The Flower Nagai Line is the only line operated by the third sectorYamagata Railway Company(山形鉄道,Yamagata Tetsudō?), which took over the former JR East line in 1988.
In 2005, Yamagata Railway was in danger of having to shut down due to low patronage, leaving many residents, especially the young and old, without a mode of transportation from their farms. The only option available to the company was to try to attract more tourists to the scenic views. Lone train operator, Tatsuo Asakura, working without the knowledge of his superiors increased out-of-town passengers from 350 in 2005 to 7,000 in 2006, and in September 2008 had entertained more than 20,000 tourists with his uplifting guided tours, spoken in local dialect.