March 14, 2011

Rolling power cuts affect JR East services

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JR East responded to the Japanese government's request to cut power consumption by reducing train frequency on the Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen, and limiting train operations on some narrow-gauge lines, and suspending services on other lines. However, the power cuts were not as extensive as originally planned, and JR East has been able to operate more trains than expected. Nevertheless, only 20% of services were running on nine of its busiest lines.
All lines of the Tokyo metro are operating but with a reduced service. Other private railways are reducing train operations by section and by time. As a result, trains are running in central Tokyo, but less frequently than normal or not at all in suburban areas. JR Central was forced to cancel some Tokaido Shinkansen services because of the difficulties faced by train crew in reaching the depot in Tokyo.

Tokyo Electric Power Company estimates its generating capacity has been cut by 25% due to damage to power stations. Power cannot be transferred from the western Japanese grid because of a difference in frequency. Western Japan is on 60Hz compared with 50Hz in the east of the country.

In Sendai, the city's north-south metro line has partially reopened, but some station exists are closed and lifts and escalators are not functioning until they are inspected.

JR East plans to reopen the southern 158km section of the Tohoku Shinkansen tomorrow between Tokyo and Nasu-Shiobara.

There was some good news from western Japan on March 12 when JR Kyushu opened the northern section of the Kyushu Shinkansen between Hakata and Shin-Yatsushiro, where it connects with the already-completed southern section to Kagoshima Chuo. Passengers can transfer at Hakata to JR West's Sanyo Shinkansen.

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