Pram safety aboard trains a growing problem


From the end of March, JR East Japan and a consortium of railway companies in the Kanto and Kansai regions launched a joint campaign appealing to mothers who bring their “beibii kaa” (prams or baby buggies) aboard public transport.

As reported in the Sankei Shimbun (April 22), the main thrust of the campaign was to discourage “kake-komi” (boarding in a rush), but the message also requests that the prams be folded up, especially when the train is crowded.

On March 25, the day after the campaign was announced, the Sankei received a call from an indignant mother of three, who told them, “I have to take my kids everywhere I go. This isn’t simply a question of manners aboard trains. If they’re going to set aside women’s only cars on the trains, then they should arrange for a car for parents with prams as well. Otherwise I won't be able to take my child to the doctor.”

According to JR, the campaign was spurred by about 380 calls over the first three months of this year. More than 70% of the callers requested more measures to provide safe, “barrier free” facilities for prams at stations. Another 15% called to express thanks to station staff who had provided assistance to help a mother negotiate steps, and so on. The remaining callers requested that folding up prams while on board be made compulsory, or asked that announcements be made to request that other passengers move aside to make room for the prams.

Several potentially serious mishaps with prams have occurred. In February 2006, the front wheels of a pram became caught in the closing door of a JR commuter train, which was dragged for 20 meters before the train could be stopped. Last September, a more serious mishap occurred on the Nankai Line in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, where the door closed on the handle of a pram that a mother was pulling off the train, and she was dragged 140 meters before the train halted.

“We are making efforts to improve safety measures, but at the same time we’d like to appeal to passengers with prams to exercise sensible precautions. However, we are not necessarily saying they must fold up the prams when boarding and disembarking,” a spokesperson for JR explains.

“I think the campaign is a good thing, if only to alert people to the dangers of moving about with prams and making people use them more cautiously,” says Mari Yokoya, director of the Institute for Child Safety. “In stations full of people rushing about, it’s easy for mishaps to occur. Sometimes people who collide with the pram might stumble or even fall. People need to exercise more caution in looking where they’re going.”

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how about a campaign to tell people to stop blocking doors so people with pram can enter safely? Or tell people that prams have priority when they go out or in of a car and people have to let them pass?

The poeple with prams are no always the ones to blame....

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It`s not just the prams. All those people in recent years who have their little suitcases on wheels are dangerous, too. An elderly person here and there is understandable, but this trend is getting ridiculous; dangerous on and off the trains and around the platforms. People are so darn lazy. They do not want to carry even small bags anymore.

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how about people saying "excuse me", "pardon me", "sumimasen" etc. instead of just barging in? why should i move if someone does not even give me this common courtesy?

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In a country with so many rules and regulations about every conceivable thing, how about a limit on the number of humans that can be mashed into a train car and if exceeded a red light would go on and the train would not move until some people got off. No wonder it is so hard to raise children here.

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but the message also requests that the prams be folded up, especially when the train is crowded.

I think thats wrong actually.. a poor mother loaded to the gills with bags and general baby gear is spose to then carry her pram and hold he child as well? how about people give the courtesy to the mother?

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A family car is a good idea, for parents with children. It should be placed near the elevator entrances if possible too, and marked well on the platform.

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Unreal. Over 70% of the callers to JR wanted JR to provide better and safer facilities for prams, and JR turns around launches a campaign pointing the finger at the mothers. And asking them to fold their prams, even though only a few calls were aimed at that concern. Am I missing something? I guess it is a lot cheaper for JR to launch this campaign than to actually make their stations more pram-friendly.

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Oh yeah JR, that is real safe. ...expecting a woman to get on and off a train within the few seconds that the door is open while carrying an infant, 3 shopping bags and a folded up pram while at the same time making sure that 3-year old big brother doesnt fall in the gap.

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I agree. I think that the rail companies do not provide sufficient protection nor duty of care for new mothers with young children. Does anyone agree or disagree??

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Don't worry. There is a national campaign going on to fix this pram problem: falling birthrate.

Seriously, I feel some compassion towards some of these women (going to the doctor, etc.), but I don't weep for the ones loaded to the gills with department store/boutique bags. That's elective travel/shopping.

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I call on JR and the Metro companies to issue cattle prods to all mothers with todlers or babies in prams,

But I also ask for parents to use a bit of common sense and try avoiding the rush hours when travelling.

Doing the school commute ourselves has been a challenge - sometimes I am sure our fellow passengers would have preferred the little one sitting quietly in his buggy than throwing a strop and basically making a nuisance of himself. It may have helped had people had manners and given up their courtesy seat when they obviously did not need it as badly.

Thankfully he now stands happily, most of the time...

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JR asks mothers to fold up the buggies, but fails to mention what to do with the infant. If the train is so crowded that it is necessary to fold it up, then the mother would be lucky to get a seat, in which case the mother would be forced to hold a baby/infant in her arms on a moving train, which sounds very dangerous as it could result in the baby being dropped or crushed.

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There are designated areas for people on wheelchairs, why not for prams also.

But more importantly teach courtesy to the younger generation. The ony people who have offered me seats, when I was carrying my kid were old ladies.The younger lot just close their eyes and pretend to be absorbed in whatever is spewing out of their ipods.

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I can't imagine having babies in Japan. No wonder the birth rate is so low here. Life is difficult and stressful.

I feel for those women with two or more little ones. Navigating up and down station stairs, having to carry babies, strollers, and a bag. I always offer to help carry the stroller down when I see someone in need...while masses of salarymen pass by and don't do a thing. Though, there have been times when I've offered help and the mom refused.

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announcements be made to request that other passengers move aside to make room for the prams

That's the world-famous Japanese courtesy for you. Not a thought will enter the head about the people around you unless there's someone official blaring it at you.

And Ulysses, I'd differ with you on your point >But more importantly teach courtesy to the younger generation.

...the shiny-suited salaryman is much less likely to give up his seat (or even to shuffle his fetid arse along a couple of inches so that he's only taking up one seat) than many a chipper young tottie in my experience. I think a lot of the young'uns still try to make an effort, but the general consensus is that if you eat enough gyoza you don't need to budge an inch for anyone.

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well i just got back from japan and wish to say that the JR and suburban line has done a fantastic job of upgrading their stations with lifts and accessible slopes. 5yrs back when i was there these were non-exsitent and would really pity the mothers back then.

i was there with my 20 month old baby which of course i had to bring a “beibii kaa” along.. and boy were we surprised at the lifts that are avaliable.. but one thing i have to say.. the lifts to the platform are either at the end or beginning of the platforms.. seems that that is the only spot which could fit the lift shafts... hahaha sometimes me and mrs had to walk the entire platform to get to the lifts especially tokyo Station..

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