Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Stadium of Stars on the Akasawa Forest Railway

Unit number 136 of the diesel locomotive type F4 is preserved in Akasawa Forest Railway Museum
When I visited the Kiso area last month, one of my purposes was to see the star-filled night sky. It is said that Kiso is one of the most beautiful night sky areas in Japan, as it is located in a sparsely populated countryside which is high above sea level. A lot of space enthusiasts visit this area throughout the year.

Unfortunately, it was slightly overcast when I stayed at a hotel nearby Akasawa Forest Railway station. It was far from perfect, but I could see the beautiful Milky Way backed by southern constellations. It was a memorable night.

In the meantime, I am going to show you the other locomotive, which used to be operated on the Akasawa Forest Railway. It is a diesel locomotive (DL), unit number 136 of the Type F4 (F4-136). This DL was manufactured in 1956 by Sakai Seisakusho. After being operated on Hokkaido Island, it was moved to the Kiso area in 1962. A magnificent full-scale DL with B-B type bogies and dual-cab is attractive for rail fans.

The F4-136 had been operated until 1976 on the forest railways in the Kiso area; but it didn't have many lines because of its complex mechanism. Maintenance and inspection seemed to be difficult for engineers on the small forest railway.

Currently, the F4-136 is exhibited in the Forest Railway Museum adjacent to the track of Akasawa Forest Railway. I hope that it will be revived and operated again someday.

The Milky Way backed by southern constellations