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Akita Shinkansen Komachi derails in blizzard


bikkuri bahn

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bikkuri bahn

http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/asia/story/high-speed-bullet-train-derails-japan-media-20130302

 

*note: the line where the derailment occured is the stretch of 130km/h line w/grade crossings, not a "high speed" line.  The train was running at restricted speed of 20km/h due to the weather conditions. This the first derailment on the Akita Shinkansen since it was opened. Northern Japan is currently being hit with a winter storm holding typhoon strength winds- just a few minutes ago I was almost bowled over by a gust while trying to walk over icy sidewalks.

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Here's the best picture of the E3's snow plow that I could find: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E3Komachi.JPG .  Without the wind, this must be enough to keep track conditions satisfactory if this is the first derailment.  I kind of like the idea of a 20km/h ride on a shinkansen :) , but I wonder if that wasn't fast enough for the snow to be plowed, rather it just piled up as you can see in the picture, and ultimately caused a problem.  Well, either way, I hope they had some extra bentos available!

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A derailing Shinkansen is not something you see often at all. I don't specifically keep record of it, but the last time was during the March 2011 earthquake wasn't it?

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Apparently going slow 20kph when the driver heard bad noises and hit the emergency brakes. May have been on the dual gauge rail where ice could build up between the narrow gap between the two dual gauge rails and have a flange ride up on the ice compacted in there.

 

News report (in Japanese): http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20130302-OYT1T00727.htm?from=navr

Different report in English: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130302/high-speed-bullet-train-derails-japan-media

 

Jeff

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If this was caused by ice build up in the gap between the dual guage rails then this also has implications for the Hokkaido Shinkansen which will operate on dual gauge track  for a large part of the Shin-Aomori to Shin-Hakadote run apart from inside the Seikan Tunnel.

 

If this is a characterstic of dual gauge track in snow & ice then there will likely be examples of this in other parts of the World.

 

This will be an investigation to watch closely.

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The latest news in (in English) is that the incident occurred between Jinguji & Kariwano Stations on shared track.

 JTSB officers are on their way there.

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Oh dear one of my fav shinkansen Komachi derailed...

 

It show-cased the professionalism of the Japanese train operators. Really fortunate they were only travelling at 20km/h due to the heavy blizzard, and the experience of the train driver urged him to hit the emergency brakes when he felt something was wrong, and no one on board was hurt or alarmed. The driver should be given an award based on his good judgement. I wouldn't dare to think what will happen had the train derailed and carried on...   

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At 20kmh, not much would have happened - the train wouldn't have gotten very far at all. 

 

And with the best will in the world, any driver worth the name would have done the same thing.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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There is so much snow in the photos you can't even see the rails.....the way the Komanchi is positioned and all the snow around it, I wouldn't even know it derailed. Great engineer!

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The weather up north is pretty bad indeed. A week ago, trains were stuck for 6 hours in the heavy snow as well. As the weather in Kanto is reaching temperatures of 20˚ this week, the north still has to deal with extreme winter weather. Good luck up there!

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The weather in the north of Japan is so bad that even the Dutch television reported about it. Not mentioning the Shinkansen though.

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angusmclean

This pic from Telegraph.UK suggests by looking along the line of windows, that both bogies of the first car be off. Looks like wire strops being put under the front bogie.

 

Was going to insert pic here but I'm damned if I can figure out how to!!

 

Here's the link anyways

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/picturesoftheday/9907200/Pictures-of-the-day-4-March-2013.html?frame=2498934

 

Angus

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Angus, I don't think they're wire strops, they're hoses. The breakdown crew are placing hydraulic traversing jacks to lift the car - you can just make out one of the jacks under the left hand side of the cab, it's the blue cylindrical gadget. You can also see the control manifolds, one is just to the left of the shovels. The red plastic tub in front of the car is full of packing blocks. Jacking and packing - been there, done that! :)

 

snow-bullet-train_2498934k.jpg

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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angusmclean

Yes thanks, Mark.  Now that you point those items out it makes sense, having done this for many years, but on roadways, and with slightly smaller gear:))

 

Angus

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Cool picture thanks Mark!

 

Guess it's much easier if it's in n scale huh ~

 

Wonder how long was the line closed to retrieve the de-railed E3...

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Angus - besides the one your found of the derailment, there were other really great photos in your link, Thanks!

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Angus, I don't think they're wire strops, they're hoses. The breakdown crew are placing hydraulic traversing jacks to lift the car - you can just make out one of the jacks under the left hand side of the cab, it's the blue cylindrical gadget. You can also see the control manifolds, one is just to the left of the shovels. The red plastic tub in front of the car is full of packing blocks. Jacking and packing - been there, done that! :)

 

snow-bullet-train_2498934k.jpg

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

The thing that struck me instantly when I saw this photo was that the pantographs are up and the head and marker lights on indicate that the power is on. That would be a big no-no here. The video of taken earlier indicates the same thing, we are trained (I know this because I just had my 1 1/2 yearly in-service training last week. lol) that the first thing we do in a derailment is hit the emergency button to drop the pans and cut the power because you don't know what damage is done to the overhead or high voltage equipment on the train or what people working around the train might come in contact with. A train would never be moved away from the derailment site under its own power either but rather be towed back to the depot or workshops.

Edited by westfalen
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The excellent  picture from the Uk Telegraph posted by 'AngusMclean' tells a lot of stories.  We will have to wait and see what  JTSB report as the cause of the derailment. Was the adverse weather the sole cause, the principal cause, a part cause or unrelated?

 

The important thing will be that the incident will trigger JR East and other rail operators to review (and revise) their operating procedures in adverse weather events.  The changes in weather patterns in recent years including the frequency, intensity, and volitility of adverse weather events has been so significant that scientists have labeled it "Climate Change" .

 

It means that the context of rail operations is now different from 20 or 10 years ago. Rail Operators will have to develop new criteria and thresholds in deciding when to close a road because of known or anticipated adverse weather.  There is also the question of collecting more accurate data on track/road conditions in a more timely way.

 

The Akita-Morioka  shared gauge sector where the incident occurred  seems to have Shinkansen about once an hour and a local train hourly on the Saturday timetable. In adverse weather(snow & ice & wind) a lot can change on a road with that time between trains. (Perhaps there would be some freight in between on Saturday?) 

 

JR East will not want further incidents, given the public focus on this route with the introduction of the  eyecatching crimson E6.

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bikkuri bahn

re. power being left on- at least at the time of derailment- if you cut off all power, you leave passengers in the dark, with no heat in a blizzard, evacuation outside in a blizzard in a rural area will expose passengers and may result in death of weaker individuals (it happened in Hokkaido in tha case of a motorist on a highway)- I think the train crew made the right decision.

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