Thousands stranded in 'train hotels' in Japan

Thousands stranded in 'train hotels' in Japan

About 2,300 people rested in Shinkansen "train hotels" Saturday morning as a result of a Tokyo fire that suspended services on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line for hours.

The Metropolitan Police Department and the Tokyo Fire Department began an on-site inspection Saturday of the fire, which started Friday morning at a building near East Japan Railway Co.'s Yurakucho Station in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

About 40 officers from the police and the fire department are looking into where the fire started and what caused it.

The final Tokaido Shinakansen train arrived at Tokyo Station at 1:55 a.m. on Saturday, about two hours behind schedule. Passengers who missed their connections due to the delays were allowed to stay in a "train hotel" comprising three 16-car trains.

As many as about 2,200 people rested in the "train hotel" until about 5 a.m. Saturday morning, when the conventional lines were running again.

The fire reportedly burned a total of about 950 square meters of a three-story wooden building that housed a pachinko parlour and a game arcade, and a neighbouring two-story building.

According to an official of the MPD's Marunouchi Police Station, the area where the game arcade was located was heavily burnt.

Hiroko Kunii, a 72-year-old homemaker living in Higashi-Kurume, Tokyo, stayed in the train. "I had no choice but to stay here because my train arrived at Tokyo Station more than two hours behind schedule. I was surprised to learn a fire could paralyse the transportation network here."

"Train hotels" were also opened at Shin-Osaka, Nagoya and Hakata stations. Dozens of people used the makeshift hotels at the three stations.

According to Central Japan Railway Co., the Tokaido Shinkansen Line began operations on time from the first train on Saturday morning.

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