[ as of 2020 ]
Population: 595 049 (2020)
Kagoshima is a relatively modern city located at the southwestern tip of the island of Kyushu. The city was practically destroyed by the US firebomb attacks during the World War II, and then rebuilt. It is known for its bay location, hot climate, and an emblematic active volcano, Sakurajima, located on the island across the bay from the city. The volcano often produces smoke granting remarkable backdrops, as well as ash that affects city's air quality.
Operator: The Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau
Gauge: 1435 mm
Track length: 26,2 km. (one-way)
Number of services: 2
Number of passenger vehicles: 56
A sizeable busy tramway network, despite having only two main services. Trams cover most of the central area and the southern part of the town. The lines to Ishiki and Ishimuzu to the northern and western neighborhoods totaling 12,2 km. were closed 01.10.1985 due to traffic congestion on roads.
The tramway network is operated by the Kagoshima City Tram, a division of the Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau, which also operates buses. Kagoshima tramway system is one of the few Japanese operations that is known to be consistently profitable. Trams operate between 06:00-23:00. The Line 1 operates every 5 min. during peak hours, every 6-7 min. off-peak on weekdays, and every 6 min. on weekends. The Line 2 operates every 6 min. during peak hours, every 7 min. off-peak on weekdays, and every 6 min. on weekends. There are also runs operated between the Main Railroad Station and Taniyama via the Line 2 - four runs during AM peak hours, and three runs during PM peak hours on weekdays only. Trams serving the Line 2 terminate at the busy Korimoto Stop, which is also a mid-stop on the Line 1. Trams of the Line 2 change ends and direction of travel via a simple crossover in-between trams operating on the Line 1. The uniform fare in 2020 is 170¥ (~1,55$). One transfer is allowed between the Lines 1 and 2 at the Korimoto and Takamibaba Stops within one hour, a free transfer ticket is issued. One day pass is 600¥ (~5,48$).
The entire system is double-track on the segregated right-of-way. Within the city core all tramway tracks follow the street grid, mostly on the specially designed and tended grass median. The southern line of suburban character to Taniyama is on reservation. The depot was moved into the newly built facility in 05.2015. Both old and new depots have a relatively central location.
Kagoshima's fleetscape was influenced by second-hand deliveries of cars from Tokyo in the 1950s and especially from Ōsaka in the 1960s, following closure of tramway lines there. All cars were rebuilt for Kagoshima by Naniwa Kōki using newer bodies with signature Kagoshima-style front with three front windows - the main windshield in the middle, and two smaller windows on the sides. Ex-Ōsaka cars live on as 15 cars of the 9500 class, which were built by Aruna Kōki in 1995-2000 from the cars of the 800 class, which in turn were rebuilt by Naniwa Kōki in 1967-1969 from the 1956-built Ōsaka cars, which in turn were built with parts from older cars from the 1920-30s. These cars retained all the appropriate sounds from the bygone era. At the time of publishing in 2020, following retirement of cars of the 1955-1956-built 500 class in 2019, the remaining 9 cars of the 1959-1963-built 600 class became the oldest cars in operation in Kagoshima. Due to the similar type of body, cars of the 500 and 600 classes are look-a-likes. All trams in Kagoshima have air conditioners due to hot climate and presence of volcanic ash in the air, which often prevents from opening windows.
Low floor cars delivered to Kagoshima since 2002. There are 9 cars of the 3-section type based on the Little Dancer A3 design nicknamed Ultram; 4 cars of the 5-section type based on the Little Dancer A5 design called Ultram II; and 4 cars of the 2-section type based on the Little Dancer X design called Ultram III. Thus a total of 17 out of 56 passenger cars are low floor. Low floor cars complete runs specially marked in the timetable.
The sightseeing replica retro car 'Kagoden' numbered 101 was built out of the Teikoku Sharyō car 616 from 1963 with the new body by Aruna Sharyō in 2012. Bogies by Naniwa Kōki replaced in 1989-1994. The sightseeing tram operates 2 trips on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, departing the Main Railway Station Terminal at 10:00 am and 11:15 am for a 75-minute ride. The special fare in 2020 is 340¥ (~3,10$). The beer café-bar car 605 operates daily evening runs. Car 9513 was branded as the themed 'NexTram KIRIKO' car in 04.2019, and operates excursion and special occasion runs.
A specially designed flower float car participates in the Kagoshima's annual Ohara Matsuri - dance and song festival. Car 512 and the specially designed FS-67 trailer are coupled into the lawnmower-sprinkler 512-FS67 train to tend to the Kagoshima's specially designed grass right-of-way. According to local sources - this is the only such tram in the world.
Jack May, Ernst Plefka - photos
© 2002-2020 Author: Yury Maller - Usage of material found herein for public display is possible with authors' permission only.
Special thanks: Jack May, Ernst Plefka - photos