Japan Gets 1st New Streetcar Line in 75 Years; 14.6-Kilometer Route Links Utsunomiya with Nearby Haga

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People watch as an Utsunomiya Haga LRT light rail train heads toward a ceremony venue in Utsunomiya on the first day of its service on Saturday.

UTSUNOMIYA — Residents and railway fans celebrated on Saturday the inauguration of a streetcar line connecting the capital of Tochigi Prefecture with a neighboring town, the nation’s first new launch of a streetcar service in 75 years.

On the east side of JR Utsunomiya Station, a ceremony was held to mark the departure of the first service of the Utsunomiya Haga LRT light rail transit system, the first streetcar line to be launched since the Manyo Line started its service in Toyama Prefecture 75 years ago.

Described as an eco-friendly transportation system, the LRT system features low-floor cars, making it easier for passengers to get on and off. The Utsunomiya Haga LRT line operates on a 14.6-kilometer track, taking 48 minutes to make the trip from Utsunomiya Station to the other terminal in the town of Haga.