INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1239 22 AUGUST 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
The PTG Hungary Enthusiasts
Tour visited the MÁV works at
Szolnok, dominated by the
recently restored Kőrösi úti
víztorony (Kőrösi road water
tower). The 27m high tower
was built between 1895-96 (or
1900, sources vary) and was in
very poor condition when it
was declared a national
monument in 2000. After a
considerable study renovation
started and was completed in
late May 2011 with an official
opening on 17 June 2011.
 Austria - Unusual tram track identified in Wien
Wien has a branch off tram line 6 which runs to the main underground and tram workshops. There are
some tram workings for staff only but by chance a member discovered that there is one public working a
day Monday to Friday in each direction: The trams are signed for route 71. The 14:26 Borse (14:59 ex
Simmering station) runs onto the branch and discharges passengers at a stop 299m from where the line
branches off line 6. The tram then runs into the works to collect staff and reappears to work the 15:14
back to Borse. It picks up at a stop 61m nearer the works gates then the set down stop.
 Bulgaria - Burgas airport to get rail link
A plan to build a rail link to Burgas airport, the second busiest in the country, has been announced. The
project would require the construction of around 2 km of new line. An ongoing project to modernise
Burgas station is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
 Denmark - A members trip to Germany, Denmark and Sweden, 19 May – 22 May (Part 2)
The next morning, after enquiring at the Hauptbahnhof Travel Centre and checking online, it was
established that the normally hourly service from Hamburg to Neumünster, and from there to Flensburg,
was reduced to one every 2 hours, so in order to make the booked connection onwards to Denmark, It
would be necessary to leave an hour earlier, at 05:35. Still, the trains ran as advertised and at least it
meant there was time to have breakfast at the small but pleasant bistro in Flensburg station.
There then followed a long journey north, using the comfortable DSB Inter City units, punctuated by a trip
down the Sønderborg branch, where the harbour branch has disappeared under redevelopment.
Travelling north again, it was noted that work was in progress on doubling the line between Vojens and
Vamdrup, the last remaining single line section north of Tinglev. There was also major work going on
around Middelfart, which was delaying services by up to 20 minutes. From here it was a 4 hour journey
north to Frederikshavn, during which the lack of catering facilities on DSB services was keenly felt.
Fortunately the stations where changes were made had well stocked buffets or shops, which helped. The
double track line from Fredericia to Aalborg is notable for a number of stretches where the two tracks run
on separate alignments. Most of them are of the 'GWR' type, with vertical rather than horizontal
separation, but there is one section, between Skoerping and Stoevring, where the two tracks diverge quite
considerably for a few kilometres, and are out of sight of each other for most of the time. Also of note was
that the train on this part of the journey had four portions, although two of them were effectively short
workings rather than continuing on to other destinations. A benefit of this was that the times allowed for
splitting the train at Arhus and Aalborg were quite generous so that, although 20 late leaving Middelfart,
the train arrived on time at Frederiskshavn, thus making a 7 minute connection into the final train of the
day to Skagen.
Skagen is situated on a narrow spit of land at the extreme north east of West Denmark. The line that
serves it runs through flat countryside, initially agricultural, but towards the end of the journey, it becomes
a spectacular landscape of scrub and dunes. Skagen itself is a really characterful little town with lots of
hotels and restaurants, but also an active harbour with a still used rail connection. A branch curves away to
the right just short of the passenger station and threads its way close to the town centre as far as the
harbour entrance. Here there is now just a single siding for reversal, as the line then heads off up a road
within the dock estate, which runs parallel to the shore line. Unfortunately there was not enough time to
follow it any further, but there is a factory on the seaward side of the harbour which may be the ultimate
An early start the next day allowed enough time to cover the other far north branch, to Hirtshals. Both this
and the Skagen branch are operated privately by Nordjyske Jernbaner using Desiro units. Interrail holders
receive a 50% discount on both branches, and tickets can be bought from a machine on the train. Hirtshals
is another busy port, in this case incorporating a passenger ferry terminal, with services operated by Color
Line (to Kristiansand in Norway), Fjord Line (to various Norwegian destinations including Stavanger and
Bergen) and Smyril (to Iceland and the Faroe Islands). There is track work under construction for what
appears to be a new freight terminal alongside the penultimate station, Lilleheden. The branch has
frequent stops, all request, and was quite busy, so its future looks bright.
