A webpage of old rails (for railroad) in Japan

(c) Michihiro ARASHI, 1999-2006.

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| Abstract | Keywords | Image of old rails in Japan |
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first wrote in 2003.09.05 / Last Edited in 2006.08.31


  In Japan, the first railroad transportation service was started between Shimbashi Station at Tokyo and Yokohama Station in 1872, and the 2nd service was started between Osaka Station and Kobe Station in 1874. The rails laid at these times were i-rails made of wrought iron. Flat-bottom rails (made of wrought iron) were laid on the railroad between Kyoto Station and Osaka Station which were opened to the 3rd in 1878. First steel rails (laid i-rails again) were laid in the 4th railroad section between Otsu Station and Kyoto Station in 1880. Subsequently, steel flat-bottom rails are being laid on the railroad of Japan, including the Shinkansen (= the Bullet Train).

  As for early rails in Japan, the import rails from Europe and USA were laid. Rolling of rails in Japan was started in 1901, in the Steel Works at Yawata in Kyushu by Japanese government. Since rails by domestic product were insufficient at first, Japanese made rails and import rails were used by mix to 1926-27. Present, rails for railroads of Japan are provided only by the domestic product. They are rolled in the Yawata Works of NIPPON Steel Corporation and the Fukuyama Plant (in the West Japan Works) of JFE Steel Corporation. In these, the rails for export are also contained, besides rails laid in Japan.

  Used old rails were recycled to various facilities in Japan by reasons, such as the oriental custom of economizing any things (known that it is "Mottainai") or the supply shortage caused from World War II. They were widely recycled as materials for the roofs of platform in station, the overpasses crossing tracks, the fences stabbing to the ground and the others. Those many are colored with paint for rust prevention. Therefore, it is possible to research old rails in Japan, because a large number of rails are still existing and being recycled. By the way, the rails laid for first railroad in Japan are still existing and are British rails which were printed "+ DARLINGTON IRON Co 70 IGJR". Since such stamps are printed on web (/ side) of rails, we can get various informations about the makers, the manufacture years, also the clients, etc. from rails. By this method, the rails of 10 nations and about 90 makers are being discovered in Japan.

  The act of recycling these rails became obsolete quickly by the 1970s. It is considered to be some reasons as H-shape steels which are used for construction materials became more cheaply to receive, as the quality of rails was improved (by increasing the ratio of the carbon contained in steel) so that it could not bend easily, and as rails became larger and heavy. In recent years, the constructions installing elevators and escalators in stations, and the constructions remaking stations to be able to utilize from the both sides of railroad tracks by laying over them (railroad tracks) are often performed in Japan. It generally follows on these constructions, buildings which recycled old rails are removed. Therefore, it is more necessary to hurry to record old rails being recycled by them currently.

  At the researching of old rails in Japan, "The introduction for hobby-research of rails" which were reported 3 times in 1977 by NISHINO Yasuyuki and FUCHIGAMI Tatsuo on "the Railway Pictorial" of a Japanese railroad hobby magazine, are existence like textbook (its supplements were added another 3 times). They are reporting about rails found in Japan as some outlines of history, some comments about makers, some guesses to the clients, and some considerations. Although a quarter of a century passed, and various changes and new discoveries also are continuing, articles authorizing old rails are nearly not being published after that.

  Therefor, I investigate and record old rails, and do classifying and evaluating of them. And, I open their results to the public by the webpage of the Inter-net.


"history of railroad", "history of steel industry", "industrial archaeology", "Japan", "Japanese Railway", "modernization heritage", "old rails", "used rails"

Images of old rails in Japan

[cutted] R??NGTON IRO? Co 70 IGJR
The first rail that laid in Japan. It is an i-rail made of wrought iron.
(Circular-S mark)   No.60 B.    1902
The Japanese-made steel rail that was rolled in the 2nd Year (1902).
The rails rolled in the 1st year (1901) are not being found.
at Settsu-Tonda Station near by Osaka at Maibara Station located at between Nagoya and Kyoto
The pillars of the roof on the platform which recycled old i-rails. The pillars of the roof on the platform which recycled old rails.
at Uguisu-Dani Station in Tokyo near by Naoetsu Station in Niigata
The overpass using old rails as structural materials. The fences utilize old rails and were made by stabbing to the ground.

Description Language

  This webpage is describing by Japanese. It is difficult to translate to English since I'm a Japanese and because this webpage is being updated frequently.

  There are some auto-translation services which translate Japanese to English. It may be useful that you utilize these services. For instance there are AltaVista (Babel Fish Translation) or AMiKAi. If you click the lower link, you can browse in English my webpage from the titlepage.

  In addition, since auto-translation services are incomplete, it is translated sometimes incomprehensibly, but I think that my nuances are able to communicate to you.

A webpage of old rails (for railroad) in Japan
(Auto-Translation to English by BizLingo on excite.)

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