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Japanese editorial excerpts -2-.

TOKYO, Sept. 9 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

ANATOMY OF A TRAIN DISASTER (The Japan Times, an English-language daily)

The April 25 tragic train crash on the West Japan Railway Co.'s Fukuchiyama Line in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, was the worst rail accident since Japanese National Railways was privatized in April 1987. It killed 106 passengers plus the driver, Ryujiro Takami, 23, and injured 555 others. Many bereaved family members and survivors are reportedly still suffering from traumas.

An interim report, announced Tuesday by the government's Aircraft and Railway Accidents Investigation Commission, has disclosed a finding of erratic behavior on the part of the driver of the seven-car ''rapid service'' (express) train. A decisive factor was the driver's failure to slow down for a curve, which a commission official said led the train to tilt, derail and slam into a nine-story condominium building.

The commission pieced together the following sequence:

The train destined for Doshisha-mae Station via Amagasaki Station pulled into Takarazuka Station, the starting point, at 8:55 a.m. at a speed of more than 60 kph. As the speed limit was 40 kph, the automatic train stoppage system (ATS) activated twice to stop the train.

At Itami Station, the train overran the platform by 70 meters. The driver used a regular brake and an emergency brake.

Because of this overrun, the train left Itami Station at 9:16 a.m. -- 1 minute and 20 seconds behind schedule.

The train reached 125 kph, slightly above the speed limit of 120 kph, several hundred meters before Tsukagoshi Station. The driver applied the brake once just before the train passed that station. Afterward, the brake was not applied for about 40 seconds for some 1,380 meters along a straight section.

The train entered a 304-meter-radius right curve at a speed of more than 110 kph, against a 70 kph speed limit. The driver applied a regular brake only after the train went 25 meters past the start of the curve.

After traveling another 110 meters, the first car tilted to the left, causing derailment, and the first and second cars crashed into a condominium. An emergency brake was automatically activated at impact. The report put the time of the derailment at 9:18:54 a.m.

(Sept. 9)
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Date:Sep 12, 2005
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