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Restoration of Tohoku bullet train services after quake in north Japan to take 10 days

Power poles supporting overhead wires on the Tohoku Shinkansen lines are seen leaning on Feb. 14, 2021, a day after a quake, in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter.

TOKYO -- East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) on Feb. 14 said it is expected to take about 10 days to resume full-scale operations of Tohoku Shinkansen bullet trains in northeast Japan following a magnitude 7.3 earthquake on Saturday that toppled and bent power poles.

    Services have been suspended over a stretch of about 400 kilometers between Nasushiobara Station in the Tochigi Prefecture city of Nasushiobara and Morioka Station in the city of Morioka in Iwate Prefecture. Along part of this route between Shin-Shirakawa Station in the village of Nishigo, Fukushima Prefecture, and Furukawa Station in the Miyagi Prefecture city of Osaki, at least 20 power poles were damaged. Elevated bridge pillars and the foundations of rails were also found damaged in several places along this section.

    During the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, some 540 power poles along the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train lines were damaged. Since then, JR East has been reinforcing poles against earthquakes. The 20 that were damaged in the latest quake were not covered by this measure. The company planned to consider reinforcing them in 2029 or later. Reinforcement priorities are based on scenarios of quakes occurring along different active faults and directly beneath the capital.

    There are some 20,000 power poles along the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen bullet train lines. Of these, 2,200 have been reinforced against quakes.

    (Japanese original by Yoshitaka Yamamoto, City News Department)

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