Hawaii is one of the 50 states of the United States of America,
but as an island community its various railways are treated separately
on this page.
There have been numerous small railway concerns in the Hawaiian
Islands over the years; most were concerned with sugar production,
although several had considerable tourist potential, even in their
early years. The lines shown on this page all enjoyed common carrier
status; in addition, there were many privately owned lines operating
on sugar plantations. Of all these, just a few lines remain today
as tourist operations.
In 2007, a project was initiated for a new Light Rail Transit
(elevated metro) line in the Honolulu area.
The Koko Head Railroad Trail, looking towards Maunalua Bay
- Hawaiian Agricultural Company
- Initally a 2ft (610mm), later 3ft (914mm) gauge line between
Punaluu and Pahala at the southern tip of the island. Dates unknown.
- Hawaii Consolidated Railway
- Originally the Hilo Railroad, a fairly substantial standard (1435mm)
gauge network on the east of the island, centred on Hilo. The first
section of line, 8 miles (13km) between the Olaa sugar mill and
Waiakea, opened in 1900. The line suffered massive damage in 1946 when
the island was struck by a tsunami, and never reopened.
- Hawaii Railway
- Originally the Hawaiian Railroad, a 3ft (914mm) gauge line between
Mahukona, Kohala and Niulii at the northern tip of the island. The 20
mile (32km) line, the first on the island, opened in 1882-1883. Already
struggling by the 1930s, the line suffered a severe blow in 1941, when
the port of Mahukona was closed because of the War. Some traffic
lingered for a few years, but the last train eventually ran in 1945.
- Hilton Waikoloa Village
- A tram system connects the main buildings of the resort complex
on the northwest coast of the Big Island. Operates daily throughout
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- Ahukini Terminal & Railway
- A 2ft 6in (762mm) gauge line on the east of the island.
Opened in 1920 as a common carrier, was taken into private hands
in 1932. Continued to operate until 1959.
- Kauai Railway
- A 2ft 6in (762mm) gauge line on the south of the island. Opened
in 1907. Like many comparable railways, it suffered ever increasing
competition from road transport and eventually closed in 1947.
- Kauai Plantation Railway
- A 3ft (914mm) gauge tourist line, constructed in 2007 using
heritage equipment, in the Kilohana Plantation. Line about 2½ miles
(4km) in length. Diesel hauled. Operates daily throughout the year.
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- Kahului Railroad
- A 3ft (914mm) gauge line on the north of the island. The first
section opened in 1879, making it the earliest railway in the Hawaiian
Islands. It closed in 1966.
- Lahaina, Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad
- Lahaina to Kaanapali, about 6 miles (9.5km), on the west side of
the island. 3ft (914mm) gauge. A tourist service operated from 1970 until 2014..
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- Oahu Railway & Land Company
- The first section of this 3ft (914mm) gauge network of lines opened
in 1889. At its greatest extent, the line left Honolulu, skirted Pearl
Harbour and headed for the west coast of the island. It then followed
the west and north coasts as far as Kahuku. A branch from Waipahu ran
inland to Halemano. The network was heavily utilised during the Second
World War, notably for access to Schofield Army Barracks and Lualaulei
Naval Ammunition Depot. However, general traffic was insufficient to
ensure the survival of the line after the War, and operations outside
the area of Honolulu and the Harbour ceased in 1947. The little traffic
that remained lingered until 1972, when the last section of line
finally closed to commercial traffic.
- Koolau Railroad
- A 3ft (914mm) gauge line on the east coast of the island,
effectively a continuation of the Oahu Railway from Kahuku to Kahana.
- 3ft (914mm) gauge tourist line on part of the route of the former
Oahu Railway. ʻEwa to Kahe Point, about 6½ miles (10 km). Possible
future extension to Nānākuli, a further 3 miles (5 km). Diesel hauled.
Operates Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, and by
private charter on other days.
- Pineapple Express
- A 2ft (610mm) gauge miniature railway, 2 miles (3km) in length,
in the Dole plantation. Diesel powered replica steam locomotives.
Operates daily throughout the year, except Christmas Day.
- Projected Light Rail Transit (elevated metro) line connecting
West Oahu with downtown Honolulu.
- Monorail connecting the two main sections of the Pearlridge Shopping Center in Aiea
(Website contains no information relating to monorail)
- Both the US Army and the US Navy had lines of their own on Oahu
during the Second World War. One of these, the Koko Head Railroad,
a steep cable hauled railway leading to the lip of Koko Crater in
Koko Head District Park, remains more or less intact and is used as
a hiking trail, its 1048 sleepers (crossties) forming “stairs”.
© 2006-2022 Glyn Williams
Photo Image by Jackson Groves from the Journey