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JR doing away with train departure chimes on Joban line in bid to stop dangerous mad dashes

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

In rail-reliant Japan, trains come and go with such frequency that most stations don’t bother to have an actual employee individually announce each arrival and departure. Instead, there’s usually a pre-recorded voice that lets travelers know when the train is pulling up, and after it’s been stopped for a few moments, a chime plays from speakers on the platform, signaling that the doors are about to close and the train will be departing shortly.

However, East Japan Railway (JR East) thinks that some would-be passengers aren’t getting the intended message of “The train will be departing soon, so please step aboard calmly and orderly.” Instead, they think some people interpret the chime as “Run as fast as you can to the train and don't stop no matter what; hurry, hurry, you're gonna miss it."

While Japan is a country that hates being late, it also doesn’t like people running full tilt through the station and crashing into other travelers, often getting to the train just in time to stick a hand in the closing doors, causing the conductor to open the doors back up again and delaying the departure.

Many of Japan’s stations require you to navigate steep stairs on your way to the platform, which can lead to nasty injury-inducing spills if you’re not walking carefully.

So in an attempt to combat such behavior, JR East will be doing away with the platform departure chime for certain trains on the Joban Line, which runs north from Tokyo. Starting Aug 1, no departure chime will play from the platform speakers for local trains travelling between Tokyo’s Kameari Station and Ibaraki Prefecture’s Toride Station.

JR’s logic is that the platform speakers are too effective, pumping out the chimes with enough volume that people can hear them even if they’re still at the station entrance or elsewhere in the building yet not close enough to the station to catch the train without running at a dangerous speed. However, the company also realizes it can’t just have trains shutting their doors and leaving without any warning either, and so it’s arrived at a compromise. Instead of using the large platform speakers, the local trains will announce their departure via smaller external speakers mounted on the train carriages themselves, which should still be loud enough so that anyone close enough to make their way onto the train in time while still moving at a reasonable speed can hear the chime.

The Joban Line initiative is a limited-time test program, but if it’s found to be effective, JR says it will consider expanding it to other lines it operates as well.

Source: Kyodo via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese train company issues official apology for “inexcusable” 25-second early departure

-- Woman kills self jumping onto train tracks, delay causes conductor to jump off tracks at other station

-- Star Wars and Darth Vader theme melodies now being played at Tokyo train stations 【Video】

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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When coming back from abroad one really notices just how loud Japan is. Travelling to the station, one is bombarded with a cacophony of sounds - I mean, for Pete's sake is it really necessary to announce everything over and over again. It as if no-one can be trusted to think for themselves.

Oh, wait...

20 ( +23 / -3 )

noise capital of the universe.... and the sheer decibelity is increasing all the time... soon, all public areas will be like Bic and Yodobashi.... lovely


11 ( +14 / -3 )

I've experienced this madness on nearly a daily basis. Once, in Higashi-Kanagawa station, I was ascending the stairs with others who had been on my train. Some guy running full tilt cut the corner at the top of the stairs in his effort to catch the train we had just disembarked from. He ran smack into an older woman next to me, and she started falling backward. My arm shot out on its own and stopped her fall. The guy was oblivious.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

When coming back from abroad one really notices just how loud Japan is. 

Not only train stations, but ski resorts are loud as hell here, too. Instead of enjoying the quiet beautiful scenery while riding a lift chair above the tree tops, I have to listen to J-pop at full volume.

I'd love to have a nationwide "no music/announcement week" just to hear how nice and quiet it'd be.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

The chimes cause a pavlovian response by many commuters. I've often seen people start running when they hear the chimes, even though they're going to a different platform than the one the chimes are coming from.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Not just train stations, supermarkets play the most annoying announcements on a loop. And everybody yelling at you for just stepping into a shop. All adds up to a aggressive environment where it's best to stay at home get what you need off the web net.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Travelling to the station, one is bombarded with a cacophony of sounds

take a walk through Bic Camera man... sheeesh! How can you make a thoughtful purchase with music blaring in your ear? What is the reason for this?

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Yep! What kind of an idiot runs to catch a train that comes every three minutes?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

How can you make a thoughtful purchase with music blaring in your ear? What is the reason for this?

Perhaps the pernicious effects of pachinko parlours is worse than we thought, and a goodly proportion of the population is stone deaf?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Dango Bong: my theory is the noise is to induce panic and induce impulse purchased. I avoid stores like the plague during the new year as it is especially bad then.

As for train stations, wayyy too loud. I hope they have all trains copy this style to reduce noise pollution.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Yep! What kind of an idiot runs to catch a train that comes every three minutes?

