Mainichi reporter describes scene on Japan bullet train with makeshift toilet, no power

A “Nozomi” shinkansen car is dim due to a power outage in Aichi Prefecture, on Dec. 18, 2022. (Mainichi/Go Taniguchi)

AICHI PREF. — A section of the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line in central Japan was hit with a power outage at about 1 p.m. on Dec. 18, stopping train services in both directions between Shin-Osaka and Tokyo stations for several hours.

According to Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Central), service of the high-speed trains resumed at around 5 p.m. Passengers were stuck onboard for over four hours, and stations were congested with passengers who had been waiting for services to resume.

This reporter, Mainichi Shimbun’s Go Taniguchi, was traveling from Osaka to Tokyo aboard a “Nozomi” bullet train to cover the live televised comedy competition “M-1 Grand Prix,” when I was also affected by the power outage that happened in the section between Nagoya and Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture.

The Nozomi train first came to a halt around 1 p.m. while it was in Aichi Prefecture. It started moving again, but after about 10 minutes, stopped once more, this time in the vicinity of Okazaki, also in Aichi Prefecture. At about 2 p.m., an announcement indicated that the delay would be lengthy, evoking sighs among the passengers.

The train’s air circulation system stopped running, and the washrooms also became unusable. Portable toilets were set up at about 3:30 p.m. As many as roughly 30 people at a time lined up to use them. It was announced just after 4 p.m. that the portable toilets were removed, leading to shouts of complaint from passengers.

It became hot onboard, and the doors between train cars were opened slightly to bring relief, but this made it feel a little bit chilly.

The power issue was resolved and the train started running again at about 5:10 p.m. However, service did not fully resume as normal, due to issues such as needing to stop again when the train got to the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyohashi.

After boarding the train at Shin-Osaka Station at 12:10 p.m., this reporter made it to Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station at about 6:40 p.m., enduring a six-and-a-half-hour trip. My back ached a lot. I held off drinking water or eating due to worries over whether there’d be a toilet. My legs were cold, my throat was dry and I was hungry.

After missing part of the filming of the M-1 Grand Prix, I headed to the TV Asahi studios in Roppongi as the finals were taking place.

In the other direction, Shin-Osaka Station was jam packed as passengers formed a line at the ticket counter to ask for refunds. Station workers were busy directing people such as those who had gathered on the platforms. Social media was full of posts about the situation, including comments on the chaos in Shin-Osaka Station and people saying that they could not return home.

(Japanese original by Go Taniguchi, Osaka Cultural News Department, and Yuta Kumamoto, Osaka City News Department)


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