Train passengers stranded by snow in Niigata

Train passengers stranded by snow in Niigata”

Passengers on a train in Japan were stranded overnight on Thursday, January 11, after heavy snowfall blocked railway lines.

According to the Niigata branch of East Japan Railway Co., the four-car train - which departed Niigata Station and was bound for Nagaoka Station in the prefecture - was forced to stop on a section between Tokoji and Obiori stations Thursday night due to snow that had accumulated on the railway.

These videos, taken by an onlooker, show efforts by a railway worker to shovel snow off the tracks in front of the train. About 430 passengers were able to get off at stations along the line.

The company said it considered arranging alternative transportation for the passengers but gave up after bus operators said the snow would likely prevent them from approaching the train. Some of them were picked up by their families after 4:30 AM on Friday.

The operator said the interior lighting and heating systems had worked properly and it had distributed water and nutrition bars, but the train only had one toilet requiring people to wait in long queues and the toilet paper ran out, according to passengers.

Five passengers, who said they did not feel well, were taken off the train, which reportedly had electricity and heat. Two women who felt ill were also rescued.

Two following trains also came to a halt, leaving an additional 400 passengers temporarily stranded but they were later transported by buses.

Unusually heavy snowfall has hit the region since Thursday, with levels up to 10 times the seasonal average in some areas. Weather officials are warning that the severe conditions may continue until Saturday. Some expressways were impassable for a while.

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