Study classifies drunks and their probability for station platform mishaps


If there were a Murphy's Law about riding Japanese commuter trains, one might state, "The probability of a 'jinshin-jiko' occurring on your line is directly proportional to the urgency with which you need to reach your intended destination."

"Jinshin-jiko" translates literally as "Person-body accident." The term is kept purposely vague, so it might refer to anything from suicide leapers to drunken melees on the station platform. Typically they result in delays, sometimes of several hours, and when they occur, it's common for train stations to post notices advising commuters to seek alternate means of transport to their destinations.

The frequency of accidents on station platforms, often involving inebriated commuters, tends to rise during the year-end party season, during which time railway companies put up "manners posters" appealing to passengers to exercise restraint and show more consideration to their fellow commuters.

J-Cast News (March 20) reports that the West Japan Railway Co has gone the extra mile, so to speak, by monitoring the movements of staggering commuters on station security cameras, to better understand what causes them to have near-fatal brushes with moving trains or -- even worse -- go tumbling off the edge of the platform onto the tracks below.

According to the study's findings, in nearly 90% of such accidents, body movements of the commuters gave telltale indications that an accident was imminent.

The study, conducted by the Safety Laboratory (Anzen Kenkyujo) of JR West Japan, used videos recorded at stations of lines operated by JR West Japan and the Osaka Metropolitan Subway Co over a period of nine months from March 2014.

During this time, 75 platform accidents occurred and in 46 cases the movements of the commuters prior to the accidents were captured by video. Of these, five incidents (or 11%) showed no indications to suggest a mishap might occur. The remainder, however, warranted such descriptions as "Upper body was swaying back and forth," "Staggering," "Had to lean against pillar or wall in order to remain vertical," "stood out conspicuously from the movements of other commuters," and "squatted down on the platform or sprawled out on a bench."

Based on analysis of the videos, platform accidents involving drunks fall into three major categories: 1) those who lean against pillars or walls and are clearly having difficult maintaining their balance. These individuals tend to topple over in the direction of the tracks; 2) those who start moving from the center of the platform in the direction of the tracks at a 90-degree angle and are unable to stop, going off the edge of the platform; and 3) those who walk along the platform parallel to the tracks, losing their balance and stumbling.

As opposed to the third type's accounting for only 11% of all accidents, the second -- walking from the center of the platform toward the edge -- accounted for 59% of the total. Types 1) and 2) accounted for 89% of the accidents.

The research report concluded: "Only scant seconds are available for station staff or platform security staff to notice and warn inebriated passengers who had been standing stationary for some time and then suddenly resumed their motion, and in most cases a warning would come too late."

In search of developing a means of preventing such accidents, the Safety Laboratory intends to pursue further studies.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

It may seem like a research with obvious results, but if it helps the station staff to decide to act and reduces the number of accidents It will be useful. Still the best option is to install barriers but for those stations where the cost is still too high a refinement of the training can be a nice option in the meanwhile.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

JR West? It should be JR East doing the study - as that's where all the problems are. They missed the glaringly obvious factor - 'local' lines. No barriers & with a large percentage of commuters being, shall we say, 'of the aged male variety', this only increases the risks. It sounds ridiculous but if you've lived in Tokyo long enough you'll see that it's almost always a JR line that's had a 'human accident', as they like to call it. And it's always at a station that's outside of Tokyo. Keio & Keikyu lines are also bad - Chuo line being the absolute worst for this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I was in tokyo last week and was surprised with the amount of barriers at stations compared to Osaka (which has only 1 and that is at the Shin-Osaka shinkansen line), good stuff, Osaka should follow suit asap.

As for drunken people, perhaps they ought to get fined heavily for public disturbance.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The Safety Laboratory (Anzen Kenkyujo) of JR West Japan should be nominated for an Ig Noble prize.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

JR West? It should be JR East doing the study - as that's where all the problems are.

Not at all. We had so many suicides by train one weekend (8) that I turned off the 'train delay' notifications on my phone. It rang all weekend; it rings when they jump and stop the train, once more for an estimate of getting the line running again, and once again when the line is up and running again. There are a couple of spots down here on the JR that get a lot of jumpers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I took a slash on a platform in Gunma once.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Much better classification of drunks to be found HERE

0 ( +0 / -0 )

how about just have some cops down there to arrest the public drunks.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

the West Japan Railway Co has gone the extra mile, so to speak, by monitoring the movements of staggering commuters on station security cameras, to better understand what causes them to have near-fatal brushes with moving trains or—even worse—go tumbling off the edge of the platform onto the tracks below.

Maybe they should have spent the money on gates to prevent the accidents.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Just build the gates for goodness sakes.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Waiting for the ChidoriVision warning system.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

JR West has so many "human accidents" on a daily basis that I avoid using it, even though it's cheaper and faster than the private lines. The only exception is the Osaka loopline, which has relatively fewer incidents of suicide simply because the trains run at a slower speed.

Chuo line being the absolute worst for this.

Is it true that they call it "Chuo-cide?"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You can't stop drunks from doing something stupid.

It often happens in a split second, all you can do is react.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How about introducing huge gates between railroad and platform? Or, maybe they could make the platforms slanted toward the center of it in order to prevent drunks from staggering to railroads. But, more importantly, do not drink too much.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is why both JR Group and private railways are installing platform doors and other barriers at urban stations to at least slow down people from falling into the tracks. JR East is currently doing this at many stations in the Tokyo area, and one such project is installing platform doors at every station platform used by Yamanote Line trains. Indeed, the new E235 Series commuter train (the first unit just started testing recently) was designed specifically with these new platform doors in mind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Types 1) and 2) accounted for 89% of the accidents."

If you can't stand, you probably shouldn't be walking around trains. In this research it seems clear enough, those who were too intoxicated to operate a person in the upright position often fell down. If the poor person is operating in a blackout state who can guess what can be done to stop them from falling? Breathalyize at the entry? Everybody?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Barriers to prevent overcrowded platforms being a danger....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites