Tsunami-hit Iwate rail line partially reopens, gets cars with Kuwaiti aid


A Sanriku Railway Co. passenger line devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami partially reopened for service Wednesday, with new rolling stock bought with the help of the Kuwaiti government.

The partial relaunch of the Minami Riasu Line after more than two years was marked with a special run. A 21.6-km stretch is now operating between Sakari and Yoshihama stations in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture.

The tsunami washed away station buildings and tracks. Three of the line’s single-car trains were destroyed. Sanriku Railway bought three new carriages with financial aid from Kuwait and painted cherry blossoms on the sole surviving car.

The railway plans to reopen other damaged sections by next April, including a 15-km stretch on the Minami Riasu Line between Yoshihama and Kamaishi stations, and a 10.5-km stretch between Omoto and Tanohata stations on the Kita Riasu Line.