SAITAMA – A new museum dedicated to railways opened Sunday in Saitama, displaying a collection of rolling stock, including 36 locomotives, and featuring a computerized driving simulator for a steam locomotive.
About 2,000 people, including railway fans, made a long line in front of the Railway Museum to wait for its opening. Sunday fell on Railways Day, which marks the Oct. 14, 1872 opening of Japan’s first railway line between Tokyo’s Shimbashi and Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Ahead of its opening to the public, a ceremony was held at the museum with actress Sayuri Yoshinaga among the participants.
The three-story facility has a total floor space of 28,000 sq. meters. The 36 locomotives displayed there included the C57-type steam locomotive, used from the 1940s to the 1970s across the nation and known as “the Lady” for its sleek shape, and Japan’s first steam locomotive that ran on the Shimbashi-Yokohama route.
Visitors can enjoy a state-of-the-art simulator in which they can play the role of a locomotive engineer in a reproduced real-scale driving room of the D51 steam locomotive.
Naoki Ando, an 18-year-old high school student from Yokohama, who had stood in line from 5 p.m. Saturday, said, “If fans like me increase with the opening of the museum, railways across the nation will come alive.”
The museum opened as a replacement facility for the Transport Museum in Tokyo, which closed last year.
The new museum is operated by the East Japan Railway Culture Foundation. Its opening marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of Japan Railway companies through the privatization and breakup of Japanese National Railways.