A Hayabusa shinkansen Photo: Wikipedia
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Bullet train runs with door open at 280 kph

33 Comments
By Behrouz Mehri

A bullet train hurtling along at 280 kilometers per hour ran for 40 seconds with one of its doors completely open on Wednesday, its operator said.

The accident, due to human error, was a rare mishap for the shinkansen which has a world-famous safety and punctuality record.

The Tokyo-bound Hayabusa No. 46 train screeched to an emergency stop in a tunnel at 10:15 a.m. after leaving Sendai station in Miyagi Prefecture at 10:07 a.m., when the conductor saw a warning light that the door of the ninth carriage was open, East Japan Railway said.

"The conductor checked the carriage and found that the door was completely open," a company spokesman told AFP.

"Some 340 passengers were on board but no one was injured," he said, adding that the train resumed its journey after a check-up. "The incident occurred after a janitor mistakenly left the carriage door unlocked so that they could manually open and close."

"We sincerely apologize for the incident," he said, adding that the company will take steps to prevent it happening again. The force of the wind is believed to have opened the door, JR said.

Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks, hailed for their punctuality and safety measures, including the emergency stop system, which can automatically slow trains down before a major earthquake strikes.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
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No big deal. I'm sure somebody walking by would've closed it.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

shinkansen which has a world-famous safety and punctuality record

This door incident will be recorded for sure.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

a janitor mistakenly left the carriage door unlocked so that they could manually open and close,"

Lay the blame at the bottom of the ladder. Poop really does run downhill.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

Relax, mistakes do happen, we're all human after all. As long as no one got injured and the open door was quickly discovered and closed, it's all good. No need to go all "oooh world famous my butt" or "[insert other Asian nation] has a better network".

14 ( +20 / -6 )

The next time you are in a railway station, pay attention to the trains. All have amber lights near the doors which indicate to the driver/conductor whether the doors are open or not. Once the lights are extinguished, the doors are closed and the trains are free to depart.

Given the length of Shinkansen trains, I would expect them to have in-cab alerts to inform the driver of the status of the doors. Were these alerts disabled in some way?

In short, this incident should have never been allowed to happen.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Lay the blame at the bottom of the ladder. Poop really does run downhill.

If the janitor left it open, who else would you blame?

8 ( +13 / -5 )

If a warning light was showing, how come the train left the station at all.

Also, if the train had just left the station, I hardly think it was hurtling along at 280km/h.

And stopping in a tunnel is never a good idea.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Now THAT’S what I’d call “Wild Speed!”

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

That would have been an amazing ride. Feeling the force of that wind at that speed would have been a dream come true. Mistakes happen and luckily no one was hurt or worst. While he noticed the emergency light was on, doesn't the light continuously stay on to show that one door isn't closed? While the Janitor may have left the door open, the driver failed to properly perform the system checks until the train was already in motion.

hailed for their punctuality and safety measures

The bullet train is the only instance where this applies with Japanese trains.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sounds like there isn’t a “QC” person to check behind the janitor and this is exactly why one is needed.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Like the poster above mentioned, I don't understand how it could've already been going 280 km/hr. if it had just left the station.

The one scary thing about this whole thing is if I someone or a kid had gone to the bathroom, they could've easily been sucked out.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Unfortunatelly Disillusioned is right in this case. I know you guys don't have Shinkansen back home but this kind of technology has emergency lights so conductor should have seen it before train departed from the station.

Probably they were under time pressure so Janitor was rushing to clean it and forgot to release door lock. Then Conductor was either inexperienced so he didn't know why this emergency light is on or he just assumed it's small malfunction and being under time pressure - as We, Japanese are very punctual - he decided to go.

All in all it's obviously conductor to blame for this accident as he is in charge of the train not some janitor who cleans it for 985¥/H

6 ( +10 / -4 )

extanker - If the janitor left it open, who else would you blame?

Who else? Any one of the myriad of people above the janitor who are supposed to be in charge of safety and spot inspections.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

SatedayaToday  08:56 am JST

Unfortunatelly Disillusioned is right in this case..... ..... Probably they were under time pressure so Janitor was rushing to clean it and forgot to release door lock. Then Conductor was either inexperienced so he didn't know why this emergency light is on or he just assumed it's small malfunction and being under time pressure

You don't know the real story either so how can you be so sure either way? It's your word against his and you both weren't there. My money is on both of you not having all the information so you have no idea actually what happened leading up to the incident.

To indirectly draw a conclusion and say "surely some oyaji blamed the janitor but it was all Japan Inc's fault!" is par of the course from some posters here, though.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

A lot of you seem to have read a different article. I understand this as saying the door was closed but unlocked when the train left the station. The wind then nudged the door open resulting in the warning light and the train stopping.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

 was a rare mishap for the shinkansen which has a world-famous safety and punctuality record.

