• Jiji

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A rail line in central Japan fully reopened on Sunday, following a shutdown after an iconic red bridge partially collapsed as a result of Typhoon Hagibis in 2019.

About 100 local residents and railway fans welcomed the day’s first train by waving or taking photos as it crossed the bridge over the Chikuma River in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture.

Teruko Tanaka, a 73-year-old woman who often visited the river during her childhood days, said, “The red bridge is a place of memory.” Progress in reconstruction “brings hope to everyone,” she said.

The bridge was built in 1924 on the 11.6-kilometer Bessho Line, run by Uedadentetsu Co. In October 2019, a 44-meter portion of the 224-meter bridge fell after the river swelled due to torrential rain from the typhoon.

Residents had submitted about 54,000 signatures to the Ueda Municipal Government calling for the early restoration of the Bessho Line. Donations had totaled nearly ¥100 million as of the end of February.

A 40-year-old Ueda native waved a handmade flag reading “Welcome back! Bessho Line.” Looking at trains crossing the red bridge, he said, “This is the true Bessho Line.”

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