ONAGAWA, Miyagi Prefecture–After a four-year wait, trains are up and running the full length of the restored JR Ishinomaki Line, which was ravaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
The first train left Onagawa Station at 6:12 a.m. on March 21. The first incoming train arrived at 7:30 a.m., greeted by a throng of residents waving flags used to celebrate large catches by fishing boats.
The entire line extends 44.7 kilometers through Miyagi Prefecture, eastward from Kogota Station in Misato to Onagawa Station via Ishinomaki Station in Ishinomaki.
The 2.3-km stretch through the last two stations of Urashuku and Onagawa had remained unconnected after tsunami up to 20 meters high swept the tracks away.
Major facilities, including the Onagawa station building and town government office, as well as 70 percent of all households, were destroyed, and 827 people, accounting for 8 percent of the town’s population, perished.
Though all services on the line were halted due to the disaster, the line’s operator, East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), partially restarted operations in April 2011.
Service on the rest of the line resumed in March 2013, with the exception of the final two stops.
Urashuku and Onagawa stations were reopened to passengers after the completion of work to elevate land in the town in case of a future tsunami. The downtown area where the latter station is located was raised by as much as 15 meters in some areas.
The station’s new building, which was designed to resemble the silhouette of a black-tailed gull spreading its wings, cost 850 million yen ($7 million) to build.
With service now available on the entire line, trains will be making a total of 11 runs a day.