Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Bullet train line extended 82km in northern Japan

AFP, TOKYO

Japan extended the nation’s bullet train system in the north yesterday, but the latest extension was marred by a suspension of services due to strong winds and technical troubles.

The Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train line between Tokyo and Aomori fully has been extended by 82km to Shin-Aomori station, about 600km north of Tokyo.

“Eventually, the line fully opened after it was extended inch by inch,” said Mutsutake Otsuka, chairman of JR East, which operates the line.

“We would like to contribute to the stimulation of local economies with the fast-train system,” Otsuka said during the opening ceremony at Tokyo station after the first train left for Shin-Aomori station early yesterday.

However, the festive mood was overshadowed as strong gusts and troubles with connections forced the operator to suspend services on the line for about an hour, officials said.

Japan has sought to extend the high-speed rail system throughout the country after it opened the Shinkansen bullet train line between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka in 1964, when its economy was developing rapidly and it was heading toward becoming the world’s second-largest economy.

However, the plan has been slowing down due to a series of economic slumps, depopulation in rural areas and Japan’s declining birthrate.

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