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Major shinkansen bullet train service disruption in northern Japan due to bird strike

Passengers crowd near a transfer gate to the Tohoku Shinkansen Line at JR Tokyo Station on June 17, 2018 as the service on the line was suspended for nearly six hours. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train services in northern Japan were suspended for nearly six hours after a power cut apparently caused by a bird strike on a train running in Miyagi Prefecture at around 1:56 p.m. on June 17, according to the East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

The shinkansen operations resumed at around 7:40 p.m. but remained chaotic for the rest of the day with many delays, affecting as many as 150,000 passengers on the Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku and Hokkaido shinkansen lines, JR East said.

The day's trouble began when the 17-car Hayabusa/Komachi No. 21 train running between Sendai and Furukawa stations lost power and made an emergency stop, remaining there for hours for safety checks. The linked bullet train was bound for two destinations, with the Hayabusa portion going to Hakodate Hokuto Station on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, and the Komachi heading to Akita Station in northwestern Japan.

A JR East inspection found that the blackout was caused by a short circuit due apparently to a bird strike on a section connecting the pantograph on car No.12 with the carriage body. The power returned shortly but safety checks continued as the emergency brake remained engaged. Eventually the railway company had to transport 797 passengers to Sendai Station using another shinkansen train sent to the scene.

Confusion caused by the shinkansen service disruption was seen even at Tokyo Station, where many passengers lined up near ticket gates and ticket vending machines. An announcement was made at around 7:20 p.m. that service had resumed, but a man in his 60s said in apparent anger that he was not going to catch the last train to his home prefecture of Iwate in northeastern Japan.

(Japanese original by Nao Yamada and Akira Iida, City News Department)

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