An evening view of a Nordjyske Jernbaner DMU on arrival at Skagen.
A return south to Åarhus was followed by an uncomfortably long (three and a half hour) journey on an
Arriva low floor unit working the service to Struer, and then on to Thisted. Here, after a 4 minute break,
the same train was taken back to Struer, which meant another 85 minutes on a unit really designed for
short journeys. To be fair the scenery was pleasant enough, especially the first part of the line north of
Struer which includes some coastal running with stunning views and which involves crossing an inlet by an
impressive road and rail bridge. The travelling day ended with a journey on an Inter City unit to Vejle.
 France - Update on presently closed passenger lines
Ste Pazanne - Pornic and St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Re-opening delayed while audits and corrective actions
carried out to sub-standard work done by sub-contractors. Ste Pazanne – Pornic reopens 30 August.
Cambo-les-Bains - Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is scheduled to re-open on 19 October 2015.
Paimpol - Guingamp. Work on relaying is likely to start in September 2016.
Clermont Ferrand - Nîmes: The ‘Cevenol’ line remains closed between Langeac and Langogne, with no re-
opening date in sight. Recovery work has yet to start more than four months after the rock-fall. Under
pressure from local residents to resolve the position, the Department is to instigate legal proceedings with
the World Wildlife Fund who own the land and cliff-face adjacent to the blocked line and RD 40. The
tourist trains are operating on Wednesdays and Thursdays during August between Langeac and Monistrol
 France - Two curves open, and another (incomplete) curve being built
Two freight curves opened on 17 May 2015: Racc. d'Honnechy (northeast - northwest, north of Busigny)
and Racc. d'Aulnoye-Sud (east - south) at Leval. The first is certainly a re-opening - the second I suspect is
completely new. They provide an electrified alternative to the Hirson to Lille route via Valenciennes.
Restoration of a curve for passengers is under way west of Bordeaux, linking Mérignac-Arlac (on the
Ceinture de Bordeaux, leading to the ligne du Médoc) and Pessac (on the main line to Hendaye). This
should open in 2016, for 10 TER daily between Macau (ligne du Médoc) and Pessac. There will not be a
connection to the Bordeaux – Hendaye line at Pessac, so it’s more a short branch than a curve. The new
service will link with Bordeaux tram A at Mérignac-Arlac, and with tram B and with TERs on the main line at
 Germany – It’s all happening in Augsburg
The city of Augsburg is planning to construct a new tram line and a tram/rail interchange beneath the main
station as part of its wider Project Augsburg City urban regeneration project. The basic structure of the
eastern entrance ramp to the future underground station at Augsburg Hauptbahnhof was completed
earlier this year, although track and electrification have not yet been installed. The 120m-long ramp takes
the track down to a depth of 14m and was constructed using cut-and-cover techniques. Work is now
underway to build the 400m double-track underground section, which is at 90 degrees to the heavy rail
lines above. The tram platforms will be located beneath a new underground ticket hall, which is being
constructed as part of the modernisation of the station, and this will create a three-level transport
interchange. Immediately west of the new underground tram station an underground turning loop will be
built, underneath part of the current freight yard, enabling trams to turn back to the city centre from the
main station. Construction of the underground ticket hall and tram station will require partial closure of
the mainline station so structures can be built beneath the existing platforms and tracks. To aid this
process a completely new platform will be added on the western side of the station which will increase
capacity from 2017. The €177m underground tram station is due to open in 2022. The city is also planning
to build a new tram Line 5 from Luitpoldbrücke station on Line 3 west of the main station to Klinikum via
P+R Augsburg West. Both of these stations are located at the end of existing line 2 which runs northwest
from the city centre via Augsburg Oberhausen mainline station. Construction costs for the 4.2km line,
which will include four new stations, are estimated at €62m. Detailed design is now underway and final
planning permission is due to be granted later this year, enabling construction to begin. Services are
expected to start in 2019.
