Along the Osaka Metro Lines Series:
The fourth line introduced in Along the Osaka Metro Line Series that introduces the charms and characteristics of Osaka Metro and its surrounding neighborhoods is…the New Tram! New Tram runs 7.9 km, connecting Yotsubashi Line’s terminus Suminoekoen Station and Chuo Line’s terminus Cosmosquare. While the official name of this line is the Nanko Port Town Line, it’s more commonly known by its nickname—New Tram—which was chosen from ideas submitted by the public. The unconventional nickname sounds urban and sharp in Japanese and attracts attention from many. The color of New Tram is Cerulean blue (aqua blue,) representing the sky and the sea.
Osaka Metro’s Only Automated Train
Opened in 1981, New Tram was the second Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) to operate in Japan after Kobe City’s Port Liner. Simply put, AGT is a fully automated train system that requires no drivers and conductors. The design of the current 200 series fleet was created by a group of local students and selected in a public audition with a theme of “cheerful children running around Nanko port.” Gold was added to its colorful fleet—that includes red, orange, yellow, and blue—at the time of privatization. The design also includes a cute smiley panda face in front of the train!
Pretend You’re the Driver!
While the train cars are more compact compared to the other Osaka Metro lines, the use of bright colors—green in the image of trees and grass in the parks and pink in the image of sakura cherry blossoms, for example—creates a sunny atmosphere on the New Tram. The seat is wide and comfortable and the cushy back is nice on your back.
You could even sit all the way up front where the driver usually sits and pretend you’re the driver!
Seaside View from the Elevated Tracks
New Tram starts at Suminoekoen Station, Yotsubashi Line’s terminus. Frosted windows at the platforms here are designed to block the view of the boat races happening across the street at Boat Race Suminoe but once you get on the train, you get to enjoy a view of the bay almost all the way, as well as changing sceneries as the train runs through different areas.
Industrial plants stand side by side in the areas leading to the next two stations, Hirabayashi and Nanko-guchi in the Nanko area.
After Nanko-higashi Station, the train reaches Ferry Terminal Station where, as the name indicates, ferries to Kyushu and Shikoku depart. You might catch a glimpse of a large vessel if you’re lucky!
As the train crosses the Nanko Ohashi Bridge, you enter Sakishima island.
While Nanko is filled with industrial plants and transportation companies, Sakishima has parks, baseball fields, schools and Osaka Prefectural government offices. The sea and boats are a motif in this area.
Around Nakafuto and Trade Center-mae Stations are large convention facilities including INTEX Osaka (International Exhibition Center) and ATC Hall (Asia and Pacific Trade Center,) hosts to popular events. Sports lovers don’t want to miss a visit to the Mizuno Sportology Gallery at the headquarters of Mizuno Corporation, a global sporting goods company. At this museum of sporting goods, you can see the baseball uniforms from the Taisho Era (1912-1926,) learn about Mizuno’s newest technologies and the future of sporting goods, and touch the models of the equipment used by famous athletes, all for free of charge.
Nakafuto Station at the end of the curved track off the main line, is Osaka Metro’s Nanko Train Inspection Yard. Trains are inspected at this facility to ensure safety on Osaka Metro. It’s not open to public but you can see trains lined up from afar.
Catch a Beautiful Sunset
Because New Tram runs through Osaka’s Bay Area, it offers not only the views of the sea but also a beautiful sunset at various spots such as Osaka Prefectural Government Sakishima Building Observatory (Cosmo Tower,) Seaside Cosmo near Cosmosquare Station, and Osaka Nanko Bird Sanctuary (closes at 5pm) to name a few. The Osaka Nanko Bird Sanctuary is one of the most important oases in Japan for migrating birds, where guided tours are offered several times a month. The station name—Cosmosquare—which sounds neo-futuristic was also selected from a public audition.
You are guaranteed to feel closest to the sea and the sky when riding the New Tram, more than you would on any other train in Osaka. Sometimes it’s worth riding Osaka Metro just to enjoy the view from the train♪
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