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Tunnel pump failures halt bullet train service
OSAKA -- Water levels inside an undersea tunnel on the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line increased Monday when the pumps malfunctioned, temporarily halting or delaying bullet train services.
According to West Japan Railway Co., an alarm went off indicating a rise in water levels inside the Shin-Kanmon undersea tunnel in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, at around 11:30 a.m.
The tunnel stretches between Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and the Moji district of Kitakyushu, which are separated by the Kanmon Strait.
Seawater and groundwater constantly leak into the tunnel structure at a pace of several tons per minute, and six pumps automatically remove the water.
However, JR West workers who checked the structure found that all six pumps were out of order. The water level inside the tunnel, which is normally 8 meters below the tracks, has risen to 4 meters below the tracks, the officials said.
JR West halted an Osaka-bound bullet train from Hakata at Kokura Station in Kitakyushu. It resumed its run in about 10 minutes after the tunnel was confirmed safe.
Water levels declined after workers manually operated the pumps. The carrier is now examining the cause of its malfunction.
Three train runs were delayed by up to 10 minutes, affecting some 600 passengers, according to JR West.
-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), March 21, 2000