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Tokyo Metro under fire after baby stroller gets caught in train doors

40 Comments

Tokyo Metro has apologized after the conductor on one of its subway trains failed to press the emergency brake button despite being aware of an emergency. An empty baby stroller got wedged in the train doors, and was dragged 100 meters along the platform before being smashed to pieces by a metal barrier.

The incident occurred at around 3 p.m. Monday at Kudanshita station on the Hanzomon line in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. On Tuesday, media and transport ministry officials criticized Tokyo Metro for not training the conductor properly in emergency procedures.

Transport minister Keiichi Ishii met with the president of Tokyo Metro and instructed the subway operator to provide an action plan for the prevention of similar incidents in the future, Sankei Shimbun reported.

“It could have led to a very serious accident. What happened is extremely regrettable,” Ishii said after the meeting.

According to Tokyo Metro, a mother holding her baby and accompanied by another of her children entered the train first, followed by the father who was pushing the empty stroller. As he attempted to get on the train, the doors closed and one of the wheels got stuck, leaving him on the platform.

As the train started moving, inside the car, the mother and another passenger pushed the emergency alarm button at least three times, but the conductor did not alert the driver to apply the emergency brake. After about 100 meters, the stroller smashed into the railing at the end of the platform. No one was injured in the incident.

Tokyo Metro said that the train's sensors are designed to sound the alert when an object 1.5 cms or more gets stuck in the door, Sankei reported. This automatically stops the train from moving. However, the shaft of the stroller that got stuck in the door was less than 1.5 cms wide.

Meanwhile, a followup investigation has revealed that the conductor, a woman in her 20s, changed shifts with another conductor at the next station and returned to the Tokyo Metro office in Shibuya. Despite knowing that there had been some kind of an emergency, she was apparently unaware of the stroller incident until being told about it by her supervisor upon her return to the office.

Tokyo Metro said the conductor was hired last year and had been working as a conductor by herself for just 19 days. She has reportedly said that she became very nervous and failed to press the emergency stop button and alert the driver, despite knowing she should have. She also admitted not looking up and down the platform before giving the OK for the train to depart, which is customary procedure for conductors.

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40 Comments
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thank god no one was hurt. why in the world didn't the conductor stop the train? why would she panic upon hearing the alarm? baffling.

btw, the penultimate paragraph is a bit confusing to read. not sure if "meanwhile" and "despite" are needed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thank goodness the stroller was empty. It could've been tragic.

Tokyo Metro said the conductor was hired last year and had been working as a conductor by herself for just 19 days. She has reportedly said that she became very nervous and failed to press the emergency stop button and alert the driver, despite knowing she should have.

In addition to proper training which requires having a capable mentor to guide the trainee, perhaps they should also have mental evaluations periodically. In critical positions where lives could be put at risk by panicking or inability to make decisions on the clutch, there's certainly no room for nervousness or indecisiveness. She should be suspended and re-trained again before allowed to return to work.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Young, new on the job. Too scared to press emergency button, inexperienced etc. They should revamp their training methods before sending people to work. This could have easily been a very, very serious and tragic accident.

Thank God no one was hurt, and the stroller empty.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is pretty strange. There are usually two or three staff on the platforms watching every movement with video cameras. Obviously, somebody was not doing their job. However, gladly the stroller was empty and it didn't clean anybody up as it was being dragged along the platform.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

pretty much what Ive feared about all these shows of safety by train conductors. Some of them are simply going through the motions, and will freeze in fear should anything go wrong.

Then again, they're probably told by JR that pressing an emergency button is a fireable offence if its deemed "unnecessary"

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Crazy, people just following the motions and not actually doing their job. I put this down to training

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I'm not excusing the inaction of the conductor but, why was the father still trying to get onto the train after the door closing signal had sounded? Was he trying to jam the door with the stroller so that it would open again and let him on? It seems from the report and what I've seen on TV that only one front wheel and some of the (less than 1.5cms dia.) leg went through the door whilst most of the stroller stayed behind and was caught and dragged.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

she was apparently unaware of the stroller incident until being told about it by her supervisor upon her return to the office.

