• Jul 23rd 2008 at 6:04PM
  • 5
Most people are under the impression that trains are a reasonably green sort of transportation. When used in a city to move people about, the environmental benefits seem pretty obvious. Fewer cars are needed on the roads, decreasing congestion and electric trains are more efficient and create less air pollution than their automotive brethren. But apparently that's not good enough for some folks in Kagoshima, Japan. They realized if they placed some midori (green) around and under the train tracks, not only could they improve the appearance of their town but also reduce the heat island effect caused by acres of concrete and pavement. In the newscast discussing this development a reporter takes a temperature reading while standing on the asphalt street of 62.6 degrees Celsius (143.96 Fahrenheit). Moving over to the grass, the temperature drops to a much more reasonable 35 degrees C (95 F). So far they've done just under 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) but hope to green about 9 Km (5.5 miles) by 2012. The effect on the people of the city seemed positive. The one comment the reporter received from a woman about the improvement that we could understand without an interpreter said it looked beautiful. We agree. Thanks to B.T. for the tip!

[Source: Japan Probe]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      There are numerous examples of urban tramways in the world which have grassy trackways as part of the design, such as Le Mans, France, Adelaide, Australia, Freiburg, Germany and Nice, France. For an examples in the US, look to New Orleans and to Kenosha, WI. The older trolley lines (now gone) in Baltimore had grassy trackways, too.

      In Kenosha, the grass grows in a layer of sod with a tight root system which lies above the ballast material on a geotextile fabric. This can be rolled up in sections for ballast maintenance. I don't know the exact procedures used, but it hasn't caused headaches in other cities.

      Regarding water, it is actually an advantage to do this -- stormwater mitigation is a big issue in urban areas. By having a trackway with soil and greenery, much of the water which falls during moderate rains can be dealt with on-site rather than requiring large-scale drainage and treatment systems. If the local climate supports a species of grass which can thrive year-round (or most of the year), little watering or maintenance are required.
        • 8 Months Ago
        You can add Strasbourg France to that list.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I guess nobody told them how much water grass takes...
        • 8 Months Ago
        I guess no one told you how much it rains in Japan..
      • 8 Months Ago
      How in the world do they do ballast maintenance?

      Many minor rail lines in the U.S. have grass between the rails, but that's more a matter of Mother Nature reclaiming right-of-way.
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