Monday, 22 August 2016

Sightseeing Train in Kurobe Gorge

A sightseeing train passes through Shin-Yamabiko Railway Bridge 

It is mid-summer in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Most people go out to the suburbs to cool off at the weekend, and I am one of them. This year's destination was Toyama Prefecture, about 350 km northwest of Tokyo.

One of the reputable sightseeing spots is Kurobe Gorge in the eastern part of the prefecture. It has been an important area for electric power development since the 1920s. What the electric power company did first was to construct a railway (present Kurobe Kyokoku Railway) in the gorge for material transportation. Thanks to the railway, dams and electric power stations were completed one after another. 

Currently, the importance of the electric power development has decreased in Kurobe Gorge, because use of the other electric sources, such as nuclear and thermal power generations, have increased. The accelerating trend for environmental protection has also negatively affected the electric power development in the gorge. The railway has also changed its role from material transportation to that of sightseeing.

Kurobe Kyokoku Railway is a single track with a 600 V DC overhead electric system. Connecting Unazuki and Keyakidaira, its route length is 20.1 km. The gauge size is only 762 mm, which is quite unique in Japan. You can see small and lovely electric locomotives and passenger coaches without walls on the track. Looking at the deep and beautiful gorge scenery, holidaymakers enjoy one hour and twenty minutes travel from Unazuki to Keyakidaira Terminal.

To be continued.

A passenger coach, Class 1000, stands at Unazuki Station on the Korobe Kyokoku Railway

Official information of Kurobe Kyokoku Railway (Kurobe Goarge Railway):