Thomas steam locomotive back in service in Shizuoka Pref.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Thomas the Tank Engine steam locomotive runs on the Oigawa Main Line, of which operations have been partially resumed, in Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Friday.

SHIMADA, Shizuoka — Steam locomotives, including the popular Thomas the Tank Engine, are back in service on part of the Oigawa Main Line in Shizuoka Prefecture as railway operations resumed Friday after being closed due to damage caused by a typhoon.

Oigawa Railway Co. resumed services on the 17.1-kilometer section between Kanaya and Ieyama stations on the railway line, which extends 39.5 kilometers between Kanaya and Senzu stations. The line had been suspended since Typhoon No. 15 caused problems such as sediment flows on Sept. 24, and restoration work had been performed since then.

Trains carrying passengers departed from Kanaya and Ieyama stations on Friday morning.

“Buses used as alternative transportation are delayed sometimes because of traffic congestion, so it’s great that the trains are back in operation,” said a 58-year-old woman who boarded a train at Ieyama Station.

“I’m glad because it’s convenient,” said a high school student.

On the same day, a steam locomotive made a round trip between Shin-Kanaya and Ieyama stations. The trip is 14.8 kilometers one way.

“I like the train’s retro atmosphere,” said a 62-year-old man from Aichi Prefecture who rode the Express Kawaneji steam locomotive. “Its whistle is also fantastic.”

Local residents held up uchiwa handheld fans with words on encouragement for the railway company written on them and welcomed the Kawaneji steam locomotive at Ieyama Station.

“This area has been energized by the steam locomotives,” said Fumiko Morishita, 75, a volunteer tour guide. “I want to support [the railway company] so that it won’t succumb to the damage caused by the typhoon.”

A railway company spokesperson said: “Only half of the section has been restored, but it’s a relief to see that the sevrice is back.”

The company will continue to provide customers with alternative transportation by bus as the prospect for the resumption of services between Ieyama and Senzu stations remains not in sight.