A train is stranded on the Shinetsu Line in Sanjo, Niigata Prefecture. (Video taken by Hiroaki Takeda)

More than 400 passengers on a JR Shinetsu Line train in Niigata Prefecture were stranded overnight from Jan. 11 to 12 due to heavy snow, according to East Japan Railway Co. (JR East).

In addition, up to 410 cars on the Hokuriku Expressway were stuck in a border area between Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures though the figure decreased to 100 as of noon on Jan. 12, Central Nippon Expressway Co. (NEXCO Central Japan) said.

Heavy snow is expected to continue to fall on Jan. 13 in a wide range from northern Japan to western Japan due to influences from a strong cold air mass.

According to JR East’s Niigata branch office, the four-car train with about 430 passengers on board was running while pushing snow on the tracks out of its way. However, it became unable to move in the stretch between Tokoji and Obiori stations, both located in Sanjo, at around 7 p.m. due to the accumulation of heavy snow. At that time, the snow depth was 77 centimeters.

As roads were also snowpacked, JR East was forced to refrain from transporting passengers to other areas on buses and taxis.

A man in his 40s who reported symptoms of dehydration was carried out of the train on a stretcher. Two women were also taken from the train as they reported feeling ill.

JR East delivered water to the passengers at around 2:40 a.m. and food at 5 a.m.

From early in the morning on Jan. 12, passengers began to disembark from the train as their family members arrived to pick them up. However, about 200 passengers still remained as of 9 a.m.

The train resumed operations at 10:26 a.m.

Recalling the long hours aboard the train, Yui Miyajima, 21, a company employee, said, “JR staff members only said that they were engaged in snow removal. There was no other information from them. So passengers were reading the news on their smartphones.”

Many of the passengers were junior and senior high school students on their way home. Some were third-year students of senior high schools who plan to take unified entrance examination for universities on Jan. 13 and 14. They passed the time on the train by reading reference books.

On the Hokuriku Expressway, outbound lanes were closed between the Kanazawa-Morimoto Interchange (IC) in Ishikawa Prefecture and Oyabe IC in Toyama Prefecture from 10:15 p.m., followed by inbound lanes about an hour and a half later, reported NEXCO Central Japan’s Kanazawa branch office.

All the inbound and outbound lanes were still closed between Maruoka IC in Fukui Prefecture and Toyama IC as of 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 12. As of noon, 100 cars were still stuck in the outbound lanes, it added.