Bikes on Closed Railways Raising Hopes of Regional Revitalization

Society Travel Guide to Japan

Gifu, Aug. 23 (Jiji Press)--“Rail mountain bikes,” or trolleys driven by bicycles, are increasingly being used on closed railway lines in Japan as a leisure activity, offering excitement for tourists and others.

The thrilling experience has also been attracting local governments’ attention as a way to promote local revitalization by making use of sites that once hosted railways, at a time when many train lines running through sparsely populated areas risk being scrapped due to the declining populations.

The “Rail Mountain Bike Gattan Go!!” attraction was launched in 2007 in the city of Hida in Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, using the facilities of a public-private, or third-sector railway, that was abandoned in 2006.

Initially, some locals did not believe the attraction would be successful, arguing that the running costs would be high.

But it became gradually popular as its routes allow people to ride through tunnels and across railroad bridges on the trolleys powered by motor-assisted bicycles, with the number of visitors rising year after year. Currently, the rail mountain bike ride attracts around 40,000 tourists annually, including families.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press