Japan Today

Train driver dozes off between Yokohama and Kamata stations


A 29-year-old train driver apparently fell asleep while he was operating a train on Monday afternoon.

According to Keihin Electric Express Railway Co Ltd (Keikyu Corp), the male driver was operating a rapid-transit train that had left Misakiguchi Station bound for Sengakuji Station. At around, 3:15 p.m., a passenger in the front car noticed the driver sleeping while the train was between Yokohama and Keikyu Kamata stations at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour. The passenger contacted Keikyu Corp on his cell phone.

The driver woke up and the train arrived safely at Kamata Station without any trouble.

Keikyu Corp officials told a news conference later that they questioned the driver who admitted to dozing off for about 10 minutes after becoming drowsy twice.

The company said the driver had the day off on Sunday and that he hadn't been drinking, nor did he have any apparent health problems.

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the driver sleeping while the train was... at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour

Not nice for the passengers...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

This is extremely bad! This could very easily have resulted in a severe accident. If this 'dozer' was unfit for work he should have taken sick leave. This is the problem with this strict business culture in Japan. If you unfit for work you risk getting fired if you do not go, which in this case, has put the lives of possibly a thousand people at risk. I also have to wonder, what is the shift length of a train driver (dozer) in Japan? I know where I come from it is a maximum of four hours driving for a passenger train driver with a two hour break. Do these drivers work a full 8 hour shift with only a short lunch break? I remember the recent incident of the train driver taking a pee out of the door of his train because he didn't want to delay the train. The train system in Japan is fantastic, but it only takes one sleepy driver to change that very quickly.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Driving trains may get boring perhaps, who knows? Still this is real cause for concern.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Good on the concerned passenger for taking quick action in alerting the company. This way it is out and corrective measures will be implemented hopefully

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How long are the shifts, and do the drivers get enough rest?

had the day off on Sunday

leaves much to be asked

3 ( +3 / -0 )

He was asleep for 10 minutes??? Did the passenger who called Keikyu knock on the drivers compartment window or anything? I certainly would have done so before calling Keikyu if I was on a freewheeling train that's for sure.

8 ( +9 / -1 )


Welcome to Japan.

It is a rather tedious job, worse than long-distance truck driving, due to the set tracks.

However, those monitoring the tracks should have noticed the increased speed (presumably) and tried to contact the driver and/or conductor.

More than one person asleep at the switch in my book.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Oh come on...we're making a mole hill out of a mountain here. He was tired...happens to the best of us.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

This really makes a strong case in support of automating railways. I'd rather depend on a automated system than on some young guy who may have had a rough weekend.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Wow. These trains really can drive themselves.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

However, those monitoring the tracks should have noticed the increased speed (presumably) and tried to contact the driver and/or conductor.

Why presume there was an increased speed? Those trains regularly travel at that speed, some faster.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Keikyu Line uses Automatic Train Stop (ATS). That is a system that will stop trains if certain situations occur such as an unresponsive driver, or a train running past a signal (Signal Passed at Danger). It differs from Automatic Train Control in that there is no mechanism/system onboard to control the trains speed. A sleeping driver is not a good situation, but it is far from a runaway train. A few years ago a Shinkansen driver fell asleep on the job. The control systems brought the train to a stop at Nagoya Station.

But yeah, banging on the window is what I would have done.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Yes I agree with DaveAllTogether and there would be something in place such as a dead man brake to automatically stop a train if no response from the driver. This addresses to some extent snoozing, ill or passed out drivers. Most readers here would well know that snoozing at the wheel of a car is one of the biggest killers on our roads and is a common event and somewhat easy to do when fatigued.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wow. I've always fallen asleep in the afternoon in dull situations, like meetings. We should be glad that I never became a train driver.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In the States truck drivers and train engineers are required to maintain Department of Transportation logs of time operating the machine. More than 10 hours of operation without breaks can be heavily fined by authorities. Are there similar regulations in place here in Japan for operational safety?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

10 minutes? At 120 KM/hr, you could be in a different city in 10 minutes....don't they have safeguards that stop the train if the doesn't stop or slow down at certain points.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why didn't they smash the window in?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As far as I know the train does have a lever you must keep under tension or a button that needs pressing regularly or the locomotive's dead man's switch will halt the train. There's also a switch when passing light signals

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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