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OSAKA (Kyodo) Sanyo Shinkansen Line service was suspended between Shin-Osaka and Okayama stations Thursday morning after two maintenance trains hit each other in a tunnel, affecting about 68,000 people, including summer holiday vacationers, West Japan Railway Co. officials said.

Shinkansen runs between the two stations were disrupted from the first train of the day after one of the maintenance trains derailed in the crash at around 4:20 a.m., the officials said. Services fully resumed at around around 2:30 p.m.

No one was hurt in the incident, which occurred in a tunnel between Shin-Kobe and Nishi-Akashi stations in Hyogo Prefecture, the officials said.

A total of 97 trains on the Sanyo Shinkansen and Tokaido Shinkansen lines were canceled, while nine runs were delayed by as much as eight hours, according to the officials. The Tokaido line connects Tokyo with Osaka, and the Sanyo line links Osaka with Fukuoka.

The third and fourth cars of the eight-car maintenance train derailed after it hit a two-car track-cleaning train, according to the officials.

Local police said a worker on the tunnel maintenance train explained that the brakes could not be applied in time as visibility was poor due to a cloud of dust.

Both trains had completed their work and were about to return to a rail yard in Kobe. The two-car train returned to the yard.

As the maintenance trains are equipped with a collision avoidance system that sets off an alarm or automatically applies the brakes when they come within 300 meters of another train, JR West is checking whether the device malfunctioned, the officials said.

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