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Shinkansen driver leaves controls for toilet while train running at 150kph

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When you gotta go you gotta go. I've left many controls to go.

40 ( +44 / -4 )

Does a person a control the train? I thought they are their just in case of emergency? Japan is such an ADVANCED country, he should be able to pee.

28 ( +34 / -6 )

Poor guy, must’ve been an emergency. Sounds like poor company guidelines forced him into this situation.

42 ( +45 / -3 )

JR is infamous for the strict control of drivers, bordering on cruelty. It's what led to the Amagasaki incident in Kobe, which left 107 dead and 562 injured. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amagasaki_derailment

26 ( +29 / -3 )

With all the issues surrounding Japanese made trains in UK and Taiwan, consider it lucky that this did not cause a major accident.

-18 ( +7 / -25 )

Easiest solution for this is to have a co pilot .

28 ( +30 / -2 )

We are all humans, when it's time to go we go, the company should have LICENCED BACKUP at all times on all trains to avoid such mishaps, the man did what he has to do knowing it may get him in trouble but could not avoid it.

Not his fault that JR does not have a backup.

39 ( +39 / -0 )

*with the express train bound for Shin-Osaka passing by the Mishima station about *one minute behind schedule.

LOL!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

100% JR's fault for not having a backup driver. Instead of blaming the driver they should issue apologies to all travelers for being cheap on resources.

41 ( +42 / -1 )

Under JR Central rules, a driver who experiences a health problem while operating a bullet train is supposed to report the matter to the operations center and either turn over the controls to a conductor licensed to drive or else stop the train at the nearest station.

Suppose "nature calls" and the nearest station is at least 10 or 15 minutes away. Then, what do you suggest? Under the circumstance, I think the right call was made (no pun intended). If they are concerned about safety and licensed operators, then, like airline pilots, a second person should be available.

26 ( +26 / -0 )

This probably has happened many times it was found out only because this time there was a delay.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

"Under JR Central rules, a driver who experiences a health problem while operating a bullet train is supposed to report the matter to the operations center and either turn over the controls to a conductor licensed to drive or else stop the train at the nearest station."

Sounds like the train didn't have licensed conductor this man could turn to. JR should be happy it was only a bathroom emergency and not a more serious one where the conductor becomes incapacitated.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

He should have PEED in the control room, then the company will get the message and do something about it.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

So much for relaxing because you can trust Japan's penchant for "safety."

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Truckers will pee into a bottle if they can't stop or are in a hurry. You can often find pet bottles on the side of the road full of piss. They're called "trucker bombs" in the industry. As for Shinkansen drivers, they're is no other option than to either leave the controls or crap/piss your pants. Why is this the case? Because its Japan and workers are expected to work, not use the toilet on company time.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

@Eurodude

100% JR's fault for not having a backup driver. Instead of blaming the driver they should issue apologies to all travelers for being cheap on resources.

Yes, especially considering that at full price, shinkansen tickets are not cheap and can easily cost more than a plane ticket abroad.

I always feel like in these sorts of incidents, corporations always want to put the blame on one individual, never thinking about the big picture as to why these things happen until it's too late.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I thought the engineer's seat at a potty hatch onto the tracks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The lead of this article should read: "The driver of a Shinkansen bullet train left the cabin to deal with an abdominal pain while the train was running at 150 kilometers per hour ...."

Many people seem to be misinterpreting the reported facts.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm so glad I have a job where I don't have to worry about me going to take a dump will somehow end up making national headlines.

Seriously this has to be the most mortifyingly embarrassing thing to ever happen to anyone anywhere. This should be turned into a movie.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Empty PET bottle under the deadman handle. There should be co-drivers on those long runs.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tom DoleyToday  07:37 am JST

With all the issues surrounding Japanese made trains in UK and Taiwan, consider it lucky that this did not cause a major accident.

This is totally irrelevant and nothing to do with this incident. Issues with Hitachi trains in the UK are with trains made in the UK by Hitachi UK and the recent crash in Taiwan involving a Hitachi made train was caused by a truck rolling onto the line.

The Nippon Sharyo made train which crashed in Taiwan 4 years ago was said to have been caused by an administrative error by an investigation but is being disputed.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"abdominal pain" is Japanese for "urgent diarrhea". It was not something that could be taken care of by peeing in a bottle. The driver dealt with the emergency as best he could.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Time to license the snack cart ladies for these kinds of emergencies.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Blame it on JR Train Company, 100%. How do you NOT have a back up or co driver in the train?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

A PET bottle is of no use if it's number two. I mean, seriously, have any of you tried?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

JR too cheat to pay for a co-pilot? Then at least they should pay for a complete year's worth of adult diapers for each solo driver within the system.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

co driver is the solution?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It seems to me train drivers really need diaper if they can't go to toilet while running. Or two drivers are always very necessary in control room. If all of them can't, it will happen again and again. Human is human, not machine.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If the rule is to stop at the nearest station, but you know that you won't make it till then, what are you realistically supposed to do?

