TOKYO -- East Japan Railway faces a potential 29 billion yen ($266 million) bill if flood-damaged bullet trains need to be replaced on the Tokyo-Kanazawa line that resumes direct service next week.
Floodwaters unleashed by Typhoon Hagibis forced JR East to shut down part of the Hokuriku shinkansen, which connects Tokyo and Kanazawa. Direct service between the two cities is expected to be restored Oct. 25, the company said Friday.
But 120 shinkansen cars were flooded at a rail yard in Nagano, accounting for a third of the fleet serving the line. The Hokuriku line's service will reach only 80% or so of regular capacity.
Damage from the storm will impact JR East's financial results for the full year ending March 2020. "There was a decrease in revenue due to the suspension of service, as well as damage to equipment, so we anticipate an effect on earnings," a representative said.
The 120 cars form 10 sets of trains, two of which derailed. The electrical system, including power equipment for signaling devices, appears severely damaged, according to JR East.
The operator says it does not know the full cost of the typhoon's impact. Floodwaters filled affected trains up to the armrests, and the extent of the damage has yet to be determined. The cars will need to be repaired or scrapped.
JR East operates 96 of the flooded cars, with the rest under counterpart West Japan Railway, or JR West. If all the JR East cars are decommissioned, replacing them would take around 29 billion yen, since one car costs roughly 300 million yen.
The train cars are insured, but "the payout is small and whether the coverage applies is uncertain," a JR East representative said.