March 12, 2011

Japanese railways assess damage after earthquake and tsunami

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THE massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake which hit northeastern Japan yesterday at about 15.00 local time, followed by a major tsunami along the coast, caused major disruption to train services and damage to the network, reports IRJ's regional editor Yoshihiko Sato from Tokyo. All Shinkansen services terminating in Tokyo were stopped. While Tokaido Shinkansen services had restarted by last night, other Shinkansen trains were still not operating yesterday.

Today JR East discovered that the Tohoku Shinkansen has been damaged along the Sendai - Morioka section. Damage to the Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen cannot be confirmed yet as road access is not possible. The Senseki, Kesenuma, Yamada, and Ofunato conventional lines have also been seriously damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, and four trains are missing. The extent of damage to the rail network in northeastern Japan is uncertain at present.

At about 04.00 this morning another 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit the Nagano and Niigata area. The Iiyama line was interrupted between Yokogura and Miri-Miyanohara in Nagano prefecture. Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen services were halted, but restarted this afternoon after safety checks confirmed it was safe to run trains again.

In the Tokyo Area, the entire railway network was paralysed yesterday, and an estimated 24,000 people could not go home and stayed the night at several facilities provided by local government and others. JR commuter lines, metro lines and private railway services restarted this morning after inspection of the infrastructure confirmed it was safe to do so.


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