The Sanyo Line in the flood-devastated Chugoku region will be back up and running in November, West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) announced July 18, but the outlook is uncertain for three other damaged routes.

A question mark hangs over the future of the Geibi, Fukuen and Kisuki lines, which run through the Chugoku mountain range, primarily due to their vulnerability to future disasters.

If the three lines are to reopen, it will take more than a year, Tatsuo Kijima, president of JR West, said at a July 18 news conference.

He did not present a detailed schedule for the full resumption of services on the lines.

Kijima said the company has an eye on reopening them, but added, “As the lines are located in areas facing the threat of potentially more serious disasters, we need to hold discussions” with the local governments.

A bridge collapsed on the Geibi Line, together with a cable line used to operate signals on that line as well as the Fukuen and Kisuki lines.

Kijima said early recovery of the Sanyo Line, a key route along the Seto Inland Sea that connects Kobe and Kita-Kyushu, is JR West’s priority.

As of July 18, two sections on the Sanyo Line were out of service: between Mihara and Kaitaichi stations, both in Hiroshima Prefecture, and between Tokuyama and Yanai stations, both in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Japan Freight Railway Co. has been transporting goods by trucks and ships in the closed sections.

(This article was written by Daisuke Hatano and Akira Hatano.)