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TOKYO (Reuters) - Hundreds of passengers spent a cramped and uncomfortable night and much of Friday morning stuck on a crowded train trapped by heavy snow at a railroad crossing not far from a station in northern Japan, an official said.

The Shinetsu Line in Niigata prefecture came to a halt just before 7 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Thursday with about 430 people on board, many with no seats, before resuming 15-and-a-half hours later.

The train had heating and a washroom but five passengers reported falling ill and were taken to hospital, said a spokesman at East Japan Railway, which operates the line. Passengers were advised not to get off and walk to the station, about a kilometre away, for safety reasons, he said.

Heavy snowfall - more than 10 times the average in some areas - has snarled transportation across northern and western Japan.

The train was stuck in Sanjo city, about 300 km (190 miles) northwest of Tokyo. Sanjo was expecting as much as 20 cm (8 inches) of snow in a six-hour period on Friday.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)

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