Authorities investigate Akita line bullet train derailment


Transport authorities launched a full-fledged investigation Sunday into the derailment of a bullet train on the Akita Shinkansen Line in Daisen, Akita Prefecture, on Saturday afternoon.

None of the approximately 130 passengers on board at the time of the accident was injured. Takeshi Kawagoe, an inspector at the Japan Transport Safety Board, told reporters that heavy snow is believed to have been one of the primary causes of the derailment but said investigators “will further examine the condition of the train and the track.”

The first of the train’s six cars jumped the rails at around 4:05 p.m. Saturday after a driver heard an abnormal noise while passing through a snowy section of track in the city of Daisen, and brought the train to an immediate halt, operator East Japan Railway Co. said.

JR East on Sunday continued its suspension of services on the stretch of the Akita Shinkansen Line between Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, and the city of Akita for a second day.

The operator said the bullet train had been running at a reduced speed of just 20 kph due to severe snowfall in the area. According to a local observatory, a warning of heavy snow had been issued at the time of the accident.

The derailment occurred between Jinguji and Kariwano stations. After being confined to the train for six hours, all of the passengers were transported by bus and taxi to Akita Station and other locations, JR East said.