The Utsunomiya-Haga Light Rail Line, a next-generation LRT connecting the cities of Utsunomiya and Haga in Tochigi Prefecture, opened for service on August 26. This is the first all-new LRT line in Japan. It is also the first new LRT line to be opened in 75 years, since the Manyo Line in Toyama Prefecture. The opening ceremony was held in front of the east exit of Utsunomiya Station on the same day, and was attended by many local residents and railway enthusiasts who celebrated the start of the new line.
Utsunomiya Mayor Eiichi Sato praised the employees and others involved in the project, saying, "There were a number of critical situations that made us wonder if we would actually be able to open the line, but thanks to everyone's efforts, we were able to complete the project. I hope this project will serve as a model for the rest of the country.” Mayor Kazuo Ozeki of Haga City said, "This was a major project that cost more than a year's budget for the city. We hope the line will contribute to the development of the region.”
The new line will run from the east exit of Utsunomiya Station through the Kiyohara Industrial Park in the eastern part of the city to the Takanezawa Industrial Park in the neighboring city of Haga, a distance of approximately 14.6 kilometers, connecting the two areas in 48 minutes. (2023/08/29)