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Reopening of Kyushu Shinkansen still a long way off

Work to remove a derailed bullet train from the tracks of the Kyushu Shinkansen line proceeds in Nishi Ward, Kumamoto, on April 18, 2016. (Mainichi)

The Kyushu Shinkansen will not be up and running before the Golden Week holiday period beginning at the end of the month due to earthquake damage, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism told the Mainichi Shimbun.

Following a magnitude-6.5 temblor on April 14, Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) had indicated it was aiming to resume services before Golden Week, but further quakes appear to have worsened damage to the line.

It was learned from the transport ministry on April 18 that around 30 new damaged sections of sound-insulating walls along the line have been found, bringing the total to around 80. The rails are also warped in several locations, and metal fasteners attaching the tracks to sleepers have been broken. The damage was found to continue along a stretch, and it is thought that a deadhead bullet train that derailed near Kumamoto Station broke the parts as it advanced off the rails before coming to a stop.

The magnitude-7.3 earthquake on April 16 that followed the April 14 foreshock is thought to have worsened the damage along the tracks. On April 18, JR Kyushu began preparations to return the derailed train to the rails. A ministry source said, "We can't predict how long it will take to reopen the line."

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