Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Five Years Since Then

Diesel hybrid train, JR East HB-E210 series arrives at Sendai Station

Five years have passed since the 3.11 giant earthquake hit the Tohoku District of Japan. Nearly 20,000 people were killed, mainly by a giant tsunami, which followed the powerful quake that day. To make matters worse, the nuclear power plant disaster, which was caused by the tsunami, is still forcing many people from their home towns in Fukushima Prefecture. Fortunately, there were no victims of train passengers because of the quake. The railways were saved by earthquake resistant construction and the advanced earthquake warning system; however, some routes, such as the JR East Joban Line, are still partially suspended due to the damage caused by the tsunami.

As the saying goes, "out of disaster springs fortune." I believe that people in Tohoku District have been recovering from the devastating casualties, as they have good patience and a strong social bond. A good example is Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture. Matsushima is one of the three scenic spots of Japan. When I visited there last summer, I saw many holiday makers embarking on excursion ships from Matsushima Port the same as before the 3.11.

To get to this beautiful spot, the JR East Senseki-Tohoku Line is convenient. The new diesel hybrid vehicle, HB-E210 series, was launched last year. It is a 2-car train with diesels, lithium-ion batteries and induction motors. Its specification is similar to that of the KiHa E200 series on the Koumi Line, but the HB-E210 series has 6 doors per car, as it is a commuter train.

Scenic view of Matsushima near Matsushima Station on the Tohoku Line