Japan's renowned Bullet train or 'Shinkansen' for the first time since 2001 faced a near-disaster that was averted just in time before the train could have derailed at a very high speed.

The Japan Transport Safety Board has swiftly begun probe into the "Serious incident." The initial hearing of the official version of the operator West Japan Railway Co. revealed that the crew of the Nozomi No. 34 bound for Tokyo noticed the leak of oil on Monday afternoon after sensing a burning smell once the train left the tracks of Kokura Station in Fukuoka.

Soon the train was stopped at the next station Nagoya and the maintenance crew aboard the shinkansen who had heard an abnormal motor sound since Okayama Station said they judged it would not affect the operation of the train and continued the run.

The train was carrying some 1,000 passengers from Hakata station in Fukuoka and the leak ofoil was found to be coming from a crack underneath the steel frame of the fourth carriage of the 16-car bullet train. JR West said the crack was not found when it conducted a routine inspection of the train earlier.

Otherwise, Japan has an impressive record of railway safety and so far recorded only two major rail accidents in recent history. The Tsurumi collision of two passenger trains in 1963 left 162 people killed and in 2005, the Amagasaki train derailment resulted in 106 deaths including the driver.

(With inputs from IANS)