Monday, April 25, 2005

Panic: Disaster In Osaka
We broke our mirrors
Sunday morning is everyday for all I care ...
And I'm not scared
Light my candles in a daze ...
'Cause I've found god
A couple of notes about the train crash outside Osaka today:

1. A new 23 yr old conductor of the JR (Japan Rail) line attempted to back into a station after overshooting (he was going too fast and was behind schedule) a platform, and ended up derailing the train and killing 50 people.

2. JR is usually very good about being on time and whatnot, but it is not unusual for its trains to run a little behind once in while. I take JR everyday from a local Osaka-area station. I didn't realize that the crash was the reason that JR's Special Rapid Service was way behind schedule this morning.

3. I can see that a young train operator would be held responsible. In Japan, young kids and old men revere train conductors. The conductors are extremely proud of their positions, and it shows when they are on the job. I recently witnessed a swearing in of sorts for new recruits for a private company (Kintetsu, Nara Station), and they were probably the proudest group of kids I have seen. I can imagine that the new conductor was trying to save face and be on time.

4. The train was rolling at 133 km/hr at the station, which is about 20 km/hr faster than what the local trains (non-bullet trains/shinkasen) roll at full speed.
He estimated that it would need to have been traveling at 133 kilometers per hour (82 miles per hour) to have jumped the track purely because of excessive speed.
5. Japanese trains are probably the safest on earth, and I would stake big money that an accident like this will not happen again for decades. The last big 'train scare' was a derailment of a shinkasen during an earthquake 4 years ago, when no one was injured or killed.

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