On Feb 14, three individuals got on the railway tracks between Katakami and Sango stations on JR West’s Yamato line, stopping the special train Asuka, which in turn disrupted the operation of 19 trains affecting 13,000 passengers. There were approximately 50 train buffs with cameras in hand.
JR West could not understand the reason why the incident that happened on this particular day, since the special train was in service seven times during the month. But according to one train fan, this was the only time the train was running with its head mark, which happens only once in several years.
A number of accidents occur because of these avid fans of the railway – whose hobby includes photographing, enjoying the train ride itself, and even an obsession with trains to be decommissioned.
For the most part, such folks are harmless, but there have been instances where enthusiasm turned into rowdiness. When securing a spot on the platform for photo shooting, these overzealous train fans can be a nuisance not only to regular passengers but also to the train and station crew. In fact, a man whose camera tripod fell onto the tracks was hit by the train and died in 2008. Theft of train parts is not uncommon either.
Travel writer Ryozo Kawashima predicts mayhem on March 12, when the “Blue Train” Hokuriku, an express sleeper train, will make its last trip from Ueno to Kanazawa. Having learned its lesson from the past, JR East is preparing to boost security at both stations. How effective this measure will be remains to be seen.
But beware railway fans – disruption of railway services can result in a prison sentence of up to two years and railway companies are entitled to seek damages of several million yen.© Japan Today