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Station official allowed subway train to leave despite woman being on tracks

37 Comments

Tokyo Metro Co, which operates eight subway lines in Tokyo, said Tuesday that a newly-hired station employee has been removed from duty after he allowed a train to leave Roppongi Station even though a woman had fallen onto the tracks.

According to a Fuji TV report, the female passenger fell into a 25-cm gap between the train and the platform at around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday at Roppongi Station on the Hibiya line. The victim's friend called to the station official to alert him that she had fallen, but the official in question reportedly misunderstood the call and thought that someone's personal belongings had fallen onto the track. He then authorized the train to leave the station.

Tokyo Metro said the woman was not knocked unconscious during her fall, and was therefore able to make her own way to an emergency shelter area beneath the platform and wait for the train to leave the station. Police say the woman was not injured during the incident.

Fuji TV said the official in question started the job in April this year. A Tokyo Metro spokesman was quoted as saying that he failed properly to confirm that conditions for departure were safe before allowing the train to leave the station. Tokyo Metro said it is considering how best to discipline him.

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37 Comments
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Baka!!!! What a complete idiot!!

6 ( +14 / -8 )

An idiot indeed!

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Yep, immature new grad... I guess 22 years old with 2 months of experience?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What I heard on the news was that he looked down the gap and sure enough, there was something small - a purse or something - I wasn't really paying attention, and he thought, OK, I'll get that with the tongs after the train is gone. Why didn't the woman say something? I wonder if the guy with her was unable to speak much Japanese.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

"Tokyo Metro said it is considering how best to discipline him."

Surely putting a me ever of the public in danger of death is gross misconduct"?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Meant, member of the public.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Don't they have an emergency button on the platform that automatically stops the train's power supply?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

He misunderstood!??!!?? In Japanese ???

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@g vares. If there was a button to stop the trains power supply, I can only imagine misfits causing problem and disturbing the train station for kicks.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The morning news said that the woman panicked and screamed something like "Ochita", the guy understood "Otoshita", saw the purse and told her he will pick it up after the train leaves, and didn't bother to check more. Very lucky that nothing serious happened

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Emergency buttons don't cut the power supply, they signal the conductor to stop immediately. There probably wasn't enough time to run and push it in this case, or maybe no one (except the fallen woman and her friend) understood what had happened until the train pulled away and a woman was down there.

It was probably just an honest mistake; rather than just punish the young employee, they should take a good long look at why it happened, and reconfirm safety procedures with all their station employees to make sure it doesn't happen again.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

but the official in question reportedly misunderstood the call

Friend: My friend! She fell on the tracks!

Station guy: Eh? Nani?

Friend: She Fell on the tracks!

SG: Eh? Nande? Dare?

F: Stop the train!

SG: Eh? Nani?

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

"the woman was not knocked unconscious by the fall and therefore was able to make her own way to an emergency shelter area beneath the platform and wait for the train to leave the station... the woman was not injured"

So it was safe for the train to leave the station! Passengers were not inconvenienced! Give that employee a nice bonus!

Seriously though,

"a woman had fallen onto the tracks"

I hear in another decade or so, all station platforms will have barriers preventing people from falling onto the tracks.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Just doing his job. Why should he be expected to expect the unexpected? Trains have to be on time.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Tokyo Metro said it is considering how best to discipline him.

Um, how about fire him? I'm all for going easy on the new guy but when you almost kill someone, you gotta go!

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

It may be worth asking why there is a 25cm gap, 10 inches, between the train and the platform. I have used that station many times and don't remember such a wide gap.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What?!?!? You mean to tell me he didn't do the pointy-finger-swish-doo-wop dance????

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

The story is correct. The gap is 25 cms.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It may be worth asking why there is a 25cm gap, 10 inches, between the train and the platform. I have used that station many times and don't remember such a wide gap.

The station is on a pretty sharp curve, as I'm sure you know. Depending on the type of train (there are more than a few running on the Hibiya line), there can be huge gaps between the platform and the doors in the center of the car.

