Steam Locomotive in Japan’s Fukushima Pref. Marks 25th Anniversary of Service; Ceremony Held to Cerebrate Milestone of SL Banetsu Monogatari

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People celebrate the arrival of the SL Banetsu Monogatari train to a platform at Aizu-Wakamatsu Station on Monday.

AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Fukushima — A steam locomotive on the JR Banetsu-saisen line on Monday marked the 25th anniversary of its sightseeing service.

People holding banners celebrated the arrival of SL Banetsu Monogatari at Aizu-Wakamatsu Station in Fukushima Prefecture, a terminus for the train service.

The steam locomotive had been preserved at Niitsu Daiichi Elementary School in Niigata. It was restored to operation and the service started on April 29, 1999.

Mainly on weekends and national holidays, except those in winter, the train connects Aizu-Wakamatsu Station and Niitsu Station in Niigata — a roughly three-hour journey.

The train service is famous for its rich natural scenery which passengers can enjoy.

At a ceremony on Monday, there was a performance by the University of Aizu Wind Ensemble, and employees of East Japan Railway Co. and train fans celebrated the arrival of the steam locomotive to a platform of the station.

Aizu-Wakamatsu Mayor Shohei Muroi said, “I’m glad to welcome passengers on the milestone day. I hope people will continue to have fun [on the train] for a long to come.”