Please come on, stop with the sugar coating. It almost seems that this kind of sentence is forced to be included in any incident-related news concerning the Shinkansen

 I know you guys don't have Shinkansen back home 

Well I have....

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

If the janitor left it open, who else would you blame?

Surely there are safety lights or similar in with the driver & as others have said the conductors.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

At least no one hurt.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Mission Impossible!!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You'd think there would be a fail-safe mechanism built in to ensure something like this wouldn't happen

7 ( +7 / -0 )

A lot of you seem to have read a different article. I understand this as saying the door was closed but unlocked when the train left the station. The wind then nudged the door open resulting in the warning light and the train stopping.

This is exactly what happened.

The door had been unlocked (via the "door cock" above the door) by the cleaner. He never actually opened the door in question, so he forgot to lock again it before leaving.

Once the train got up to speed, the vibrations eventually caused the door to open, and that is when the alert appeared.

E7 series trains can detect when a "door cock" has not been closed prior to departure; however, this was an E5 series train, and it was not equipped with such a system. I guess they will be retrofitted following this incident.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Like the poster above mentioned, I don't understand how it could've already been going 280 km/hr. if it had just left the station.

I guess reading comprehension class is in session again.

The Tokyo-bound Hayabusa No. 46 train screeched to an emergency stop in a tunnel at 10:15 a.m. after leaving Sendai station in Miyagi Prefecture at 10:07 a.m.

The train had been running for 9 minutes already before stopping. That's why it was going 280km/hr already.

A bullet train hurtling along at 280 kilometers per hour ran for 40 seconds with one of its doors completely open on Wednesday, its operator said.

In other words, the train took 40 seconds to stop once the door being open was detected.

This is exactly what happened.

The door had been unlocked (via the "door cock" above the door) by the cleaner. He never actually opened the door in question, so he forgot to lock again it before leaving.

Once the train got up to speed, the vibrations eventually caused the door to open, and that is when the alert appeared.

E7 series trains can detect when a "door cock" has not been closed prior to departure; however, this was an E5 series train, and it was not equipped with such a system. I guess they will be retrofitted following this incident.

Thank you for actually explaining it. You beat me to it.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

When shinkansen pass through tunnels, they undergo atmospheric changes similar to an airplane. That's why they're pressurized. This was a serious incident.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You'd think there would be some sort of failsafe mechanism to prevent the train running with an open door...

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Bad reporting? It opened at 280kph, and took 40 seconds of braking to come to a halt?

I'm pretty sure if they could strap and helmet people in there'd be a market for train nerds travelling at that speed in the open air.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unbelievable that there is no override to keep the train from moving with a door open in the first place. Does that mean for the past 50-odd years, no one had ever made this error? Pretty phenomenal but scary.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

While on the shinkansen, I've often wondered what zipping along with open windows would be like.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sure, multiple people should have caught the mistake, but the fault still lies with the janitor that left the door open. It was the janitor's mistake, no one else's.

If he hadn't left it open, none of the other people who should have caught it matter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While on the shinkansen, I've often wondered what zipping along with open windows would be like.

Wouldn't it be like getting your head ripped off?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just to clarify, they said that the janitor left the door unlocked. He didn't leave it open. This allowed it to be opened manually while the train was moving. So, someone, probably a passenger, would have had to have opened it while it was moving. Or, it possibly may have become jostled open, if it was unlocked.

In any case, the train didn't appear to have left the station with an open door. At least, not according to what is presented in the article.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Everyone here made good, contributing comments about the door on the train. And you are all correct.

However, allow me to point out that there is obviously something the carrier has not mentioned. The sensor that is supposed to keep the electronic breaks engaged when doors are unlocked was not working. At least for that particular car.

It is obviously something that a major train carrier does not want to mention.

On board sensor on his dash board clearly showed the door open but did not indicate it being unlocked which is how the train moved. But without the sensor indicating an unlocked door, the breaking mechanism would disengage as normally and nothing would prevent the train from moving.

It's mistakes like this that costs lives.

I should hope they be more forthcoming in future press releases.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

On most trains, doors are controlled by the conductor or driver and there are some buttons that open and close the doors. However, the doors can also be locked/unlocked so that the buttons right next to the doors themselves can operate the doors as well. On some trains, however, the doors can be locked/unlocked individually at the door, and this decouples it from the rest of the system, so when someone closes all doors, that door will remain open. I'm not sure specifically how these doors operate, but likely it was stuck open until staff could go to the door and lock it.

Many trains are also incapable of being driven if any door is detected open, however as the door was manually unlocked, this may have disabled the safety check for that specific door. It is disappointing that this happened, but I am glad there were no injuries and the safety can continue to be improved in the future. It is already impressive that these trains have started and stopped millions of times, yet it took until now to have a problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The sensor that is supposed to keep the electronic breaks engaged when doors are unlocked was not working."

Electronic coffee breaks?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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