Sounds like the driver did the next best thing in the circumstances.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is probably the most minor case I could think to highlight why shinkansen should have co-pilots.

In this case sure, maybe he could have followed protocols to find a licensed conductor or stop the train. Though from the fact he did grab a conductor, just not a licensed one, sounds like he was getting the nearest person because it was an emergency.

What if he had a stroke or more serious medical emergency while operating the train? How does he follow the protocol in that case?

Emergencies happen and if you are that concerned about a driver not being at the helm, you need to have redundancies.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The articles mentions existing rules for dealing with the absence of a driver, presumably in cases of indisposition such as this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I side with the driver here, although between Atami and Mishima the train only need about 10 minutes, if I remember right. Again, JR is cruelly treating their drivers, then punishes them for it. After JR, through its idiotic policies killed so many people in Amagasaki, it is regrettable JR didn't learned from their mistakes and continues its abuse of employees. I'm fully expecting some very high level managers to get fired over this incident, not the poor driver who was left with no humane choice.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

"I wanted to avoid delaying the train by stopping it (at the nearest station)," he was quoted by the company as saying.

Most likely would've been severely reprimanded if he stopped the train.

So my question is, was there another conductor licensed to drive on the train?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Have a spare driver at all times incase of emergency or train the conductors for such! What happens if a driver has a medical emergency? who drives then??? Trying to save money and putting lives at risk is not an excuse. Management heads need to roll!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Come on, don't tell us this situation has never occurred in 40 years while operating a shinkansen? Just what is the guy supposed to do in an emergency situation? Amongst train drivers I'm sure this is standard operating procedure. Why have stupid rules that cannot be followed? This is Japan, for the same rationale why the Olympic games cannot be cancelled!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I think the railway management has been lulled into a sense of complacency owing to the shinkansen's exceptionally good safety record. The incident serves as a reminder that things can go wrong and that redundancy and backups need to be re-evaluated.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I understand the security and punctuality issues here, however he is a human being, not a machine...I feel bad for him...I remember a train got derailed back in 2006? close to Kobe because the young driver was stressed and very worried to be one or two minutes late to his next stop...haste makes waste people...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If they truly want these people to work as machines then make them machines...fully automate the dang trains...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

These trains pretty much drive themselves. “The nail that stands up must be hammered down!”

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Of course, that’s a management error. Without a second licensed spare driver already the train departure had to be stopped. Unbelievable, considering to put the guilt and consequences on the sick driver and helping conductor.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not sure what world people are living in where they think it makes sense to add an extra driver, that's completely unnecessary, expensive, and is only improving punctuality, not safety. All that was needed here in this RARE, URGENT situation was for the train to stop briefly, let the poor man take care of urgent business, then proceed to the next station. Sure, that requires other trains to stop briefly too, but this is not the end of the world.

It reflects poorly on JR that he didn't feel that this was an option.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@ADK99

In this scenario that would work, but that doesn't account for other more serious possibilities. What if he had a sudden stroke, seizure, or heart attack that incapacitated him before he was able to follow the procedure to notify the station and make a sudden unexpected stop?

Yes there are automatic safety features built in, but if those are reliable enough why is it an issue if he had to make an emergency bathroom trip? If they aren't reliable enough, there needs to be an alternative failsafe.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It reflects poorly on JR that he didn't feel that this was an option

That could be a reason, or we could choose to believe him that he wanted to avoid delaying the train. He would have gotten away with it except maybe he was gone away too long from the controls the train slowed enough to be noticeable

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Addfwyn

What if he had a sudden stroke, seizure, or heart attack that incapacitated him before he was able to follow the procedure to notify the station and make a sudden unexpected stop?

Well, what do you think happens if the driver has a stroke? The train just carries on at 200km/h until it crashes? No, the train comes to a controlled stop.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Luckily the train did not have an accident. 160 passengers.

Drivers should wear diapers or be given bottles to pee in. You may laugh, but why not?

Leaving your post while train is moving at 150km/hr is irresponsible and dangerous.