 Germany - News from around the Länder
Hessen :- Diez to Bad Schwalbach and Wiesbaden Dotzheim. Museum trains were suspended in 2009
following damage to an underbridge caused by road traffic and damage to pointwork. The society
operating the trains, Nassauischen Touristikbahn (NTB) has not been able to gain access to the line for
some time. A company which is effectively owned by the City of Wiesbaden leased the line from DB in
November 2014. Another company, this time linked to NTB, has been formed which should allow NTB
access once again to carry out work to cut down all of the vegetation which has sprung up since 2009. The
City of Wiesbaden had also set aside money to help fund refurbishment and operations in the future,
although this has been challenged. The underbridge near Dotzheim over Flachstrasse, currently with a
3.6m headroom, has been struck a number of times and there are plans to raise the headroom to 4.5m to
cure this problem.
Niedersachsen :- Emmerthal to Bodenwerder. This line has been taken over by Kieswerk Lammert and
Reese, who intend to refurbish the currently disused section between Grohnde and Bodenwerde Kemnade
(out of use since about 2003) and run gravel trains.
Spelle to Quackenbruck - Long stretches of this long closed line have finally been lifted. The last special
train was 1989.
Recently published long-term plans do not envisage a full reopening of the Moorexpress line (Osterholz-
Scharmbeck - Bremervörde). It is currently used by passenger trains at weekends and on public holidays on
a seasonal basis. Increasing the frequency of some services and opening new stations such as Universitat -
Technologie Park and Bremen Horn - Achterdieck are the main focusses of the report.
Nordenham Blexen to Nordenham - The Eisenbahn Bundesamt (EBA) has given permission for the closure
of the section from Friedrich-August- Hutte to Anschlussstelle Einswarden. A company called Regio Infra
GmbH & Co KG was interested in taking over the line from DB Netz, but was unable to conclude
negotiations with them before the closure deadline ran out. The closure conditions allow DB not to spend
money on the line, but seem to allow Regio Infra to acquire the line at a later date.
Nordrhein–Westfalen :- Osberghausen to Waldbröl. Reopening of the section beyond Wiehl towards
Waldbröl is still awaited.
Saarland/Rheinland Pfalz :- Homburg (Saar) – Zweibrücken. A cost benefit analysis has concluded that the
line is indeed worth reopening. Financial and other agreements now need to be concluded, and quickly to
allow the project to be included in current programmes which run until 2019.
Sachsen :- Döbeln to Meissen Triebischtal is to close to passengers in December 2015.
Riesa - Chemnitz - The section from Mittweida to Chemnitz is closed to allow the Ottendorf viaduct,
originally built in 1852. to be replaced. Work will also be carried out at the same time on some bridges at
Mittweida station. The closure lasts until 3 October. Passenger trains will be replaced by buses. Freight
traffic will be diverted by either Dresden or Leipzig.
Schleswig–Holstein :- When the new (higher speed) line is opened from Puttgarden to Lübeck, local
politicians are hoping that the existing line from Lübeck to Neustadt (Holst) will be retained to serve the
coastal communities. The new line would be further from the sea and there are pressures to cut costs by
not opening replacement intermediate stations on the new line. One suggestion involves building an
interchange station near to Neustadt which will link both the new line and the existing local line.
