West Japan Railway to build the largest train museum in Japan in Kyoto

West Japan Railway (JR West) is spending about 7 billion yen ($83 million) to build the largest train museum in Japan 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. 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 museum will feature many trains that were the first of their series, and tracks will be from Kyoto Station so that currently operating trains can be seen by visitors.

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. Exhibition trains and documents from JR West’s Modern Transportation Museum in Osaka will be transferred to the new museum. 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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