OSAKA--West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) is spending about 7 billion yen ($83 million) to build the largest train museum in Japan, a mammoth project that will open in spring 2016 in Kyoto.
The museum in Umekoji Park in Shimogyo Ward will have an exhibition space that covers around 31,000 square meters to display locomotives, carriages and other train features from the past. JR West expects to draw 800,000 visitors a year.
"We want to make this a major attraction for people across Japan and overseas," JR West President Seiji Manabe said.
The city of Kyoto will lend land next to the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, also owned by JR West, for the three-story main building of the new museum and a covered promenade.
After the museum is completed, it will be combined with the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum and display around 50 locomotives and carriages.
The size of the new museum will exceed that of the Railway Museum run by East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) in Saitama. JR West’s museum will also have more exhibition pieces than the SC Maglev and Railway Park operated by Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) in Nagoya.
Among the trains on display in Kyoto will be a 500-series Shinkansen, the first commercially operated train in Japan to run at 300 kph, and a "bonnet style" train with a hood on the front of the locomotive. This train contains passenger seats that can turn into beds for night travel.
Additionally, the museum will feature many trains that were the first of their series, and tracks will be laid from Kyoto Station so that currently operating trains can be seen by visitors.
JR West is also considering displaying "working trains" that are used for maintenance and repairs on the tracks.
Exhibition trains and documents from JR West’s Modern Transportation Museum in Osaka will be transferred to the new museum. The company will consider what to do with the Osaka museum at a later date.
The Modern Transportation Museum currently draws around 200,000 visitors a year while the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum attracts around 300,000.
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