THE Japanese city of Utsunomiya, located to the north of Tokyo, officially opened its first light rail line on August 26 with scheduled services starting the following day.

The line was originally expected to open in March 2022, but the opening was delayed twice due to construction difficulties and a derailment in November 2022 which interrupted test running.

The 14.6km line runs from the JR East station in Utsunomiya eastwards to Haga. The 1067mm-gauge line is electrified at 750V dc and runs on renewable energy.

The project cost Yen 68.4bn ($US 467m) to build.

Utsunomiya Municipal Government is planning to build a 5km extension running west from Utsunomiya station by 2035.

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