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Crossed signals risked putting bullet train on fast track to tragedy

Tokyo controllers missed maintenance crew's proposal for an inspection that could have found major damage

Three hours after the first call for maintenance, the damaged bullet train was taken out of service in Nagoya.

OSAKA -- Miscommunication between maintenance staff and train controllers let potentially disastrous damage to one of Japan's shinkansen bullet trains go unaddressed for about three hours, despite an inspection being suggested.

A train experiencing unusual noise, odors and vibrations was allowed to run from Hakata Station, in the southwestern city of Fukuoka, all the way to Nagoya before being taken out of service when a roughly 14cm crack was discovered in the undercarriage of one of the cars. Had the crack widened just 3cm more, the frame could have split, potentially derailing the train.

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