Sections of major train lines in Tokyo were shut down for over four hours Monday morning due to a power outage, affecting some 280,000 rush hour commuters and forcing some universities to delay annual entrance exams.
The power went out between Kanda and Yotsuya stations on the Chuo Line in central Tokyo at around 4:55 a.m., forcing East Japan Railway Co. to temporarily suspend all train services on the line that runs to the western suburbs.
The Chuo and Sobu line services passing through the area and stretching toward the capital’s eastern suburbs were also impacted.
While some services quickly resumed, delays and cancellations of rapid and regular train services on the lines affected other connecting lines.
Crowds of commuters formed at many stations and more than 10 stations, including Ochanomizu and Yotsuya, temporarily closed ticket gates and stopped people from entering to avoid overcrowding.
Police said a fire burned cables near tracks close to Suidobashi Station at around the same time as the power outage, and authorities are investigating whether it was at the root of the trouble.
The incident coincided with nationwide entrance exams held for national and public universities. Those located along the affected lines, including Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and Chiba University, delayed the start of their entrance exams for an hour.
“I panicked after learning that the train schedules were disrupted, but there was no problem because the JR Yamanote Line (encircling central Tokyo) was operating as usual,” said an 18-year-old high school student.
“I had been planning to use the Sobu Line, but I made it in time using other lines,” said a student who came from neighboring Chiba Prefecture to take an exam in Tokyo. “Now I want to calm down before I take the exam.”