Wonder what the punishment will be,,,

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Nothing a wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle wouldn't sort out.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The trains are basically computer controlled, except when below around 80 km/hr pulling into stations, and manually stopping in the right place. However, the guard manages the actual timing and variations in speed with his analogue timepiece!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Shinkansens as well as ever other train nowadays in Japan have ATC, ATS and dead man switch systems. Dead man switch is super old system and essentially it will either require drivers to press it regularly or keep it pressed usually with leg in order to tell the system that the driver is conscious otherwise it will apply brakes. ATC is system which signals maximum speed on the track section and if drivers continue to drive faster it will apply brakes. Finally ATS is is a signal that can be activated remotely to stop the train. Speaking of shinkansens, they operate on isolated tracks so there is virtually no danger for collision with cars, people etc. Since conductor was inside in the worst case he could apply emergency brakes (big red button). So, the possibility for the accident was minimal. After all this technical explanation we come to the typical traditional Japanese “logic” or therefore lack of it - rules. Driver probably had explosive diarrhea. Anyone who ever experienced the same condition knows that you can probably hold it for couple minutes tops. He did the best thing at the moment. The next station was probably too far, certified driver was not aboard the train so he asked non certified conductor. Although not certified I am positive that he knows how to drive it. However they will probably punish the poor dude because he used logic and did not follow the “holy” rules. If he followed the rules for sure he would redecorate cockpit in brown tones.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think I can safley say that weve all been in this situation before, you know when you get those serious stomach pains it doubles you up leaving you breathless, you know that youve got about 20 seconds to get to a toilet, if not your going to be in a lot of mess. As for stopping a 200MPH train, getting out, finding a toilet on the station in reality is not an option. I dont think that the train driver made that decision to get out of his seat lightly, iam sure it would have been the last resort. I do feel sorry for him I just hope his bosses see that it was the only option for him.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Will JR be removing driver seats and installing cammodes?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In any case, the Shinkansen could be fully automated if only the initiative were there.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A driver of a shinkansen (bullet train) left the cabin to use the toilet while the train was running at 150 kilometers per hour with some 160 passengers on board in central Japan, Central Japan Railway Co said Thursday.

After this incident, I wonder if they'll provide chamber pots or issue adult diapers to their train drivers. Considering how punctual trains arrive in Japan, he'd probably be in hot water for letting the train slow down to safely take a leak either way. I side the driver too, poor guy. This makes me wonder about military aircraft pilots if they ever need to go mid-mission.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The best solution is to supply train drivers with a urine bottle , so that they can relieve themselves without leaving the cockpit. American truck drivers are known for using plastic milk jugs in order to pass urine while driving, thereby saving fuel and keeping on schedule.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japanese trains, including bullet trains, are known for punctual operations, with delays of even a few minutes becoming a big issue for operators and a target of media scrutiny.

Beating the wrong horse.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"one minute behind schedule" and ''adominal pain"!! How human can the driver be! Need robots.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A train running at 150kph only has one driver? What if he had a stroke?

This is not the driver's fault, but a mismanagement and criminal neglect of the safety of passengers on the company and government.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@ADK99

Well, what do you think happens if the driver has a stroke? The train just carries on at 200km/h until it crashes? No, the train comes to a controlled stop.

You mean the driver needs to have a stroke before the train can be stopped? That means he can't go to the toilet no matter what because he doesn't have a co-pilot.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

maybe have at least two drivers on a train?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

According to the company, the driver felt abdominal pain. The conductor sat on a jump seat during the driver's absence without operating the train.

They should address and clarify this problem. Either clarify that he does not get punished if he delays the train at the next stop, or requiring diapers? The I see the situation, he was put in an impossible place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How many people got hurt during those three minutes the driver left another conductor in control?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So really what they needed was an emergency licensing procedure to temporarily promote the conductor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So why doesn't JR employ a backup driver for all shinkansen runs? They are cutting costs and risking lives, the way I read it...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

justaskingToday  04:13 pm JST

A train running at 150kph only has one driver? What if he had a stroke?

This is not the driver's fault, but a mismanagement and criminal neglect of the safety of passengers on the company and government.

Oh give it a rest. Do you drive a car? Do you ever carry passengers who can't drive and thus take over in an emergency? What happens to other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians etc. if you have a stroke when driving? Does your car have an automatic safety system to stop it if something happens to you? etc. etc. etc.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It is a question of time before all trains and planes are completely run by AI (as already done with trams and drones). Right now, it is just a question of conditioning the public to accept that. Until then, they need a rule for human emergencies like that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dman

Easiest solution for this is to have a co pilot .

Or a bottle ^_^

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I am surprised they do not have an emergency portable toilet in place in the driver's cabin. He is human after all and if he has such an issue and has to go then there should be a contingency plan in place especially when you are dealing with hundreds of passengers lives. Have travelled on these trains hundreds of times and noticed sometimes the distance between two stations can be close to or over an hour. Example Nagoya and Tokyo or Shin Osaka and Nagoya. Hopefully JR can look into this quickly to avert any future incidents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"abdominal pain" is Japanese for "urgent diarrhea". It was not something that could be taken care of by peeing in a bottle. The driver dealt with the emergency as best he could.

