• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post

    Yamagata Prefecture derailment not due to crew error

    Yesterday’s train derailment was very unfortunate, but unlike the disaster in Amagasaki in April, it doesn’t seem to indicate any problems with JR. Cars were swept off the tracks by strong wind as the train went over a bridge; four people were killed and over thirty injured. The driver was going within the speed limit:

    At the moment of the derailment, the train was estimated to be running at about 100 kph, well below the speed limit for that section, police said.

    JR East officials said a wind meter was positioned about 1 kilometer north of the disaster site.

    If the meter detects winds of 72 kph or faster, a warning is sent to an anti-disaster information system installed at JR East’s Niigata branch, which is in charge of the Uetsu Line. An alarm will also sound at the branch, but drivers are not required to reduce their speeds in these conditions.

    However, trains are obliged to slow down to 25 kph when wind speeds exceeding 90 kph are registered.

    Train operations are suspended in areas with winds reaching 108 kph, the officials said.

    But the wind meter near the accident site only recorded a maximum speed of 72 kph at 7:16 p.m., the officials said.

    For that reason, the driver of the Inaho No. 14 was allowed to operate at the maximum speed of 120 kph in that section, according to the officials.

    So it looks as if any human error that contributed was involved in the design of the bridge.

    3 Responses to “Yamagata Prefecture derailment not due to crew error”

    1. Gaijin Biker says:

      …or in the setting of the speed limits for strong wind conditions. The driver followed the rules, but maybe the rules were poorly designed.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, it’s hard to tell. From the reports I’ve seen, he was going 20 kph under the speed limit, and the wind speeds recorded at the nearest meter were below the speeds that would normally cause a caution to be issued from the dispatch center (or whatever it’s called). I guess we’ll find out.

    3. Gaijin Biker says:

      The Mainichi says you are right. The bridge embankment was shaped so that it channelled the wind, making it stronger than it otherwise would have been.

    Leave a Reply