2022 marks the 150th anniversary of Japan’s railway system, which began service between Shimbashi and Yokohama in 1872.
After the Meiji Restoration, Japan urgently needed to establish a transportation network to transform the country into a modern nation. The development of railways that could carry more people and goods, faster, and farther, was of great significance. Since Japan did not have railway technology at that time, Edmund Morrell and other British engineers took the lead in the construction of Japan’s railways. Their contributions led to the creation of a government-owned railway in Japan just five years after the Meiji Restoration. Since then, railways have influenced and changed the lives of the Japanese people in many ways.
Among various transportation infrastructures, the railway network, with its efficient transportation, strongly supported Japan’s economic development. And, because railways have overwhelmingly high kinetic energy efficiency, they have extremely low environmental impact compared to automobiles.
In 2019, Japan’s CO2 emissions totalled 1.108 billion tons. Of that, the transportation sector contributed 206 million tons of CO2 emissions, accounting for 18.6% of all emissions nationwide. Breaking down the transportation sector emissions, 86.1% come from all vehicles, 5.1% from aviation, 5.0% from coastal shipping and only 3.8% from railways.