Sayonara Streetcar By Ralph Forty Interurbans Special #70 1978 Soft Cover 64 pag

Sayonara Streetcar By Ralph Forty Interurbans Special #70 1978 Soft Cover 64 pag

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Sayonara Streetcar By Ralph Forty Interurbans Special #70 1978 Soft Cover 64 pag
Sayonara Streetcar By Ralph Forty Interurbans Special #70 1978 Soft Cover 64 pages
WELCOME to Interurbans' first overseas excursion. No SuperSaver fares are needed, no package tour arrangements are necessary. We present instead what we hope will be a satisfying armchair expedition to parts previously unknown to the average American railfan.
The idea of presenting a book on Japanese electric railways actually dates back well before the 1975 death of Interurbans founder Ira Swett. Southern California railfan Ralph Forty had assembled a wealth of material on the Land of the Rising Sun, his home for many years while serving in the U.S. Navy. But Interurbans' publishing schedule was full, and nothing was done at the time.
In the meantime Forty, in collaboration with Wally Higgins, started a series of well-received articles on Japanese tramways for Modern Tramways, published in England with a worldwide circulation. This whetted our appetite for more on Japan, where the electric railway (at least in many forms) is still the king of transport.
By now retired from the Navy and globe-trotting his way around the world to see and photograph the tractions of every continent save Antarctica, Ralph agreed to revive the idea of a Japanese book to focus on the many typical city streetcar systems-many of them very small-which were bowing out.
Japan, it seems, is finally catching up with the West in one respect: one by one, its streetcar systems are losing out to the motor car, the bus and the subway. The end is not yet, but the tramcar certainly has become an endangered species in Nippon.
And so the time had come to say `sayonara' to the Japanese streetcar -and Interurbans wanted to be there.
All of the photos in this book were taken by Ralph in the 1950s and 1960s. The data was compiled by him, much of it first-hand. Maps are from standard Japanese railway and transit sources, except in a few cases where personal observation played a hand in identifying features.
Altogether, 26 systems, all now closed, are covered in this book. Geographically, we start with the systems in the north of Honshu-the main island-and work south and west, bypassing Tokyo because the capital is still technically, at least, a streetcar operator with some suburban operation. Then our coverage jumps to Kyushu, the southernmost main island, and winds up back on the northernmost island, Hokkaido.
Ralph has kept the system descriptions brief, letting the photos tell much of the story of the Japanese tramcar. To be precise, local distances are given in metric while railway distances from Tokyo are given in miles; both measurements are used in Japan though metric is official.
Realizing that, in this era of easy world travel, many railfans will be able to visit Japan in the future, we provide a list of all of the closed systems, plus the systems which were still, in the summer of 1978, operating. Ralph also has compiled a list of preserved tramcars, and there are many.
Perhaps, if this book is well received (and we must admit it is something of an experiment) the author will provide us with an even larger book on the many, and flourishing, Japanese interurbans. Now THAT would be a fascinating book . . . and it would not be a "goodbye" book, because the many Japanese interurbans face a bright future, unlike their unfortunate city cousins.
Herewith Ralph Forty's tribute to the Japanese tramcar, soon to join its ancestors.

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