MIYAKO, Iwate Prefecture–A railway that was thrown out of action by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster will be back to full strength this spring.
Sanriku Railway Co. is to reopen the last two sections of the two lines that have remained out of service. These are the 15-kilometer section between Kamaishi and Yoshihama stations on the South-Rias Line, and the 10.5-km section between Tanohata and Omoto stations on the North-Rias Line. They will reopen on April 5 and 6, respectively.
The Sanriku Railway has 107.6 km of track that traverses scenic coastal routes in Iwate Prefecture.
The lines were badly damaged in the disaster. Station buildings and sections of rail track were swept out to sea by the tsunami. The railway was forced to suspend all its train services immediately after the March 11 disaster, but five days later it resumed partial operations free of charge to help lift the spirits of survivors.
The Sanriku Railway was the model for a rail line that appeared in the 2013 Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) drama “Amachan.” The show helped thrust the railway into the national spotlight.
Between April and November 2013, the number of passengers (excluding season ticket users) increased to 210,000, up 60 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Restoration efforts have steadily continued since partial operations resumed.
The government has provided more than 9 billion yen ($87.8 million) for the restoration work. With the resumption of the full operations, Sanriku Railway will introduce five additional train cars called “ozashiki ressha,” which will have interiors done up in the style of a traditional Japanese-style sitting room.