Bullet trains restart in east Japan 20 hours after power outage

Photo: Kyodo

 Bullet train services in eastern and central Japan resumed Wednesday, some 20 hours after a power outage caused hundreds of the shinkansen services to and from Tokyo to be canceled the previous day, affecting some 120,000 people, Kyodo reports. 

All but two bullet train services on the Tohoku, Joetsu and Hokuriku lines have been operating normally since the morning, East Japan Railway Co. said.

The company completed restoration work shortly past 4:30 a.m., having removed a shinkansen train that had lost power at around 10 a.m. Tuesday and stopped on route in Saitama Prefecture, where a slackened overhead electrical wire was hanging close to the rails.

Three other shinkansen traveling in the area also came to a halt around the same time but managed to move to Ueno Station in Tokyo.

The incident resulted in cancellation of about 280 bullet trains covering areas between Tokyo and other cities such as Sendai, Fukushima, Niigata and Nagano, according to the company. It also caused widespread disruptions for routes connecting to the capital.

JR East said Wednesday that the overhead electric wire likely slackened due to a damaged tension weight that had been used for 38 years.

The company said it is investigating how the damage occurred and plans to conduct emergency visual inspections at around 500 locations where the same weights are used by Jan. 31.

It also said the section of the electric wire where the tension was lost had not been replaced with an updated version, designed to be more durable and easier to service.

"A reason for the power outage remains unknown, and we don't know if the incident could have been prevented if the electric wire had been replaced with a new one," a company official said.

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