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OSAKA — The Tokaido Shinkansen Line linking Tokyo and Osaka ground to a halt Thursday morning after an icicle shorted out a power line, Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) said.

The incident occurred near the Otowayama Tunnel on the Kyoto-Shiga prefectural border.

Tokyo-bound bullet trains were suspended between Kyoto Station and Maibara Station, in Shiga Prefecture, from the start of the day’s services until 7:55 a.m.

According to JR Tokai, water dripping from an expressway overpass formed an icicle that came in contact with the power line and caused a short circuit. The icicle was about 65 cm long and 5 cm to 6 cm thick.

The railway said it had never heard of such an incident stopping trains before.

The suspension, coupled with snow in the vicinity of Maihara, resulted in delays of up to two hours for trains bound for Tokyo and about 20 minutes for Osaka-bound runs, JR Tokai said.

After services resumed, trains ran at lower speeds of between 70 kph and 230 kph between Nagoya and Kyoto stations because of the snow, it said.

According to the local meteorological observatory, temperatures in Shiga Prefecture’s capital of Otsu fell to minus 4.4 at midnight Wednesday, the lowest so far this winter.

Saitama rock shower

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Fourteen homes were damaged Thursday morning when gravel ballast for elevated tracks of the Tohoku Shinkansen Line in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, fell onto their roofs and garages, police said.

Police said they received a call at around 9:40 a.m. that stones had showered onto a garage after a bullet train had passed by.

Investigations showed that the stones, some as large as 5 cm in diameter, were strewn about a roughly 300-meter stretch alongside the elevated tracks. Windows and roof tiles of 14 homes were damaged, and 12 automobiles parked in the area were damaged, police said.

Officials at East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) said they believe a block of snow stuck to the train fell off as it was passing and kicked up the rocks. The stones were thrown over a wall some 2 meters to 3 meters high erected along the tracks to reduce noise, they added.

It is rare for track ballast to become scattered over a distance, as the gravel is bound with a special adhesive, the officials said, adding they will investigate the incident to prevent a recurrence.

The train that passed by the site stopped for about 30 minutes after abnormal sounds were detected. Eleven windows were found to have cracks, and it was later taken out of service.

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