Like running red lights, perhaps that's a byproduct of 'just-in-time' culture.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Yeah. The noise pollution is way over the top here. What really gets to me is the gas pumps. You can't even fill your car up with gas without getting blasted with some music commercial.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I like the train chimes. Everytime I go to Tokyo and get on the yamanote line, its lovely. If we are talking about noise pollution, come on, walk into a conbini or usual store and you will be welcomed every 15 seconds with a loud "irrasshaimaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee". Bic Camera and Yodobashi camera's have extremely annoying music, ads, announcements every 5 seconds, then there are the huge trucks that blast out music on the street and last but not least don't forget about the bloody pachinkos that give your eardrums a shockwave every time you pass and the door opens. Yep I guess Japan is no1. for that

6 ( +6 / -0 )

First year in Japan I trundled off to the beach in the summer to enjoy the sound of the waves and gleefully laughing children only to be met with J Pop at Super Volume. Asked a J-friend what he thought and his answer was “They play music at the beach? Really?”

11 ( +11 / -0 )


pronounced through the nose has to be the most disingenuous greeting. And the most annoying. It's constant nose it's as if a moments silence is a disturbing moment.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It seems Japanese people love this kinda noises in daily life. They love living in crowded city anyway because maybe close to good transportations. European/western people maybe try to live on quieter places far away from crowded city. Some rich people build/buy mansion/big house in very remote area with nice view. Very qiet but no neighbors there, very far away.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Which they'll instead replace with louder announcements the train is departing.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I really don't think this will make much difference. In fact, I think it's likely to make more people run into the train because they don't know when the doors will close. I use the Joban line regularly and it comes every 4 or 5 minutes during the morning peak hours with two alternating destinations. One only goes to Ueno and the other goes as far as Shinagawa. This means the alternating routes come less than ten minutes apart, but it doesn't stop these mullets running to catch the train in the dock. This problem gets much more dangerous at hub stations where a few lines join. People are always pushing and shoving to get off the trains to run to their change without knowing when the next train comes. It's pathetically annoying. They should just make running illegal in all train stations with hefty fines for idiots that abuse the law. That would make people get out of bed ten minutes earlier so they don't have to run to the train.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Fitting razor-sharp blades to the edges of train doors would prevent passengers from rushing into the train. For that matter, it might prevent train jumpers, too.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

It seems to me that such loud chime has nothing to do with making action of dangerous dashes. A few idiots (not many) do such really dangerous dashes instinctively, but most passengers will not, as far as I see. One car has 50-100 passengers? and only 2, 3 or 4  idiots dash. Even if no departure chimes, a few idiots would do it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

LOL!! Not too many years ago, I remember the effort by many stations to distinguish themselves by unique chimes and station name announcements....

I think there are even some music composers that do this as a career!!!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I like traveling by train/ MRT in Hong Kong and Singapore. No announcements, no chimes, no message to watch out for trains or anything; just quiet platform, simple digital signage, with only people talking. And people still manage to catch the right train, get to their destination, not fall over... a lesson to be learned?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Noise pollution is a serious problem in Japanese cities that seems to go largely unnoticed - I guess most people are either inured to the level of noise or wearing headphones.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Do the hustleToday  08:11 am JST

Yep! What kind of an idiot runs to catch a train that comes every three minutes?

You'd be surprised.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In my subway change it is harder to tell which chime is which, but you can tell if a train has just arrived because of the small stream of people coming up the stairway. Cue larger stream of people rushing down the stairway to catch the connection (which comes every 5 minutes...)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

could you imagine working at Bic Camera and hearing the jingle "♪ Bic Bic Bic Ca me ra ♪ !!!!" every five seconds on top of the bings bangs pings pongs they have cranked up all the way?

I am surprised they do not go mentally ill from that all day long...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I can bet It won't be effective. Daily travellers will not like it and may oppose this move.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Daily travellers

Edit : daily commuters

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Could never understand some folks who do the mad dash on the Yamanote Line. There's like a train every 2 to 3 minutes. Let it go.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good. Get rid of the chimes at all stations, it's just more unnecessary noise. Japan really is a noisy country.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not only train stations, but ski resorts are loud as hell here, too. Instead of enjoying the quiet beautiful scenery while riding a lift chair above the tree tops, I have to listen to J-pop at full volume.

I've noticed it at some beaches as well when i'm lounging having a nice snooze and they start making announcements and playing J pop over the PA system! It's really annoying, especially on beautiful, otherwise peaceful beaches like Yumigahama in Izu.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If I’m going somewhere I’ll walk one station (even in the summer) to avoid the noise and crush of people.

And I’m partially deaf in one ear from the cachopany that I’ve endured over the years....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

People do the mad dash to reach the train despite there coming one 3min later because they have a connecting train further down the line with a two minute window, if they miss that, the next one isn't an Express and their work commute becomes 20min longer.

Sure, get up earlier you say, but people aren't paid for commuting time and most people prefer to spend as little time riding the tincans as possible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From the Japan Intercultural Counseling website, an interesting explanation. "When asked why he thought they made all those announcements, and he replied “It’s part of the Confucian mindset that things are run by smart people, and everyone else is stupid and thus has to be exhorted to behave properly by mottoes and oral reminders.”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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