That's not going to look good on her resume

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sue the father for trying to ram the door open with a stroller when its clearly posted not to do that. The conductor deserves bonus for teaching an idiot a lesson he wont forget.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This "accident" was caused by the parents. The train company should sue them for the damages. Why was he trying to board a train which was departing ?!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In fairness to the conductor, it sounds like the whole incident might have only taken 4-5 seconds to unfold if the train only went 100 metres, not sure if that would have been enough time for her to have done anything to stop it from happening even if she had been aware of what was going on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The stroller wheel stuck and it couldn't go forward. The father was the last to board, and he couldn't get it to go forward,and the doors closed as he was trying to pull back on it.

People on the platform pushed the emergency buttons, which sets off an ungodly noise and flashing lights. It also lights a numbered light in the conductor's compartment, so they know which car has the emergency. First of all, she did not do the obligatory visual check of the platform, then she saw the lit emergency light lit indicating one car's doors were not properly closed and she told the driver to leave anyway. 'I thought we might as well go to the next station'...huh?? Then at the next station she just gets off the train and goes off duty.

She sounds totally brainless, and those of you blaming the father are way off base.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Harry_GattoAPR. 06, 2016 - 04:11PM JST

why was the father still trying to get onto the train after the door closing signal had sounded?

Because his baby was on the train.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Despite knowing that there had been some kind of an emergency

I hope she is fired.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Then again, they're probably told by JR that pressing an emergency button is a fireable offence if its deemed "unnecessary"

It's not a JR line.

JR line, Metro, whatever. They're all in the same boat

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

As the train started moving, inside the car, the mother and another passenger pushed the emergency alarm button at least three times, but the conductor did not alert the driver to apply the emergency brake.

Pressing the button should activate the brakes automatically. Driver/conductor intervention should be unnecessary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Then again, they're probably told by JR that pressing an emergency button is a fireable offence if its deemed "unnecessary"

People on the platform pushed the emergency buttons on the pillars near the platform, in more than one location. That activates the alarms. She would not have been on the hook for pressing a button unnecessarily, she didn't push it. I saw video from a cell phone on TV today, there were half a dozen flashing lights, and a loud siren going on the platform...the light in the conductor's car for that train car was lit as well. All she had to do was delay the train. She said when interviewed 'I thought I'd just take care of it at the next station' which just defies all logic. If by any chance they are punished for false alarms, how does ignoring the emergency lights and the buttons pushed by passengers help her any?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I imagine that the pressure to run the train on time was a major factor here. During my first trip to Tokyo I helped rescue a toddler who had fallen through the gap between the platform and a Hiyabusa Shinkansen. During that incident the train staff were visibly more concerned about keeping to schedule than the wellbeing of the child and mother.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Agree with the above.

The employees fear for their jobs any time they cause a delay.

Remember the Hanshin train crash about a decade ago?

Similar situation. Young driver fears punishment or loss of his job, ends up overspeeding and killing dozens of people.

I think it's hard for anyone to judge the woman involved unless they saw what actually happened - the facts as we're seeing them are what Tokyo Metro has released, and the worker was probably pressured into making a statement that was convenient for Tokyo Metro.

They should seriously look into their training procedures. Most of the conductors with all of their hand signals and call outs are just spewing nonsense, none of it actually has meaning to most of them - watch some of them walk to the wrong spot and try to press a non existent chime button every March / April when the new workers come along. Their minds are on following the procedures, not about using the procedures as a safety mechanism. Until punitive training and punitive "corrective measures" are abolished at JR and Metro these incidents will continue to happen every so often.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's now clear that

She didn't visually check the platform as required

Saw the emergency lamp come on, and disregarded the company manual and training, and gave the order to move on.

We're deviating into rather ridiculous territory when we start talking about forced statements. She walked off the train like nothing happened, went in to punch out, and was told of the incident on her own train so it's pretty clear she had no idea what was happening. She was negligent.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Thank goodness the stroller was empty. It could've been tragic.