 Greece – Thessaloniki avoiding line in use
Damage caused by heavy winter rainfall has led to the Gallikos river bridge on the Thessaloniki - Idomeni
line being declared unsuitable for traffic. Accordingly from 22 July the ‘Hellas’ International train (train
numbers 334/335) from Beograd to Thessaloniki and v.v., is diverted from Ghefira to Axios, which is the
Thessaloniki avoiding line. The last time this was in use was between 2006-7 when a pair of freights ran
daily from Idomeni direct to Athens. Works on the disabled bridge have not started yet, but it is estimated
that it will take more than 6 months to repair, or replace the bridge.
 Hungary - Interesting visit to Szolnok branches
The PTG Hungary Enthusiasts tour in July 2015 enjoyed a comprehensive visit to the Szolnok area with its
extensive freight yards, numerous freight curves and avoiding lines, loco depot, loco works and several
industrial branches. Four industrial lines can be accessed from a long siding off the non-electrified single
track passenger line from Szolnok to Lakitelek. The siding includes the Szolnok southern marshalling yard
(Déli partelepi rendező), earlier called Piroska Gyártelep, which translates as Little Red Riding Hood Yard. A
sign by two white buildings at the southern end of the yard still bears the name Piroska. The most
southerly branch, which serves an industrial area, could not be visited due to engineering works, but the
next one north could, and the tour progressed to the end of the line at a concrete works owned by H-
Beton. The next branch was taken as far as a siding serving AlcuFer, a scrap metal recycling facility, but it
was the most northerly of the four branches, passing through the southern suburbs of Szolnok, that was
the most interesting.
Immediately the branch is gained the huge MÁV locomotive works (more correctly known as Máv-Start Zrt
Szolnoki Járműjavító), its origins dating from 1856, is on the right behind a wall, but with lines of locos
clearly visible. Once past the works a former junction is reached. The line used to continue straight on,
after 300 metres passing the first railway station in Hungary, built as the terminus of the Pest-Szolnok
railway and opened 1 September 1847. This was built in a neoclassical style and still stands today, though
covered by scaffolding at the time of the visit.
Ószolnok vasútállomás (Old Szolnok railway station) in 2008
The line used to continue a little further to a loading facility by the Tisza river. No trace remains of this
former branch, and today the line bends south to pass between domestic housing and light industry
before crossing a road to enter a gate into the extensive site of BI-KA Logisztika.
The use of GPS on a smart phone, in combination with a free
maps package, can be used to find out exactly where you are
and where you have got to on a railway line. However, in this
case ME Maps did not have the industrial siding to BI-KA
marked, so the blue arrow showing location of the mobile
phone (and train) is some distance from the nearest railway
line that IS marked. The train has, in fact, entered the BI-KA
This major Hungarian transport company had had their line certified for use by six axle locomotives so the
special train could run through the entire site, crossing another road and passing through two more gates,
before reaching a loading platform 3km from the junction by the MÁV works.
The loading platform at the end of the line in the BI-KA Logisztika site in Szolnok
On returning, gates had been opened so the train could pass through the MÁV works – a welcome bonus
for the loco spotters, and one which permitted a picture of the newly renovated historic water tower, as
shown on page 1 with more detailed information.
 Poland - Jelenia Góra to Zebrzydowa line visited
This line has one train each way (Wrocław - Zebrzydowa - Jelenia Góra and back) on Saturdays and Sundays
only. It reopened in the timetable period commencing 15 December 2014. The southernmost section from
Jelenia Góra to Lwówek Śląski had a better service in the past, with between 2 and 3 train pairs daily.
Trains are allowed 1h 48m for the 32.5 km from Jelenia Góra to Lwówek Śląski, an average speed of 18
km/h. On a journey in late April all this time was required as the train crawled along poor quality track at a
funereal speed. From Lwówek Śląski to Zebrzydowa, the 28.4 km was allowed 55m - a lightning average of
31 km/h, which caused your correspondent some concern that the times might be unrealistic. However, on
this section of line which he had thought was more at risk of closure, the quality of track improved
markedly and the train positively flew along at over 30 km/h. One likely reason for this improved quality
was a very shiny branch from a mine, which joined before Rakowice Wielkie. A slightly rusty private line
joined almost at right angles at Niwnice.
