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Bullet train was 3cm away from potential disaster

Crack could have caused derailment; operator took three hours to stop the train

The crack in the bullet train's undercarriage is 3cm short of completely severing the steel frame. (Courtesy of JR West / Kyodo)

TOKYO -- One of Japan's celebrated shinkansen bullet trains was only 3cm away from a possible disaster, including derailment, its operator West Japan Railway (JR West) has revealed.

A 14cm crack was found on Dec. 11 in the undercarriage of one of the trains. Had it severed the whole 17cm steel frame, the train's wheels could have left the tracks, experts said.

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