Japan’s travel and transport links crippled

Tokyo’s airports reopen but road, rail and sea links remain poor

Japan’s transport systems continue to experience severe disruption following the devastating earthquake and tsunami on Friday. Foreign ministries in Europe and North America are advising against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and north-eastern Japan. The US State Department, for example, is advising against travel there until at least April 1.
Operations at Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports returned to normal on Saturday. But 400 international flights had been cancelled. Many airlines are allowing passengers to delay their trips to Japan without charge. Japan Rail trains from Tokyo station are not operating or are subject to severe delays, Narita Express services are not running and the Tokyo metro is operating a reduced service. One tour operator reports that “a trip from Tokyo to Narita that normally takes two hours was eight hours”. However, bullet trains and the Tokyo monorail are now in full service. Many roads have been damaged in the Tokyo area and in northern Japan and major highways remain closed. Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to rotate power cuts in five groups, which could affect roughly three million people in Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. Tokyo is also affected, except for the 23 wards that make up the central part of the city. Mobile and landline telephone reception in the affected areas is intermittent.
Around 20,000 people were stranded overnight in the resorts of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, but no injuries or major damage were reported. The resorts will be closed for 10 days. All ports in Japan are closed. Cunard cancelled a scheduled call in Nagasaki for the Queen Mary 2 and Azamara Club Cruises axed a planned call in Osaka. Some 8.6 million foreign tourists visited Japan in 2010.
USA Today / UK FCO
[pictured: near Sendai Port, photo by Yuichiro Haga]