Bullet train services between Tokyo and Osaka were suspended for up to four hours due to an electricity outage Sunday, affecting tens of thousands of travelers including holidaymakers using the government's domestic tourism subsidy program.
The blackout hit the Tokaido Shinkansen Line connecting the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka that constitute the country's three largest metropolitan areas.
According to operator Central Japan Railway Co., better known as JR Tokai, the blackout occurred around 1 p.m. Sunday on the bullet train line between Toyohashi and Nagoya after an overhead wire was severed. The problem was fixed by 5 p.m., when services fully resumed between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations.
However, the four-hour halt significantly disrupted train schedules, with a total of 74 bullet trains suspended on inbound and outbound lines by 11 p.m., impacting 110,000 passengers.
The outage left stations packed with travelers. Tired of waiting, people sat on stairs, an unusual sight in Japan.
In Tokyo Station, a mother with two children said they might have to sit on the floor as she expected her train to be bursting with passengers.
A man in his 70s who had been waiting for an hour at the same station to return to Hiroshima remarked that there must be hordes of people making trips across Japan, encouraged by the government's National Travel Discount program.
"I thought about taking a plane instead but it'll be OK if I return home sometime today, so I'll continue to wait," he said.