Photo/IllutrationAn E-5 series Shinkansen that features in Yamabiko train services (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

SENDAI--The driver of a high-speed Shinkansen bullet train admitted to being asleep at the wheel when he pulled into JR Sendai Station on April 1 and overshot the stopping point.

The Tohoku Shinkansen Line train arrived at the station at faster than normal speed, forcing the conductor to apply the emergency brakes.

The train came to a halt 20 meters beyond its designated stop, and had to reverse, according to the Sendai branch office of operator East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) on April 13.

Initially, the driver in his 40s said that he mistook the stopping point. But on April 13, he admitted that he had been nodding off at the time.

The train carried 500 or so passengers, none of whom was injured.

According to the branch office, the Shinkansen, Yamabiko No. 59, departed from Tokyo and was bound for Morioka. The incident occurred around 10:20 p.m.

The glitch forced a 90-second delay in the service.

At first, the driver told in-house investigators that he mistook the 250-meter-long Yamabiko train consisting of 10 cars for a 400-meter-long Hayabusa-Komachi train with 17 cars and, as a result, stopped at the wrong spot.

Because his explanation was vague, branch office staff pressed him on certain points.

Finally, on April 13, he admitted to dropping off about four minutes before arriving at Sendai Station.

The driver had six years of experience at being at the controls of Shinkansen trains. There was nothing to indicate that anything was untoward before he boarded the Yamabiko No. 59 on April 1, officials said.