National

Flights and trains canceled as Hagibis nears Tokyo

by Satoshi Sugiyama

Staff Writer

East Japan Railway Co. and other railway operators warned on Thursday that services on many lines could be canceled on Saturday and Sunday, as “violent” Typhoon Hagibis threatens to slam wide areas of the nation.

JR East said on its website that bullet trains and other major services could be halted, including the Yamanote, Chuo and Tokaido lines.

The train operator plans to update information on its website with more details, including specific lines and suspension times, at 10:30 a.m. Friday, spokesman Yuji Ishikawa said.

“Our goal is to notify passengers as soon as possible,” Ishikawa said, adding that the information will be available in English, Chinese and Korean.

Besides JR East, multiple private railway companies in the Kanto region said their services may be canceled or delayed. This includes Keikyu Corp., whose trains run to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, and Keisei Electric Railway Co., which has a direct service to Narita International Airport. Odakyu Electric Railway Co. said it will suspend all Romancecar limited express services on Saturday.

In a statement, Keisei asked passengers to “avoid going outside for nonessential matters” as the storm passes.

The firms’ early announcement on expected disruptions hints at the strength of the typhoon heading toward the main island of Honshu. The typhoon, classified as of Thursday evening by the Meteorological Agency as “violent” — its highest designation — could make landfall in central or eastern Japan either on Saturday night or Sunday morning without losing much of its strength.

All Nippon Airlines Co. said Thursday that all domestic flights departing and arriving on Saturday at Narita and Haneda airports will be canceled. Japan Airlines will cancel at least 90 percent of domestic flights to and from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture on Saturday, NHK said.

Other airlines may cancel flights as well, and other airports could be affected, including in central Japan and the Kansai region. The service disruption could continue on Sunday at Haneda and Narita, airlines said.

The precautionary steps reflect lessons learned after train operators’ handling of past typhoons. When Typhoon Faxai hit the Kanto region last month, JR East sent out an advance notice on Sept. 8 that all of its early morning train services the next day would be suspended until 8 a.m.

But work to get the lines back up and running dragged on beyond that time as would-be commuters rushed into stations. In the end, stations and trains couldn’t accommodate the swarms of passengers, affecting the journeys of about 2.7 million people. In a guideline set in July, the transportation ministry said it is desirable to announce the possibility of train suspensions 48 hours beforehand and update a detailed plan 24 hours in advance.

Information from Kyodo added

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