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Japan’s oldest monorail permanently closing next month

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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