1 killed, 1 hurt in collision between Shinkansen, car

YAMAGATA - A Yamagata Shinkansen bullet train collided with a passenger car at a railway crossing Sunday morning, killing the driver of the car and slightly injuring one passenger on the train, according to the police.

The Tsubasa 123 train bound for Shinjo Station from Tokyo Station struck the car on JR East's Ou Line in Takahata in the prefecture at about 9:35 a.m., police said. The Shinkansen train dragged the car for 500 meters.

The car is believed to have been driven by a woman in her 30s of Yonezawa in the pr efecture. Police are trying to identify her.

The train was traveling at 130 kph when the accident occurred. "I braked hard, but it was too late [to stop]," the Shinkansen driver was quoted by police as saying.

There are crossing bars at the site of the accident, but a snowstorm caused low visibility at the time. Police believe the car entered the crossing in spite of the bars.

According to East Japan Railway Co.'s Yamagata branch, the accident suspended services of inbound and outbound trains for about 3½ hours between the Yamagata Shinkansen Line's Fukushima and Shinjo stations, and between the Ou Line's Yonezawa and Yamagata stations. It affected about 7,000 passengers, including some heading home for the New Year's holidays.