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Old steam train finishes running in disaster-hit northeastern Japan

The iconic steam locomotive SL Ginga has made a final run in northeastern Japan with crowds of railway fans and locals bidding farewell.

The steam train was introduced in 2014 on East Japan Railway's Kamaishi Line in Iwate Prefecture as part of efforts to revitalize areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The locomotive ran between Kamaishi and Hanamaki stations on Saturdays and Sundays. It made its final regular run on June 4.

Crowds of people gathered at Kamaishi Station on Sunday for the train's final run for packaged tours. It is being retired from service because of its aging passenger carriages.

A civic brass band dedicated a performance to the retiring locomotive while people took photos of the train.

After the stationmaster gave the departure signal, the train whistled and slowly set off for Hanamaki Station.

A fifth-grader from nearby Morioka City said that it's sad that the train is retiring, but he remembers when he rode the train during a summer holiday. The boy said that he wants to thank the train for nine years of service.

A woman who runs a Japanese inn in Kamaishi City said that it's a pity as the train has attracted a lot of steam locomotive fans to the city.

She said that she is overwhelmed with gratitude as the train has encouraged locals who were affected by the disaster.