by a lack of windows on both sides of the coaches. So, passengers can admire the outside view, such as beautiful forests and fresh streams without looking through windows.

The torokko train on the preserved railway is the star of the Akasawa forest.

Rail fans and the "torokko" train on the Akasawa Forest Railway