“Ghost Train Tickets” for Sanriku Line Timestamped “3.11” Prove Popular

Ghost Sanriku Tickets
Sanriku train tickets timestamped for the date of the earthquake.

“Ghost Train Tickets” for Sanriku Line Timestamped “3.11” Prove Popular
Yomiuri Shimbun: 幻の切符が人気、三陸鉄道「3・11」印字
October 6, 2011

“Ghost Train Tickets” timestamped “3.11” for the Iwate Sanriku Line, 2/3 of which is still out of service after the tsunami washed away tracks and stations that date, have proven popular.

Tickets labeled “From Sanriku To Koishihama” and “¥250” first went on sale in April. (Translator’s Note: Besides being real station names, “Sanriku” is also the name for the entire coastline, which has now suffered three devastating earthquake/tsunamis in the last 120 years, and “Koishihama” means “Lovemaking Beach”.) “Hard tickets” made of cardboard are available on a public website. There are 90 variations displayed, with different station names and types of trains and including platform tickets. On principle, all the tickets cover for parts of the line which are no longer in service, and they are stamped “23.3.11” (Note: 2011 is Heisei 23 in the Japanese calendar). Though most are unusable, the company has received about 10,000 orders from across the country, ¥2000 per ticket.

Sanriku’s entire South Ria line and part of the North Ria line are closed. Reopening the entire line would require an estimated ¥1.1 billion yen ($14.5 million). Rail company staff originated the “ghost ticket” sales in order to argue for the necessity of reopening the railroad. The company said, “Though we don’t expect the number of passengers to increase, the support we’ve received from around the country is encouraging.”

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