Nagoya monorail

Een voormalige monorail volgens het systeem SAFEGE.

De monorail van Nagoya in Japan, die dienstdeed van 1964 tot 1974. Gebouwd door Mitsubishi volgens het systeem SAFEGE (verkeerd gespeld in de tekst): Société Anonyme Française d'Etude de Gestion et d'Entreprises. Dit is een Frans conglomeraat, met onder andere Michelin en Renault, dat een systeem heeft ontwikkeld waarbij de treinen hangen aan wielstellen met luchtbanden. De rails, inclusief een derde rail voor de stroomtoevoer, zijn weggewerkt in een buis met aan de onderkant een sleuf. Hierdoor zijn de rails goed beschermd tegen weersinvloeden. Dankzij de luchtbanden rijden de treinen heel stil en rustig. Het systeem, of varianten ervan, wordt nog steeds toegepast. Het belangrijkste concurrerende systeem is dat van de Alweg-Bahn, waarbij de treinen - met luchtbanden - bovenop de rails rijden. Scan uit een brochure van Mitsubishi Rolling Stock (ongedateerd). Let op de nooduitgang!

名古屋 Nagoya 東山公園 Higashiyama Park (1964-1974)

Nagoya planned metro construction from the mid-1930s but was not able to start construction until 1954. The initial 2.4-km segment opened at the end of 1957. By 1963, when municipal authorities decided to replace tramcars because of growing traffic congestion, it had completed only 6.1 km of metro extensions. Fulfillment of the six-route, 50-km metro plan announced in 1950 seemed years away.

Meanwhile, the municipal Engineering Bureau became interested in monorail development. Perhaps inspired by the Tôkyô's Ueno Park monorail, the city joined forces with the private sector in 1962 to build a demonstration line in Higashiyama Park. Nippon Airway Development Co., Ltd. (日本エアウエイ開発 nippon kaihatsu), organized by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and ten other firms in 1962, acquired license rights for Safege suspended monorail technology in Japan. This enterprise was absorbed into parent Mitsubishi, apparently at an early stage. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries became the prime contractor and built the rolling stock, a single car. Construction started in 1963.

The 0.5-km single guideway connected Higashiyama Zoo (東山動物園 higashiyama dôbutsuen) with Higashiyama Botanical Garden (東山植物園 higashiyama shokubutsuen), and cost about ¥110 million ($300,000) to build. Rolling stock and other equipment brought the total cost to about ¥220 million ($600,000). Traction current was supplied at 600V dc.

The line opened early in 1964, and averaged of 1,000 passengers daily. It attracted considerable media attention but mechanical problems hindered operation. These led to two four-day suspensions of operation during the first year.

It is not clear what potential applications were envisioned for monorail technology. Nagoya continued to build metro lines and replaced trams with motorbuses. Surface rail operation ended in 1974. No proposals for additional monorails were advanced.

Instead of a showcase, the Higashiyama monorail became a deficit-ridden orphan. It earned a profit during its first two years, but losses began in 1966. Efforts to restore profitability failed, and the municipal transport bureau eventually lost interest. Plans for expansion of the zoo and botanical gardens apparently hastened the end, which came at the end of 1975. The car and a short section of guideway are preserved in Higashiyama Park, but the remainder was dismantled and removed.

Leroy W. Demery, Jr. "Monorails in Japan, an overview". Special Report No. 9. June 22, 2005.

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