Railway officials to check why heavy snow left trains stranded

Railway officials in western Japan say they will get to the bottom of the problems that resulted in trains being left stranded for hours in heavy snowfall.

West Japan Railway officials told reporters on Wednesday that they will review their train operations based on the findings.

Heavy snow disrupted trains in western Japan on Tuesday. Fifteen trains on the Kyoto and Biwako lines were stuck between stations, leaving about 7,000 passengers trapped inside for hours. Sixteen people were taken to hospital after falling ill.

The officials said they had decided not to activate devices to defrost tracks based on the expected amount of snowfall. But the decision backfired and resulted in snow getting stuck around railroad switches, making dozens of spots impassable.

Regarding why passengers were trapped in trains for hours, they said they decided to wait until the railroad turnout switches -- which shift trains from one track to another -- were restored so they would not end up dropping the passengers off in the middle of nowhere instead of on a station platform.

The officials said they will review whether they should have activated the defrosting system in the first place and not waited until the turnout switches were functioning.