So it appears that there is a reasonable amount of freight traffic north of Lwówek Śląski but probably little
or none south thereof. One wonders if this passenger service will remain. Very few passengers apart from
two enthusiasts were on board when the train left Jelenia Góra but it gradually filled up as it progressed
northwards, with patronage being heavier north of Lwówek Śląski. As there is no train on a Friday one
wonders how these presumed weekenders travel to the area; perhaps they wait for the Saturday morning
train from Wrocław.
 Serbia/Bosnia-Hercegovina – Visit to the Šargan Eight
The Šargan Eight is a restored narrow gauge line in Serbia rising from Mokra Gora up the Šargan mountain
to Šargan Vitasi via a highly complex layout involving over 20 tunnels. The line used to form part of the
Beograd - Dubrovnik route, which closed in 1974. The restoration has been extended across the border to
Visegrad in the Republika Srpska, part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but through workings are rare, as border
controls are thorough. Nevertheless the Railway Touring Company group was able to pick up a special train
on the Serbian side of the border, which was allowed to reverse some distance into "no-man's land"
before proceeding back to Mokra Gora. Having done the normal Šargan Eight tourist run the next day, the
group were treated on their final day to a bonus steam-hauled trip on the secondary line from Lapovo to
Beograd via Mala Krsna, the line via Mladenovac being temporarily closed. However this did not go well,
starting some hours late as the engine was not properly warmed up. Delays mounted due to mechanical
problems, ostensibly due to poor coal quality and serious pathing delays on the single track. Eventually the
trip had to be abandoned at 22:00, a few miles outside Beograd, in the Jacinci area it is believed. The group
had to scramble down the steps of a steep embankment, aided only by torches, on to the adjoining main
road where their coach was summoned. Serbian railways had refused to provide a rescue diesel as the
steam engine was not deemed a total failure.
 Slovakia/Hungary - Veľký Krtíš ‘branch’ truncated
The Slovakian branch line from Lučenec to Veľký Krtíš is unusual in that the middle section is in Hungary
and is the end portion of a MAV branch line from Balassagyarmat to Ipolytarnóc. The map, courtesy of
europeanrailwayatlas.com, makes the geography clearer, although a revision will soon be necessary. Coal
mining has now ended at Malé Straciny and that means the timber traffic from Veľký Krtíš is insufficient to
justify keeping the line open. The Nógrádszakál - Veľký Krtíš section was expected to close to all traffic by
the end of July. The northern cross border section from Lučenec - Ipolytarnóc is still available but has no
 Spain – Four km extension to Barcelona suburban network opens
Catalan regional operator FGC held a ceremony on 28 July to mark the opening of the 4 km extension of
route S1 of its 1435 mm gauge Vallès network. Service trains commenced running the following day.
Running from Terrassa-Rambla to Terrassa Nacions Unides northwest of Barcelona, the extension has
three stations, including an interchange with Renfe’s Line R4 at Terrassa. The route is in twin 6.9 m
diameter bored tunnels at a depth of between 14·4 m and 37·5 m. The cost was €401m, including a
remodelling of Terrassa-Rambla station. A new depot has been built at Can Roca, beyond the new
Work is still in progress on the associated extension from Sabadell Estació to Sabadell Ca n'Oriac, which is
not expected to open until 2016. This will involve closure of the existing Sabadell Estació - Sabadell Rambla
 Spain - Delays on AVE connection cause rethink
Construction of the connection between the new Medina del Campo AVE station (yet to be built) and the
line to Salamanca (via a gauge changer) is delayed. RENFE are considering running high speed trains to
Salamanca via the existing line from Olmedo to Medina del Campo (Norte) (i.e. not closing it on opening of
the AVE to Zamora) with reversal there in order to give an improved service. This would still be about an
hour quicker than the conventional line via Avila.
