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Typhoon-devastated famous Hakone train line shown to Japan media

The badly damaged tracks of the Hakone Tozan Railway line are seen lying near the Jakotsu Bridge in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Nov. 6, 2019, after being swept away by the side of the mountain that collapsed as a result of record-breaking rain triggered by Typhoon Hagibis in mid-October. (Mainichi/Haruo Sawa)

HAKONE, Kanagawa -- A local railway company showed two areas where soil below tracks was swept away after being hit by heavy rain triggered by Typhoon Hagibis in mid-October to news organizations on Nov. 6.

Service on the famous Hakone Tozan Railway line has been suspended since Oct. 13 after the typhoon, this year's 19th, lashed central and eastern Japan.

Hakone Tozan Railway Co. allowed the press to enter areas around the Kowakudani crossing and the Jakotsu Bridge -- two of four locations hit particularly hard by the disaster.

A large amount of muddy water flowed onto the tracks from National Route 1 that intersects the tracks at the Kowakudani Crossing, washing away a massive amount of soil below the tracks. At the deepest point, three meters or more of soil had been hollowed out.

The area near the Jakotsu Bridge was hardest hit by the disaster. A section about 100-meters long and 20-meters wide of a mountain slope along the line collapsed, and swept away about an 80-meter-long section of the tracks, including the 38-meter long bridge's girder and piers, along with electric poles, signals and fallen trees toward the Jakotsu River.

Soil below the tracks near the Ohiradai Tunnel was swept away and a massive volume of rocks and stones flowed into an area near the Osawa Bridge, burying the tracks, according to company officials.

Since work to remove fallen trees and soil from all sections other than the four locations has progressed steadily, railway officials believe service can be resumed on most sections of the line at an early date.

However, company officials fear that a resumption of operations on sections around the Jakotsu Bridge will likely be delayed. It is necessary to take measures to prevent a slope near the bridge from collapsing but it is difficult to bring heavy machinery into the mountainous area.

The company is poised to deliberate on-site surveys and methods for restoration, as well as consult with the national and prefectural governments and other relevant organizations and aims to announce a schedule for the resumption of full operations on the railway by the end of this year.

(Japanese original by Haruo Sawa, Odawara Local Bureau)

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