Thursday, 1 March 2012

Recovery from the Tsunami

Airport access train, EMU Sendai Airport Transit 721 series arrives at snowy Sendai Station

When the giant tsunami following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Tohoku District on March 11, 2011, the tide gauge near Sendai Airport recorded a 5.7m high. The airstrip and the main building, located 1km west of the coast, were severely damaged. The airport access railway, which connects Sendai City and the airport, also suffered catastrophic damage. Specifically, the underground track between Sendai Airport and Mitazono stations was fully-submerged. The airport was closed for about one month, meanwhile it took 7 months to recover the railway.

The Sendai Airport Access Railway (total 17.5km) is a composite route of two lines. One of them is the Sendai Airport Line of Sendai Airport Transit (SAT). The other is a part of the Tohoku Main Line of JR East. The former line is quite new as it was opened in 2007. Both SAT and JR East operate their own trains alternately. They are EMU SAT 721 series (see the top photo) and JR East 721-500 series (the bottom photo). The design and the specification are the same, but the coloring is different. SAT's trains are blue and orange colored, whilst JR East's trains are green and blue.

This airport access railway is very convenient. It takes only 17 minutes from the center of Sendai City to the airport. It gains an upper hand over the bus services in speed. So, passengers had been eagerly waiting for the recovery of the railway.

The star of the airport access transportation finally staged a comeback on October 1st, 2011.

Note: Sendai is the main city of Miyagi Prefecture, 300km north of Tokyo.

Airport access train, EMU JR East E721-500 series at snowy Sendai Station