Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Steepest Railways in Japan and the World

Funicular "Momiji (maple)" stands at Kiyotaki Station on the Takao Tozan Railway

I received information from one of my blog readers, in which he introduced a steep railway in Australia. I have also ridden on it before. It is Katoomba Scenic Railway in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. This funicular is the steepest railway in the world at inclines of up to 52 degrees.

Katoomba Scenic Railway was originally constructed for a coal mining operation. It was a cable-driven funicular and remained as a sightseeing railway after the mine was closed in 1945. Its operating length is 310 m.

When I visited there in 1981, I was still a student. It was very exciting to ride an open-top passenger car in a rustic atmosphere. After going down the steep track, I reached a scenic spot to view the Three Sisters (oddly-shaped rocks) in a rain forest. According to the railway's website, the passenger cars have already been changed to modern ones, but it must have kept the fantastic surrounding as it was.

A worthy rival of Katoomba Scenic Railway in Japan is Takao Tozan Railway in Tokyo Metropolis. It was opened in 1927 and its line length is 1,020 m. This funicular is Japan's steepest cable-driven railway at inclines of up to 31 degrees. You can experience the maximum inclination in a dark tunnel. So, it is much more thrilling than most passengers imagine before boarding.

Katoomba Scenic Railway, NSW, Australia (February, 1981)