430 spend night in snowbound train

Cornelia Mascio
Gennaio 13, 2018

Around 430 passengers were forced to stay the night aboard a local train stranded since Thursday evening amid heavy snowfall in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

The heavy snow particularly affected the Hokuriku region on Friday, as well as mountainous areas, due to a strong wintry cold air mass that hung over the nation for a few days.

The 4-car East Japan Railway train from Niigata got stuck at a crossing in Sanjo City on the Shinetsu Line before 7 PM on Thursday.

These videos, taken by an onlooker, show efforts by a railway worker to shovel snow off the tracks in front of the train. "The operator kept saying the train would start moving, but it was wrong".

Many people had to stand because the train was so crowded. Some said passengers took turns sitting on seats. "I just want to sleep", said a male passenger.

A 50-year-old man who came to pick up his daughter said he was angry because she was preparing for an entrance exam.

The operator did not let the passengers leave the train overnight, saying it was risky to go outside given the heavy snowfall.

"We put priority on safety", a JR East official said. JR East also said it thought using taxis and other vehicles to transport hundreds of passengers would be too time-consuming.

There were no snowplows operating near the site Thursday evening, and the only one deployed arrived at the site at around 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Snow also caused about 300 vehicles to get stuck near two exits of the Ban-etsu Expressway in the Niigata town of Aga Thursday evening, but all were able to leave after about 12 hours of snow-clearing work.

At least one passenger was taken to hospital after falling ill, Japan Today reported.

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