My first thought exactly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@himajin

People on the platform pushed the emergency buttons, which sets off an ungodly noise and flashing lights. It also lights a numbered light in the conductor's compartment, so they know which car has the emergency

The emergency buttons on the platform cannot possibly indicate to the conductor which car has a problem.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The emergency buttons on the platform cannot possibly indicate to the conductor which car has a problem.

Sorry! I should have written that the light for that car also lit....there were two sets of alarms employed, the platform lights/alarm and the car alarm.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just a change/improvement of procedures is needed but nope they will just do some stuff for show and then back to normal. Last week at the top of my road a woman on a crossing nearly got hit buy a car running a red light. Since there has been a officer chasing after and giving tickets to those who do the same. How about a bit of consistency and logical moves forward. Such a process could be implemented all over my beloved foster home and all for the better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What happened is extremely regrettable,” Ishii said after the meeting.

Ishi: bow bow sniff sniff (use your sleeve) Keep head down

Ok. Done, back to work

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I'm not excusing the inaction of the conductor but, why was the father still trying to get onto the train after the door closing signal had sounded?

I'd wanna get on the train too if my family got on already. And I would expect the conductor to see me and my big stroller and keep the doors open. Why would the door close when his family got on but he was still trying to get on with the stroller? Its basically unheard of, sound or no sound. But we know the answer: she wasn't looking at all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't see this as being an institutional issue, or a procedural issue. They have pretty clear guidelines about how things are supposed to be done, and two of those are checking to ensure the way is clear before pulling out of the station, and stopping when the emergency button is pushed. This woman for whatever reason didn't do either of those. So in this case it comes down to human/operator error, rather than institutional or procedural error.

I have to agree that this woman shouldn't be allowed to be part of the crew driving a train anymore though. It's not worth the risk.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I seem to recall a very similar incident about ten years ago (Metro?), except in that case there was a baby in the stroller. Fortunately the quick-witted mother, with the help of other passengers, managed to get the baby out in time. Around the same time, IIRC, there was a nearly identical incident in South Korea, which is why it sticks in my mind.

On Tuesday, media and transport ministry officials criticized Tokyo Metro for not training the conductor properly in emergency procedures.

Surely the point is that she had not been trained properly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Interesting that the Conductor would need to inform the Driver of the emergency Alarm. One would think the Alarm would automatically go off in both the Conductor and Driver compartment's simultaneously.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I thought the alarm actually automatically stopped the train.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who is the genius who decided on that "emergency button" that rings an alarm to the conductor who then needs to inform the driver who eventually needs to decide what to do without knowing the purpose btw ? The brake should automatically stops the train as soon as possible if the emergency button is pushed. If for any reason the driver or the conductor are unable to transmit or receive then you have a ticket for a disaster.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why would the door close when his family got on but he was still trying to get on with the stroller? Its basically unheard of, sound or no sound.

Probably because the mother just made it through the doors after the signal sounded and the father tried to stop the door closing by using the stroller but failed. However, like everyone else, I wasn't there to see what happened so am speculating. As for it being unheard of, it happens all the time because people are trying to get through the doors as they are closing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't fire the woman. Dock her pay, yes. But it's the training that should be fixed

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

DesignerAPR. 06, 2016 - 08:18PM JST

I imagine that the pressure to run the train on time was a major factor here. During my first trip to Tokyo I helped rescue a toddler who had fallen through the gap between the platform and a Hiyabusa Shinkansen.

April fool was 5 days ago, pal.

Anyone who uses trains for office everyday in Tokyo knows trains delay very often due to the emergency call.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't fire the woman. Dock her pay, yes. But it's the training that should be fixed

She had one job to do. You don't give second chances to people who screw up a fundamental duty like safety.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The conductor's training was probably more focused on not making the train being late and keeping to the time table.

I thought the conductor has access to the brakes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i'm wondering why didn't the train driver hear or see all these whistles and flashing lights? or more importantly, why isn't the system built to alert both the conductor and the train driver? it seems they both should be responsible.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

i'm wondering why didn't the train driver hear or see all these whistles and flashing lights? or more importantly, why isn't the system built to alert both the conductor and the train driver? it seems they both should be responsible.

I was wondering about that too. Its hard to imagine he didn't hear or see anything, even if he was focused on his job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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