 Switzerland/Italy - International link Mendrisio - Varese works commence again
Works started in July to finish off the missing
link between the Swiss frontier at Stabio and
the new junction north of Arcisate on the
currently closed line to Porto Ceresio. There
are about 8 km of double track and
infrastructure to be put in to join Arcisate
and Stabio. The work on the Swiss side of
the border was completed and has already
been in service since November 2014, and
this work on the Italian side is hoped to be
finished and in commercial service by June
2017. More at :-
 Switzerland – Three part railway by French border reopens
VerticAlp Emosson, formerly Parc d'Attractions du Châtelard, comprises a funicular from Le Châtelard VS
(on the metre gauge Martigny – Le Châtelard Frontiere – St-Gervais-les-Bains-Le Fayet (France) railway, the
the Petit Train Panoramique d'Emosson (a 60cm gauge railway), and a MiniFunic, which is a small funicular
railway to the top of the Emosson Dam, the second-largest water reservoir in Switzerland at 1965m. A.S.L.
The whole system closed at the end of the 2012 season (see BLNI1181.132) for renovation of the funicular.
This is now complete and the entire system reopened 23 May 2015. Apparently there will be no steam on
the Petit Train Panoramique d'Emosson this year (maybe a weekend in September?) as the management
are very occupied in restarting the whole operation.#
REST OF THE WORLD
 Canada – More woes for Gaspé line
Just when you thought the situation could not get more convoluted Transports Québec have closed the
railway bridge at Haldimand for two months of urgent repairs. So, at least eight trips of the tourist train
L’Amiral between Gaspé and Percé are cancelled as well, which will go down badly with the lines main
customers – international cruise ships. The concern now is that they will take their business elsewhere.
 Canada – Toronto’s Lakeshore West service extended
On 9 July, regular weekday service to the new West Harbour GO Station began. There are two new trips to
Toronto Union Station in the morning and two trips back in the evening. There is also a connecting GO Bus
service from the previous end of the service at Aldershot.
 Cuba - Havana Central station closes for three years
Cuban Railways (UFC) closed its Havana Central station on 24 June for the start of a three-year rebuilding
and renovation project, which will include the construction of additional platforms. All passenger traffic
has been moved to the adjacent Coubre yard, where a former bus terminal was converted into a
temporary station several years ago. Other major stations including Santa Clara and Camagüey are also
being rebuilt as part of a programme to improve and expand Cuba's railway infrastructure. A new line to
the port of Mariel opened last year and in March this year UFC completed a new link between Guanajay on
the Havana - Mariel line and Artemisa, the capital of the province of the same name. A daily Havana -
Artemisa passenger service now operates via Guanajay, reducing the journey time to 1h 30min, compared
with a journey time of around three-and-a-half hours for services on the existing line. Further new lines are
under construction including Toledo - Murgas and Bauta - Murgas which will provide additional links from
Rincon to the Mariel line, while the construction of a second track on the Naranjito - Almendares section
means the entire Havana - Mariel line will soon be double track. At Angosta, a few kilometres from Mariel
container terminal, a new railway complex is under construction. This includes a freight yard, a station, a
fuelling facility and maintenance depot for locomotives and wagons. It will also provide access to a nearby
 India – Chennai metro opens
Chennai (formerly Madras) has become the sixth Indian city to have a metro. It was inaugurated on
Monday 29 June when a 10km section of elevated track with seven stations between Alandur and
Koyambedu opened. This is the first part of a proposed 45km 32 station network will eventually run on two
corridors in the city: Washermenpet to Chennai Airport and Chennai Central to St Thomas Mount.
