A sign along the JR Hachinohe Line guides passengers to an evacuation site on higher ground in Hirono, Iwate Prefecture.
The tsunami-damaged JR Hachinohe Line that skirts the Pacific coast of Aomori and Iwate prefectures has set up 72 evacuation routes along the line before it resumes full operations Saturday.
East Japan Railway Co., the line’s operator, said this is the first time the company has established evacuation routes along a railroad.
The 64.9-kilometer line links Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, to Kuji, Iwate Prefecture. Operations between Taneichi Station and Kuji Station have been halted since the line was battered by the March 11, 2011, tsunami.
The evacuation routes start from stations, or locations between stations, and lead to safe sites on higher ground.
Thirty-two of the escape routes were set up at sites in Iwate Prefecture that were swamped by the tsunami, and the other 40 were created at places in Iwate and Aomori prefectures that could be at risk from tsunami in the future.
Signs indicating the direction of the evacuation routes, distance to evacuation sites and the sites’ height above sea level have been erected along the railroad. Stairways were built on steep slopes on some evacuation routes.
The tsunami damaged several of the line’s stations between Hashikami Station in Aomori Prefecture and Kuji Station, as well as the railroad itself.
The 30.7-kilometer section between Taneichi and Kuji stations was hit hardest, and the tracks were severely damaged.
JR East said establishing evacuation routes was intended to allow the line to resume operating in the heavily damaged section without changing the route.
(Mar. 13, 2012)