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Iwate railway introduces new train cars to run on line hit by 2011 tsunami

Sanriku Railway Co.'s new train cars are transported into the Kuji rail yard in the Iwate Prefecture city of Kuji, after arriving at JR Kuji Station, on Nov. 13, 2018. (Mainichi/Ayumi Kanuka)

KUJI, Iwate -- New train carriages that will run along a local line that was heavily damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami were displayed to the media on Nov. 13 at a rail yard here in northeast Japan.

Sanriku Railway Co. will handle operations of the 55.4-kilometer section between Miyako and Kamaishi stations. The section that will be transferred from East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) is planned to resume operations from March 23, 2019. It will link the "Kita-Riasu Line," from Kuji Station to Miyako Station, and the "Minami-Riasu Line," from Kamaishi Station to Sakari Station.

The approximately 163-kilometer section between Kuji Station and Sakari Station will be renamed the "Riasu Line." It will become the longest route of those operated by public-private joint ventures that have taken over lines operated by JR companies or their predecessor Japanese National Railways.

Eight new train cars will be introduced for service on the Miyako-Kamaishi section that is now the JR Yamada Line. Their specifications are very similar to already existing cars operated on the Kita-Riasu and Minami-Riasu lines, but the designs will have slightly rounder features.

(Japanese original by Ayumi Kanuka, Morioka Bureau)

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