 India – New port branch opens in Gujarat
The first line to be built using independent finance under the non-government railway policy announced in
2012 was officially opened on 14 July, when Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu used teleconferencing
facilities to flag off the inaugural train. The 1676 mm gauge line runs for 17 km from Gandhidham to Tuna
Tekra Port in Gujarat. The project was funded by the Kandla Port Trust, with IR’s Western Railway
responsible for managing the construction of 11 km of the route. The project was approved by the Railway
Board in October 2013, and construction began in May 2014. Work was completed in May this year. The
main traffic is expected to be coal and fertiliser, with an average of four trains a day producing an annual
revenue of Rs50m/year for Indian Railways. So far the Ministry of Railways has agreed to provide rail links
to the ports of Tuna, Dhamra, Jaigarh and Dighi under the NGR policy, with the operation of trains from
these ports expected to generate Rs24bn without requiring a financial commitment by the ministry. Initial
approval has also been granted for a further five projects.
 Israel – Tracklaying starts on new line
Construction of Israel's Acre - Carmiel line has reached a key milestone with the start of tracklaying on the
23km route. Tracklaying is being carried out by two Israeli companies, Lesico and Shikun together with
Germany's DB Bahnbau, which are working from the Macher Junction end of the line at a rate of about
400m per day, with ballast being laid at around 800m per day. Embedded slab track based on the Swiss
LVT system is being laid in the 4.6km Gilon tunnel. The Shekels line is designed for 160km/h operation and
will be one of the first two railways in Israel to be electrified, the other being the A1 direct link from Tel
Aviv to Jerusalem. Planning is underway for the next phase of the line from Carmiel to Kiryat Shmona.
 Japan – Rail sections closed by Tsunami to stay closed
On 24 July heads of JR East and mayors of local communities along the Kesennuma Line and Ofuntato Line
met in Tokyo to discuss the future of railway sections closed since the great earthquake and tsunami of
March 11 2011. The tracks have been removed and the right-of-way has been converted into a designated
lane for bus rapid transit. JR East suggested continuing operations by this mode.
JR East estimates that 110 billion yen will be needed to bring back rail service these sections, of which 67
billion is for construction of new sections on higher ground for protection from
future tsunamis. JR East refuses to pay the extra 67 billion. The central government claims that taxpayers
won't tolerate subsidies to a company which reports profits. Meanwhile, local communities
are too poor to fund the construction fees and are not united in their request: while the mayor of
Kesennuma desires revival of rail services, Minami-Sanriku's mayor is not interested.
The number of bus services now is nearly three times the number of train before the earthquake and
tsunami. But they are slow and prone to delay for some sections are shared with road traffic. JR East
intends to maintain this level of service. Some local residents say the buses are better. JR East has made
posters of citizens welcoming the buses to appeal that is doing enough toward recovery of devastated
areas and possibly also to use this as a model case to prod communities along other low-density lines into
considering line closures. Although traffic levels were never high, the section did have some long-distance
services. Two daily diesel-car rapid services operated linking Sendai and Kesennuma (via Ogota). They were
fairly popular: formations were lengthened a few years ago to meet demand. During the summer peak
special rapid trains ran all the way from Sendai to Hachinohe via the Sanriku Railway, Yamada Line and
Hachinohe Line. Some observers say that sales efforts for the Kesennuma Line rapids were half-hearted
because the line spanned two company divisions (Sendai Division and Morioka Division). With the
Kesennuma Line abandoned, the only rail route to Kesennuma is the Ofunato Line (Ichinoseki -
Kesennuma). The Ofunato Line should be renamed for its coastal section (Kesennuma - Ofunato - Sakari) is
closed; it does not go to Ofunato.
 Kazakhstan - Borzhakty to Ersai branch opened
President Nursultan Nazarbayev used teleconferencing facilities to formally open the Borzhakty – Ersai
railway on 2 July. The 13.9 km branch from the Aktau – Uzen line will serve a port which is being developed
on the Caspian Sea near Kuryk. The initial traffic on the railway will include materials for the construction
of the port facilities.