bullet train
Many bullet train services between Tokyo and stations in eastern and central Japan that were suspended due to a power outage Tuesday will remain halted for the rest of the day, their operator said, citing damaged electricity equipment.

The outage, which began around 10 a.m., affected sections of the Tohoku, Joetsu and Hokuriku shinkansen lines, East Japan Railway Co said, forcing passengers, including tourists, to suddenly change their travel schedules. JR East said it would take a "considerable time" for a restart.

The issue was blamed on an overhead electrical wire that was found hanging down over the shinkansen tracks in one location in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

Comment: For high tech, critical infrastructure such as this, and in Japan which is known for its safety and attention to detail, this seems a little unusual.

The company is working on restoring the services, but two people involved were taken to hospital following an explosion near the area with the hanged wire, investigative sources said.

Services have been suspended between Tokyo and Sendai stations on the Tohoku line, Tokyo and Echigo-Yuzawa on the Joetsu line, and Tokyo and Nagano on the Hokuriku line, it said.

A bullet train was forced to stop between stations in Saitama Prefecture, with its passengers taken to track level and then guided to the ground using emergency stairs.

"I heard big sounds and thought it was another earthquake," said Yoshiko Horii from Toyama Prefecture, one of the areas rocked by the magnitude 7.6 temblor on New Year's Day, who was on a shinkansen train bound for Tokyo when it was halted.

Comment: One recalls a recent incident in New York: Power outage reported in Manhattan, as 'explosions and tremors' shake buildings

"I was surprised. I am glad we could leave the train," said the 74-year-old Horii after descending from the train using the emergency stairs.

In JR stations affected by the suspensions, people lined up to speak with station staff or to apply for ticket changes after announcements about major delays were made.

"There's nothing we can do," said Ryuji Sekine, 33, who was in the northeast city of Sendai for a business trip from Tokyo and planned to go on to Niigata Prefecture. "I have no choice but to stay in Sendai tonight," he said.

A 68-year-old woman from Sendai said after arriving in Tokyo, "My train stopped just before Omiya (station in Saitama) and we didn't move for about 30 minutes."

"The train eventually made it to Omiya and I ended up taking a conventional line service to Tokyo...now my plans are thrown off," she said.