Thousands stranded for hours during Japan’s peak holiday travel period. 

As we edge closer towards the New Year, roads and public transport systems around Japan are now working at full capacity as people travel back to their hometowns to celebrate the most important holiday of the year with their families.

With so many people travelling at the moment, any breakdown or delay can quickly become a big problem, creating huge crowds and inconveniencing thousands of people in a short period of time.

So when the driver of the Tohoku and Yamagata-bound Yamabiko with Tsubasa 177 Shinkansen bullet train was unable to release the emergency brake at Tokyo Station at 9:50 a.m. on 30 December, the breakdown resulted in crowds like this.

According to reports, the Shinkansen that broke down couldn’t be moved from its position at platform 23 for over an hour-and-a-half, which meant that other bullet trains heading in and out of the station were also affected.

▼ Crowds at the station at 11:00 a.m.

▼ And at the platform at the same time.

▼ The situation still hadn’t changed at 2:00 p.m.

By 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, all trains on the Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen lines were delayed by more than 90 minutes.

▼ Staff stepped in to restrict entry in order to control the ever-growing crowd.

At 5:30 p.m., the situation still hadn’t improved, with two-hour-plus delays being reported.

▼ It took this passenger 20 minutes just to get to the ticket gate.

“More crowded than an amusement park”.

▼ This passenger had one word for it: “Chaos“.

At 9:30 p.m., trains were still delayed, with many people wondering what time their last train, which usually departs before midnight, would actually depart.

At 10:45 p.m, it was clear that the delays weren’t going to get any better before the final train of the day.

According to East Japan Railway Company, which operates the five affected Shinkansen lines, approximately 228,700 passengers were affected by the incident, with delays or suspensions on roughly 376 routes as a result.

With travel set to hit another peak on January 2 and 3, as people return from their hometowns, public transport is set to remain busy until Sunday 6 January, before the working year begins again.

Hopefully there’ll be no future setbacks for passengers during this period, but if there are longer delays than today, it might just create the perfect conditions for another impromptu station platform drinking party.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Twitter/@alohangloose

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