The idea of building a railway to climb Mount Fuji is not new, though it has never been realized. But now the leader of a local tourism group is pitching a plan to create an environmentally friendly rail line that he believes represents the best chance yet of seeing this long-held dream come true.

The 30-kilometer railway to the fifth station of Mount Fuji would help control the number of visitors to Japan's iconic mountain, which struggles to cope with garbage and other environmental problems, said Koichiro Horiuchi, chairman of the Fujigoko Tourism Association and president of railroad operator Fuji Kyuko Co.

The railway would be built on an existing public road, Horiuchi said, so there would be almost no environmental destruction.