Japan’s oldest monorail permanently closing next month

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Japan is a country crisscrossed by a seemingly limitless number of train and subway lines. Monorails, though, are harder to find, and they’re going to get a little harder still following an announcement from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Transportation that next month the Ueno Zoo Monorail will be officially and permanently closing, and subsequently dismantled.

It’s a sad, but not shocking, development for Japan’s oldest monorail, which started service in 1957. As the name implies, the Ueno Zoo Monorail operates within Ueno Zoo, which is itself located inside Ueno Park. The 300-meter monorail line connects two stations, one on the east side of the zoo and the other on the west.

Ordinarily, this would be the cue for rail fans to head to Ueno for one last ride. Unfortunately, that’s not an option. The Ueno Zoo Monorail hasn’t been running since 2019, when service was suspended because of the aged conditions of the train/rail, and as with a lot of things, future plans for the monorail appeared to be in limbo during the pandemic. In July of this year, the Bureau of Transportation declared it would be formally closing the Ueno Zoo Monorail in the summer of 2024, which provided a sliver of hope that it might make a few final runs before then, but the timetable was moved up, and December 27 is now the official last day for the monorail.

The bureau says that demolition work will begin sometime after January and the monorail’s remains to be removed by the end of next fiscal year, which comes in the spring of 2025, and that a “new substitute vehicle” will go into service by the end of the following fiscal year (i.e. spring 2026). Based on that wording, though, it’s unlikely to be a monorail, leaving the Tokyo Monorail, which connects Hamamatsucho Station and Haneda Airport, as Tokyo’s sole remaining monorail.

Source: NHK News Web, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Transportation via IT Media

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Japan has an aging infrastructure and it needs major repairs.

Every time, I use a highway, bridge and tunnel, I wonder about how much rust has built up in the supports…

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Don't worry. There are stacks more great trains in Japan. All good fun to ride.

There is the Shonan monorail and Tama monorail, all in or within striking distance of Tokyo. Chiba has one too. And several different shinkansen of course. Shinkansen like to be stroked, so don't be shy.

There are also a number of automated rail lines like the Yurikamome, and some tram-like trains that run through the streets in Setagaya and Enoshima. But my favourite remains the Yūkarigaoka Line.

The Takao Tozan Cable line (a funicular up Mt. Takao) may be the oddest. The seats and foot spaces are a strange shape to deal with the gradient. Very steep. Very odd travelling on it. An absolute must, as is the cable route.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Is there a chance the track would bend?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Monorails, though they might be efficient, do destroy the urban landscape. Better without.

I think the one in Chiba is a huge financial loss.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )


Maybe,but I first arrived here,it looked so rad.

We only have a pedal train on our island,so miss proper ones.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Let's not forget the monorail from Haneda to Hamamatsucho station. I use it every time I visit Japan. Both ways.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tokyo Monorail is not the only monorail operating in Tokyo - there is the Tama Monorail which is in Tokyo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As a train geek I find this rather sad. But it wasn't ever really transport proper, more of a kiddies theme park ride.

There are so many great train lines that will close and I doubt the government will built anything remotely exciting in the future. Just practical lines like Utsunomiya's lightning bee thing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ever heard of the Tama monorail? It's also in Tokyo. There are also pending plans to extend it to Machida station.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I used to live in Himeji which for decades had the remnants of a monorail that had shut down in the 1970s. The decaying rails, support posts sticking out of old buidings and an old apartment building that had a defunct station built into it were some of the neatest bits of "abandoned Japan" scenery but most of it was removed a few years ago.

Monorails, though they might be efficient, do destroy the urban landscape. 

Have you actually seen the urban landscape in this country? Not much left to destroy, let alone by something as innocuous as a monorail.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has an aging infrastructure and it needs major repair.

45,000 bridges and tunnels are waiting for repairs. The figure represents 60% of the structures cited nationwide for restoration.

As soon as you get out of Tokyo into the suburbs there's lots of "rotting" infrastructure

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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