Abandoned Hyogo train tracks to open for hiking in fall

Straddling the cities of Nishinomiya and Takarazuka, the long-deserted Japanese National Railways rail line of the abandoned Fukuchiyama Line will reopen in October 2016 as a public hiking trail.

Stretching 4.7 kilometers along the Mukogawa river, the railway tracks were abandoned in 1986 after the opening of a nearby tunnel. The rails were removed, but the wooden ties, the old tunnel and the steel bridge remain on the tracks.

Many an adventuresome hiker has made their way through the dark tunnel with a flashlight to enjoy the picturesque views of the defunct tracks running along a valley abundant with natural scenery. On holidays, the area is often crowded with hikers.

The railroad ties, weather-beaten steel bridge, bat-dwelling tunnel and the dilapidated tracks will remain intact. But city officials urge hikers to keep safety in mind.

“The fundamental principle is that hikers will be responsible for their own safety when using the trail,” said an official from the city government’s policy bureau. “We want them to understand that and enjoy hiking.”

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