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Transportation

10 typhoon-damaged bullet trains head for the scrapheap

Overflowing rivers submerged JR East's Nagano rail yard

Hokuriku Shinkansen trains are seen partially submerged at a rail yard in Nagano Prefecture on Oct. 13. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- East Japan Railway said Wednesday that it will scrap a third of the bullet trains that serve on a line that cuts across central Japan, following water damage from when Typhoon Hagibis hit last month.

JR East's Hokuriku Shinkansen line connects Tokyo to the city of Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan. It is operated jointly with West Japan Railway.

The line has 30 trains, 24 of which are typically in service at any given time as the rest are inspected or held as backups. Ten trains were submerged at a Nagano Prefecture rail yard after Hagibis caused rivers to overflow their banks. Damaged motors and other electrical equipment under the cars led JR East to deem the trains unsafe.

Eight trains owned by JR East have a book value of 11.8 billion yen ($108 million), while two trains owned by JR West are worth 3 billion yen. These amounts, minus the value of certain salvageable parts, are expected to be booked as extraordinary losses in the current fiscal year through March 2020.

The Hokuriku Shinkansen is currently running at about 80% of normal service. JR East President Yuji Fukasawa apologized to riders for the reduced service at a regular news conference Wednesday.

"We will put all our efforts toward restoring service so that the number of trains returns to 100% by fiscal year-end," Fukasawa said.

JR East is poised to book other extraordinary losses this fiscal year, such as for equipment at rail yards. These stand to dent earnings further, on top of an estimated 12 billion yen decrease in passenger revenue in October due to typhoon-related service suspensions.

Plans call for the number of trains providing direct service between Tokyo and Kanazawa to return to the pre-typhoon level by month's end.

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