Kyoto City Lines #869/1869 | Hankai Electric Tramway #255
Kyoto City Lines #869/1869
Hankai Electric Tramway #255
KYOTO, JAPAN & OSAKA, JAPAN
#255 in “advertising” paint scheme as it arrived from Osaka.
The reconstruction of Japan during the occupation of allied forces after World War II included the remanufacture of 1920s vintage streetcars. Due to their age, this was a temporary measure. As soon as possible, hundreds of new streetcars were constructed to a more or less standard design. Built in 1953, car 869 was one of 90 manufactured for Kyoto City Lines between 1950 and 1955. As originally constructed, it was designed for two-man operation (motorman and conductor) with four doors, one in each corner. After several years it was renumbered 1869 when converted to one-man operation by closing the front right door on each side (since Japanese traffic travels on the left side of the street) and opening a center door. It continued to run on the city lines in Kyoto until 1972 when service was discontinued in favor of buses connecting to the subway system.
#869 as it is today, returned to its Kyoto configuration.
Six Kyoto cars were then sold to the suburban Hankai Electric Tramway of Osaka and renumbered to #251-256, with #1869 becoming #255. It ran there until June 9, 1992 when it was retired and purchased by Old Pueblo Trolley. It was shipped to Tucson, arriving in November 1992 in time to be part of the opening celebration of the re-establishment of electric streetcar service on April 17, 1993. Purchase price was ¥100,000 ($930 US), but expensive shipping across several municipal jurisdictions from Osaka to the port at Kobe raised total shipping costs to about $25,500.
When it arrived in Tucson it was in its center door configuration with a rice wine advertising paint scheme. The poor-quality paint applied for what was intended to be a short-term use deteriorated rapidly in our hot Arizona sun. So in May of 1994, #255 was removed from service. What started as a simple repainting turned into a major rebuilding as the center doors were closed and right end doors opened up to return it to its original 1953 Kyoto configuration. It reentered service in June of 1995 as Kyoto 869.