JR East plans to reopen entire Joban Line by March 2020
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (The Japan News/ANN) - East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) aims to reopen a section of the Joban Line in Fukushima Prefecture by March 2020, thus restoring the entire length of the line from Ueno Station in Tokyo to Sendai for the first time since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
JR East revealed to the press on Thursday the progress of reconstruction work on a 20.8-kilometer stretch of the JR Joban Line between Tomioka and Namie stations that was suspended due to the earthquake and the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Three sites between Futaba Station in Futaba — a town near the nuclear power plant — and Ono Station in the town of Okuma were opened to reporters. All are within evacuated areas designated as “difficult to return.” At one of the sites, a bridge over the Maeda River, a bridge girder had collapsed due to the earthquake. The bridge span across the river has been restored and new track laid across it.
According to JR East, about 80 percent of restoration work has been completed on the stretch of track. Work will now focus on installing equipment such as overhead wires and signals.
The government has designated areas within “difficult to return” zones around Futaba Station, Ono Station and Yonomori Station on the Joban Line as special reconstruction zones in the hope that residents will eventually return. Towns in the area hope evacuation orders around the stations will be cancelled by the time the stretch of the Joban Line reopens.