Nearly 7,000 passengers were trapped inside trains, such as those on the JR Kyoto Line, which were stranded due to heavy snow.

What happened then?

Interviews with passengers revealed future issues.

(JR Stuck and Passenger Interview Group)

was locked up

On the 24th of this month, the most intense cold weather hit the archipelago this winter.

As the snow continued to fall, a man living in Shiga Prefecture using the JR Kosei Line boarded a train that left Kyoto Station at around 7:20 pm.

However, soon after we started running, the train stopped on the tracks before it reached the neighboring Yamashina station.

The man was then trapped in the car for about seven and a half hours.

Around the same time, the train on the JR Kyoto Line, on which a female instructor in her twenties was riding, also stopped on the tracks.

The woman left Osaka station around 6:30 pm.

It was around 7:30pm before she arrived at Kyoto station.

A man on another train on the Kyoto line is also involved.

The train on which the man was riding left Osaka station after 7:00 pm and was headed for Kyoto.

However, at around 8:00 pm, when the train stopped at one station before Kyoto Station, it stopped working.


Even before getting on the train, some people felt that the train was different than usual.

Another 19-year-old male college student trapped on the Kosei Line.

When I arrived at Kyoto Station to board the train, the timetable had already been disrupted and many people had gathered, so admission was restricted.

In the end, a total of 15 trains were stuck around Kyoto Station, trapping about 7,000 people.

Snow was expected, so why?

The cause was a malfunction of the "points" for changing the train's course.

According to observations by the Japan Meteorological Agency, 7 centimeters of snow fell in one hour until 6:00 p.m. in Kyoto City, and 10 centimeters of snow fell in three hours until 8:00 p.m.

As a result, there were a total of 21 locations, including Yamashina Station and Kyoto Station, where snow fell between points and prevented switching.

Why was it not possible to prevent the train from getting stuck even though it was snow that had been a concern since the day before?

JR West explained at a press conference on the 25th that "the snow was more than expected."

At JR, if the expected snowfall exceeds 10 centimeters, we use a device that combs the points of the tracks, but the forecast for that day was 8 centimeters, so we did not prepare the device.

People with poor physical condition one after another

Once stopped, the train did not move easily, and passengers were trapped inside the car for a long time.

According to passengers, there were repeated announcements such as "There was a point failure" and "Please wait for a while" in the car, but there was little information about when the train would resume operation.

It is said that the passengers spent their time giving each other seats, but some of them remained standing for several hours.

According to a man who was on the JR Kosei Line train, after two or three hours had passed after being trapped, the number of people going to the toilet gradually increased, and people concentrated in the car with the toilet.

And the inside of the car became almost oxygen-deficient, and people complained of poor physical condition one after another.

On other trains as well, several hours after they were locked up, the emergency button was pressed repeatedly, and the conductor sometimes asked, ``Are there any doctors or nurses among the passengers?''

In addition, some vehicles were "triaged" by paramedics to check the condition of sick people.

According to the fire department along the JR Kyoto Line, a total of 16 people were transported by ambulance due to poor physical condition in this confinement.

Was it the right time to drop off the passengers?

There have been cases of passengers walking on the tracks after several hours on a train that stopped between stations.

It was around 2:30 in the morning when the man who was trapped in the JR Kosei Line finally got out.

Seven and a half hours had passed since he was locked up.

It took about an hour to reach Yamashina Station, the nearest station, after walking on the snow-covered tracks.

This man said, "I wonder if JR could have taken measures a little earlier."

A female instructor in her 20s who used the JR Kyoto Line also wondered, "Why couldn't I make the decision to get off the train when there were people who were not feeling well?"

On social media, an audio announcement from inside the train was also posted, saying, ``The conductor and driver thought it would be best to let the passengers off and evacuate on foot.

Couldn't they have decided to let the passengers off sooner?

At a press conference on the 25th, JR West revealed that it was prioritizing work to restore points.

On top of that, "It was dark at night, it was snowing, and the feet were bad, so I thought that if many customers walked, there was a risk of falling, so I hesitated to get off. I would like to verify the decision process. ' explains.

I got off the train, but...

After getting off the train, I could see the problem.

Due to the long train delays, many passengers had no means of transportation to return to their homes.

It is said that the man who arrived at Yamashina Station by walking on the railroad did not spend his time in the building, but in an underground passage prepared by the city.

This underground passage was a facility managed by Kyoto City.

Around 10:00 p.m., the Kyoto City Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Office learned from images posted on social media that many people were staying at the station.

We hurriedly dispatched staff to Yamashina Station.

Then, they contacted JR, opened the facilities near Yamashina Station managed by the city and the underground passageway that connects the station with the municipal subway, and distributed aluminum blankets for cold protection.

Another man in his 20s arrived at Kyoto Station on the JR Kyoto Line around 1:30 am the next day, when it was crowded with people.

However, commercial facilities and restaurants at the station were closed and the shutters were closed, so they had no choice but to spend time in a semi-outdoor space where the snow blew in.

The surrounding karaoke and manga cafes were also full, so this man rented a car nearby and greeted the morning while taking a break in it.

The man said, ``When I got off at Kyoto Station, there was no information about where to wait.

JR West will verify the response at that time in the future.

Three issues highlighted

From the testimonies of the passengers, three major issues were highlighted in this stalemate.

(1) Why was it not possible to prevent the occurrence of stranded people while snow was expected?

(2) Was the timing of dropping off the passengers appropriate?

(3) Was it not possible to prepare a place for passengers who had nowhere to go to wait?

These are challenges that we face not only during heavy snowfalls, but also during other disasters such as earthquakes.

What do experts think about these issues?

We asked Professor Hiroi Hiroi of the University of Tokyo, who specializes in urban disaster prevention, who is knowledgeable about planned railway suspensions.

Professor Hiroi points out that it is important to understand that it is extremely difficult to accurately predict snowfall amounts, and to consider in advance what to do in the event that the amount of snowfall exceeds predictions. increase.

Professor Hiroi

: JR made the decision not to prepare a snow melting device based on the snow forecast in advance. It is necessary to understand that it is highly likely that it will not be completely predictable in advance.

” It is important to think in advance how to respond when the situation exceeds."

He also emphasized that it is important to consider in advance how to respond in the event of a stranded situation.

“Considering the risk of an accident, I think the decision to let passengers off is a heavy decision for railway operators.

"And we also need to recognize once again that just because a railway company doesn't have a planned suspension doesn't necessarily mean it's safe.