Siemens built Combino sweeps along a curve on the final
approach to Nishi-Hiroshima. Being first introduced in 1999, now, 12
Combinos serve Hiroshima city running through the heavy rail
right-of-way of the Miyajima Line up to Miyajimaguchi.
In this month's update of the JRS homepage, we want to introduce
Japan's largest and most interesting tramway network, Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is a city of 1.1 million inhabitants, capital of Hiroshima
prefecture and the largest city between Osaka and Kyushu, thus being
the economical centre for much of Western Japan and the Inland Sea.
Hiroshima became world-famous in August 1945, when the American Forces
dropped an atomic bomb over the city.
Today, the network consists of 7 lines:
1: Hiroshima station - Kamiyacho - Hiroshima-ko
2: Hiroshima station - Nishi-Hiroshima - Miyajimaguchi
3: Nishi-Hiroshima - Kamiyacho - Hiroshima-ko
5: Hiroshima station - Hiroshima-ko
6: Hiroshima station - Kamiyacho - Eba
8: Yokogawa - Eba
9: Hakushima - Hatchobori
A line 7 will be introduced in the future, to run from Yokogawa to Kamiyacho, and probably further on to Hiroshima-ko.
Kamiyacho is the centre of the city, with shopping centres, a big
department store (Sogo), the bus centre and the prefectural government
nearby. The A-Bomb-Dome and the baseball stadion are also very close.
As the city centre is several kilometres away from the next railway
stations (Nishi-Hiroshima, Yokogawa, Hiroshima), the tramway has an
important task of connecting the city with the JR stations.
Indeed, that connection was the origin of the tramways. In 1912, the
line between Hiroshima and Nishi-Hiroshima stations opened, together
with two branch-lines, one is today's route 9 to Hakushima, the other
is part of lines 1 and 3 southwards from Kamiyacho. By 1922, the
network had been extended by a line to Yokogawa station, and the
southern route had reached the harbour (now called Hiroshima-ko,
formerly Ujina). The line to Miyajimaguchi was completed in the early
1930s, and during the war, the line to Eba was built, plus a shorter
route from the harbor to the station: this is today's route 5, which
does not go via Kamiyacho.
The total length of the network today is 34.9 km, of which 16.1 km
(the section between Nishi-Hiroshima and Miyajimaguchi) is classified
as railway with speeds up to 70 km/h. In the city, trams do not run
faster than 40 km/h. All lines are standard gauge of 1,435 mm, and are
electrified at 600 V dc. In 2000, a total of 60 million people used the
trams. There are three depots: Eba (terminus of routes 8 and 6), Senda
(also headquarters of Hiroden; on routes 1 and 3 south of Kamiyacho)
and Arate along the Miyajima line.
A single ride is 150 Yen, a one-day ticket is 600 Yen. If you want
to see Miyajima with the famous red torii (shrine-gate) in the sea, it
is useful to get a one-day ticket which includes the ferry for 840 Yen
(note that you cannot use the JR Ferry with this ticket, but the
Matsudai Ferry). Even better value is a 2-day ticket which includes all
trams, the ferry and the ropeway on Miyajima Island, for 2,000 Yen.
Modern chopper-control #3702 on the right leaving JR Hiroshima
station with old Kyoto car #1007 in opposite direction, at Enkobashi.
Hiroshima's original car #713 built by Alna-Koki in 1985, at Enkobashi.
Naniwa-Koki 1953 built #504, at Kaigandori near Hiroshima Port.
Alna-Koki 1991 built articulated three-car #3903 rolls up
towards Nishi-Hiroshima along the heavy rail right-of-way on the
Miyajima Line, at Hatsukaichi.
Alna-Koki 1991 built #804 pauses at Chuden-mae tram stop.
Vintage car #101, restored in 1985, was originally built in
1925. This car is occasionally used when a special event takes place.
#156, built in 1925, is the oldest car among the Hiroshima fleet.
Typical German cars in the Hiroshima tram fleet line up at Senda depot.
1964 Hitachi built 3006 shows off its articulated figure at Fukuromachi.
This European car #238, built in 1927, came from Hanover in Germany and serves special events.
Dortmund car #76, built 1959, stands at Miyajimaguchi, the
western terminus of the Miyajima Line. This car came to Hiroshima in
the 1980s. This car also works on only special services.
1950 built ex-Osaka car #772 takes a rest at Senda depot.
Many trams were built for Hiroshima, but many others came
second-hand from other systems when they closed. Series 570 and 1150 is
from Kobe, 750 and 900 from Osaka, 1900 from Kyoto, and 3000 from
Fukuoka. Hiroshima has a number of relatively new trams, built since
1982, which are series 700, 750 and 800, and also articulated cars 3700
to 3950. Outstanding is tram 3501, which has a chopper-control. While
many tramways in Europe, especially Germany, have copper-controls, only
this tram in Hiroshima and two others in Nagasaki have it.
Many photos on this page were taken during the annual meeting of the
Japan Tramway Society, which was held in Hiroshima in October 2002.
All images in this page were photographed by the author.