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Train runs to resume on another Joban Line stretch Dec. 10, fukushima minpo, 8/09/2016

original article:http://fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=705

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) announced July 28 it will resume regular train runs Dec. 10 on another stretch of the Joban Line damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. To be reopened is a 22.6-kilometer portion between Soma Station in Soma city, Fukushima Prefecture, and Hamayoshida Station in Watari town, Miyagi Prefecture.

It follows the resumption of train services on a 9.4-kilometer stretch of the line between Odaka and Haranomachi stations in Minamisoma city on July 12 when an evacuation order was lifted in most parts of the Fukushima Prefecture city hit by the tsunami-caused nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Soma-Hamayoshida link will thus connect Minamisoma’s Odaka district to the Miyagi prefectural capital Sendai by rail.

The Soma-Hamayoshida stretch includes an 18.2-kilometer route between Komagamine Station in Shinchi town and Hamayoshida, with tracks for 14.6 kilometers of the route moved inland from an area close to the coastline. The Shinchi Station structure that was washed away by the tsunami is being rebuilt at a location about 300 meters southwest. The route was initially scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2017 but the date for resumption has been moved up following faster-than-expected progress in land purchases.

The last suspended stretch, from Tatsuta Station in Naraha town to Odaka Station, will remain closed for the present due to its location close to the crippled nuclear plant but JR East plans to reopen it gradually by the end of fiscal 2019 on March 31, 2020.



Train runs resume on JR Joban Line in Minamisoma city after hiatus of 5 years, 4 months, fukushima minpo, 7/13/2016

Regular train service resumed on a 9.4-kilometer stretch of East Japan Railway’s Joban Line in Minamisoma city on July 12 after being suspended for five years and four months since the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. The reopening of the railway line between Haranomachi and Odaka stations was timed with the day’s lifting of an evacuation order in most parts of the city.

A ceremony marking the resumed service was held at Haranomachi Station ahead of the first train’s departure at 7:15 a.m. Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai and other officials delivered speeches at the ceremony, and boarded the train together with passengers who had long waited for trains to start running again.

The inaugural train arrived at Odaka Station around 7:30 a.m. Local residents cheered as a crowd of passengers disembarked. Nine ordinary train runs are operated a day on northbound and southbound lines each.

Tohoku railway to absorb tsunami-hit line in bid to reinvigorate region, asahi shinbun, 12/21/2014

MORIOKA–A scenic section of a JR line that hugs the Sanriku coastline and was all but torn apart in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami will be transferred to a local railway, with the aim of speeding up the area’s revitalization.

Under the plan proposed by East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), local operator Sanriku Railway Co. will take over running a 55.4-kilometer section of the Yamada Line that connected Iwate Prefecture’s Miyako and Kamaishi to the south.

The transfer will be formally decided at a Dec. 24 meeting in Morioka of heads of 12 coastal municipalities and Iwate Prefecture.

Though no date has been set for resuming operations on the section, the move is expected to facilitate reconstruction in the area that was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the towering tsunami that were generated.

Sanriku Railway resumed full service on its disaster-hit lines in April. The transfer of Yamada Line operations will reconnect the railway’s South and North Rias lines, which start from Kamaishi and Miyako, respectively.

JR East has provided bus service on the route along the Yamada Line following the tsunami, which inundated station buildings and destroyed sections of track.

In January, the company submitted a draft plan to transfer authority of the line to Sanriku Railway, under which it would provide railway track for free to municipalities concerned after the line was restored at a cost of 14 billion yen ($117 million).

At the time, the towns of Otsuchi and Yamada, where Sanriku Railway is not running, opposed the plan, arguing it could impose new burdens.

However, the towns agreed after JR East in November offered to pay a total of 3 billion yen, up from an original 500 million yen, to the local municipalities to offset the burden. They also accepted the proposal so as not to prolong negotiations, which could affect reconstruction.

JR East plans to replace more than 90 percent of railway tracks on the section in question with higher-standard models, and ties with those made of concrete.

It will also provide train carriages for free, and provide employee training and other forms of support.

Sanriku Railway was thrust into the spotlight as the model for a railway operator in the popular 2013 Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) drama “Amachan.”

(This article was written by Toru Saito and Shiori Tabuchi.)

Famed Sanriku Railway soon back to pre-disaster operations, asahi, 1/28/2014

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.

day 7, the park; day off, and stories

yesterday I worked in the park, placing some bricks and digging some dirt. the park looks amazing–completely different from how it was in july, when it was still being cleaned up. it has lots of new playground equipment and structures. towards the end of the days, some kids showed up and were very excited to come into the park and play. I talked a little with the grandma that came with them. she said that they all live in the same block (they were different ages, around 6 or 7 kids), and although they had a park near their homes, it’s been use for temporary housing, so the kids have nowhere to play. as we watched them run and jump in the sand area over and over again, it was clear how much they need this kind of space, and how much they will use the park. the opening will be on nov 12, the last days of the all hands project in ofunato.

today was our day off, and I took a long long walk near the river, and back to the center of ofunato–actually where I had visited in the beginning of april with K sensei and M sensei. now it’s been cleaned up quite a bit, and bulldozers are still at work picking up rubble, mostly concrete. but because of the sunken land levels, there are large areas that are flooded there now.

although there’s progress in cleanup, the scale of damage is still overwhelming. although thinking back on the situation of new orleans 6/7 months after katrina, everything here seems more on track.

I stopped by my favorite coffee shop and chatted with the owner a bit (I had already been there in july, and heard how they opened the cafe a few months before the tsunami, and what was damaged). we talked about how the life in temporary housing will be cold in winter, especially for the elderly, and she told me how many people are now in a difficult place emotionally–up until now they have made a lot of effort to do what need to, but now they are feeling like they just want to give up, that they don’t have anything to live for really. this is what she hears from her customers. she thanked me again for coming here to volunteer, and said that it means a lot for the people here.

then I stopped in to the little community space by jr sakari station (sakari is on part of ofunato city, where all hands has its base). the railway was destroyed by the tsunami, and the train car that was sitting in the station has been used for some community activities as well, since a few months ago. they give out tea and sell some local products and crafts that are handmade by ladies living in temporary housing. I think they are supporting both the livelihood of disaster victims, and also raising money for the reconstruction of the train line. they said that it’s been decided that the train will be back up and running again in 2 years, in the same location–along the coast, but elevated in some places, which hopefully can act as a kind of barrier for future tsunamis.


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