Photo/IllutrationSakudaira Station is packed with students commuting by Shinkansen in Saku, Nakano Prefecture, on Oct. 23. (Takuya Isayama)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NAGANO--Droves of students took the bullet train to school in eastern parts of this prefecture where local train lines remain disrupted by the typhoon that lashed Japan earlier this month.

The Nagano prefectural government and railway operator East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) introduced the alternative transportation on Oct. 23, making use of Hokuriku Shinkansen trains.

About 2,000 students mainly in high school or university only need their commuter passes to use bullet trains to get to their classes.

Service between Shinano Railway Co.’s Tanaka and Ueda stations was suspended after a bridge crossing the line collapsed in the Oct. 12 disaster.

The bridge in Tomi is near the Chikumagawa river, which flooded in heavy rainfall brought by the typhoon.

As the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Shinano Railway lines run in parallel, students can reach their schools by transferring to local trains or buses at Ueda, Sakudaira or Karuizawa stations.

Non-reserved cars on the first Asama bullet train from Karuizawa Station to Nagano Station were filled on the day the measure took effect, with many passengers standing in the aisles.

Mizuki Shinjo, a 16-year-old first-year student at Ueda High School who lives in Saku in the prefecture, boarded at Sakudaira Station.

“After local trains were disrupted, I used the Shinkansen at my family’s expense,” she said. “My parents say it is very helpful now that I can ride it using only my commuter pass.”

It is unknown when the local rail service along the disrupted section will resume.

A JR East official said the alternative bullet train transportation is an “extraordinary measure” that is expected to continue until at least the middle of November.