Correct. A bottle isn't going to do you much good.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What would happen if a driver were incapacitated by a heart attack or stroke? Is there a deadman's handle?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bad case of geri. When you gotta go........

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Have the driver's seat double as a toilet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

expat

What would happen if a driver were incapacitated by a heart attack or stroke? Is there a deadman's handle?

Don´t you think that is the reason why he asked the conductor for help?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds like someone had a hangover! Often happens to me. Fortunately, I am not in charge of the lives/safety of hundreds of people when it happens.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

How about having a chemical toilet underneath his seat?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Looks like JR needs reprimanding before the driver. 150 kph with 160 passengers and no backup? That's not cool, I don't care how good a track record JR has.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This poor guy obviously had a sudden attack of diarrhoea. It can happen to anyone and is not his fault. What was he supposed to do? If he couldn't reach the next station his only options were: (i) stop the train on the track and go to the loo or (ii) ask the conductor to stand in for him for a few minutes. He chose the latter, presumably because he knew that the company would punish him for delaying the train had he chosen the former.

It is comendable that train companies want to maintain punctuality, but then they should ensure the conductors are able to deputise for the driver in emergencies. From the article it seems that many are, so it is the company's fault for not ensuring that this particular conductor was also properly trained.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There should be a co-driver in such cases... and yes, I do not blame the driver, but I blame the Company for it:s Amazon-esque working practices, peeing into a bottle would be okay ? Crapping into a box okay ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dont become a train driver these days... its not a happy life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Better to communicate to dispatcher to change driver at next station, to take restroom break . . . .relieving driver can then get off train when driver returns from rest break . . . .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Jtsnose

Better to communicate to dispatcher to change driver at next station, to take restroom break . . . .relieving driver can then get off train when driver returns from rest break.

That sounds reasonable, but have you ever experienced something like the famous Delhi Belly? Waiting an hour is not an option.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why is there a driver? Just automate it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gross negligence of the highest order on all fronts. We were lucky this time, but you have to make sure that the driver and the conductor are fully qualified and capable of doing the job on each train like qualified pilots and co-pilots on jetliners.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There should be two drivers in the cabin so if one has to visit the washroom the other can takeover. Or give them adult diapers to wear., simple.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"A train running at 150kph only has one driver? What if he had a stroke?"

There was a co-driver.

An "untrained" conductor, whatever that means.

However, it is not true that the control room was totally unattended.

Only JT's lack of proper reporting coupled with JTeer's penchant for beating on anything Japanese prevents some from doing a little "investigation".

"Gravitas: Japan bullet train runs late after driver's toilet break"

"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmnj4yIvQXw"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When you've got to, you've got to go.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some Shinkansen has dual seats while others only have one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Imagine if passengers jets had only one pilot.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Require the drivers to wear a diaper

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

shogun36

Blame it on JR Train Company, 100%. How do you NOT have a back up or co driver in the train?

I do not know of any trains in the world that have 2 drivers, do you?

However, I expect in the near future there will be 1 driver plus 1 AI. (Same for airplanes).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Explain to me why there wasn't a co-driver? I assume that it's a long haul journey so if the primary driver fell ill, why did he not have a backup? Sudden onsets of illnesses can be debilitating and the company expected their employees to what, Jackson Pollock their seat while they wait to pull in to the near train station? Madness...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

purple_depressed_bacon

Explain to me why there wasn't a co-driver?

Because trains, unlike airplanes, do not have co-drivers? Too simple?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Solution .... Trainee Driver must be present on all trips, their dual function is to check tickets, doors, and generally understand the trains that they are to be eventually driving.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just like an Aeroplane... what happens if the Shinkansen Train Driver suffers an unexpected Medical Emergency ?

I think... Japan needs either to have (1) Remote drivers on demand - most likely, or (2) Co-Driver / Trainee - least likely.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and in the remote drivers situation... should the remote connection facility fail, then other staff members should be trained on how to stop the train if the remote attempts to do so have failed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I "feel" for that driver... it's not his fault... however it raises serious issues over the operational aspect of high speed trains, something which needs addressing .... do even such trains have "black-boxes* ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

mmwkdw

Just like an Aeroplane... what happens if the Shinkansen Train Driver suffers an unexpected Medical Emergency ?

Trains have a dead man switch, which will stop them. You think that would work on a plane, except while it is on the tarmac?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why there is no one to replace the driver in emergency???

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Paul

Why there is no one to replace the driver in emergency???

Did you read the article? The conductor was there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Company should issue incontinence underwear to all driver so this does not happen again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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