I was taking a trip to Akita Pref. when I had to make a transfer at Niigata Station.
Little did I know, I was just in time to catch this leaving the station:
This is a C57-180 series steam locomotive, which usually makes the trip from Niigata to Aizu-Wakamatsu along the Banetsu-East line. However, due to heavy rain, flooding, and landslides from a storm that ripped through the area at the end of July, part of the line has been washed away and is still undergoing repairs.
So, railway officials have changed the course of the SL until the line can be repaired and also changing the name of the service to SL夏休み体験号, or the SL Summer Vacation Experience Train. The trip isn’t as long as the one to Aizu-Wakamatsu, but at least it allows JR to continue to run the steam train during the summer vacation.
Anyways, I wasn’t in Niigata to ride the SL. I was there to ride this:
I’ll be writing about this in a soon to be published post, so keep an eye out for that.