Some Subway stations in NYC have moving ledges that extend from the edge of the platform after the train arrives to close the gap. It's a pretty low-tech system, been around for decades...I've always been puzzled why there's nothing like that in Roppongi and other stations found on a curve.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Obviously they need a poster to make sure station staff 1)listen to passengers urgent needs. 2) make sure to check for fallen passengers 3) be aware of what's happening around them.

Yes. A poster would help.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

After hearing this on the news, i remember having fallen into the gap between the train and the platform in Roppongi about 15 years ago. I was quite heavily intoxicated, and luckily i landed with my bum on the platform, not all the way down

Was a big scene when it happened though, delayed the train and all (felt quite embarrassed at the time, and just quickly got back up and into the train)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having seen the lack of communication from the "young generation" in shops, convenience stores and other places where they are barely speak, it is no surprise that he did not understand the original oral message. Perhaps the friend should have sent a text message to his mobile?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why did he not understood what the woman`s companion is saying? Are they non-Japanese?

There are many stations with wide gaps between trains and platforms, mostly due to new train models on old station platforms. The driver also keeps reminding passengers to be mindful of these gaps upon arriving at the stations. Very dangerous specially for small children. I`ve seen one girl who almost fell completely, good thing the mother was holding her hand.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

what a moron! So so stupid, he could have killed someone!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

It seems that you never give something the all "clear" or "green light" until you know exactly what the situation is. Careless people can kill. Luckily for the victim involved in this accident she did not loose her life.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm surprised at the people here calling the station employee a moron. The friend failed to communicate the situation. Even if she didn't know the proper Japanese words (and I haven't heard any mention of anyone involved NOT being Japanese) she could've gestured. My guess is that she went deer in the headlights / frozen with panic.

I wouldn't call her a moron for that, though, just kinda unfortunate.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The same thing happened to a friend of mine at Yoyogi Station: he fell into the large gap that exists on the platform there where the platform curves. The train left and he fortunately survived so he made a major complaint. Someone from the station brought around a box of cookies the next day and apologized. Case closed. He was dumbfounded.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

geez scary glad she didnt get hurt close call

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Quite surprised that the guard and the friend seem to be taking all the flak here. Nobody seems to have questioned why she managed to fall down the gap. Too engrossed in her iphone? Talking to her friend? Pissed? We don't really have enough detail to criticise the friend, but there are at least two parties at fault here.It's your own responsibility to look where you're going.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Poor guy. Most likely he'll get a well-deserved pay cut :(

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with the poster who said that instead of punishing the station master, they should be looking at how the event happened. Also they should consider it a good training lesson, maybe they can think of ways to improve what went well as what went wrong. But the best thing is that the woman wasn't hurt. The woman and friend should give every detail of what happened from start to finish. All is well if everyone learns something and nobody was hurt.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't think firing is appropriate in this case. The experience is scary enough that I think this particular employee is never going to make that mistake again. Almost causing someone's death tends to stick with you. I won't go into details but I happen to know this first-hand. If anything, he may now be the SAFEST employee on their rolls.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's hard to believe that any station would have a 10" gap between the train and the platform. They'd be kids and drunks falling through it daily! My foot slipped through a 5" gap in Disneyland once, twisting my ankle. If this woman had fallen while the train was stationery, why wasn't everyone shouting? Bit too vague for me!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am glad the woman is okay. I feel bad for the employee. Everyone makes mistakes at their job its too bad his was such a massive one.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

According to the TV news, the friend said only "Ochita!", which indeed may be misunderstood as being about an object. He probably never dreamed that an adult could fall into such a narrow gap.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sounds like a calamity of errors with a happy ending for once. I agree that 25cm is far too wide a gap. I wonder how that happened?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

An increase of downwardly staring people crashing into each other — and occasionally falling off train platforms — while texting has led the largest railway in the Tokyo region to ask commuters to put away their smartphones while walking.

I would guess the women was looking at her phone, really she did not see a 25-cm gap?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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