Hiroshima: Skyrail System Makes Final Run; ‘New Transportation’ Was Not Introduced Elsewhere

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Skyrail car runs on April 30, the last day of the system’s operation, in Aki Ward, Hiroshima.

HIROSHIMA — The Skyrail, an elevated transportation system linking a residential complex on a hill in Aki Ward, Hiroshima, and a JR station at the foot of the hill, ended a quarter-century of operation on April 30.

As the number of passengers stagnated and parts becoming difficult to procure, the Skyrail was forced to shut down.

The Skyrail was an unusual system as it was a combination of monorail and ropeway. The gondola-like cars were suspended from a rail and moved with the use of a cable.

The Skyrail opened in August 1998 and ran on a 1.3-kilometer route with three stops: Midori-Guchi Station in front of JR Seno Station, Midori-Nakamachi Station and Midori-Chuo Station. The car could carry 25 passengers and travel at an average speed of about 15 kph. A one-way trip took about five minutes and cost ¥170 for adults.

It was initially estimated that the Skyrail would draw a daily ridership of 5,000. However, the target was never reached, and fare revenues remained stagnant. Hopes were high in the beginning as a new form of transportation, but the company that manufactured parts went out of business, making it difficult for the Skyrail to continue operating. The system was not introduced elsewhere, either.

Electric buses were introduced on the route and began operating in the housing complex prior to the Skyrail shutting down.