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JR Hokkaido troubles- cause may be personnel related


bikkuri bahn

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I was away on holiday when media reports were made, but it seems fault is being placed with the personnel policy/ training of maintenance staff at JR Hokkaido with regards the spate of breakdowns/fires, mainly on diesel stock. I think it was either westfalen or Mark Newton who remarked that he thought that management policy w/ regards maintenance was the culprit, and that observation indeed appears precognizant.

 

The article I read states that JR Hokkaido is first of all faced with unique problems w/ regards its diesel stock- older models (1/2 the roster is over 20 yrs. old) that are required to run at high speeds over long distances (service speeds and distances on ltd. express services which elsewhere in Japan are entrusted to electric stock).  Also, winter conditions with expansion and contraction of metal surfaces and parts that imposes stress on them.

 

But the biggest issue may be personnel.  JR Hokkaido has relatively few experienced maintenance personnel in their 40's to 50's (about 1/5 of the total maintenance staff).  Therefore there is a deficit of knowhow.  Many maintenance tasks now need to be outsourced...Blame for this is placed on a reduction of hiring of personnel since the breakup of JNR and privatization.  Currently JR Hokkaido is relying on the advice of "big brother" JR East to reform its maintenance regime.

 

Nihon Keizai Shimbun article (Japanese):

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASDG0204F_S3A800C1CR8000/

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More fallout:

With the autumn timetable revision (starting in November), JR Hokkaido is permanently until further notice reducing the number of limited express services as well as lowering the service speeds. This is the first time this has been done since the formation of JR Hokkaido with the breakup of the Japanese National Railways (JNR).  It also only the second time such a measure has been undertaken post-war.

 

Super Oozora (Sapporo-Kushiro): elimination of 1 r/t, top speed reduced 20km/h to 110km/k, travel time increased 20 min.

 

Super Hokuto/Hokuto (Sapporo-Hakodate): elimination of 2 r/t, top speed reduced 10km/h to 120km/h, travel time increased 9 min.

 

Super Kamui (Sapporo-Asahikawa): elimination of 1 r/t, top speed reduced 10km/h to 120km/h

 

The airport rapid service for Shin-Chitose AP will also have its top speed reduced to 120km/h.

 

The primary aim of these slowdowns is to reduce wear on diesel engines on the DMU units.  Elimination of services is to allow more generous maintenance windows.

 

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20130904/k10014284191000.html

Edited by bikkuri bahn
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I've pretty much given up on reporting the foibles of JR Hokkaido- a new revelation seems to pop up daily, though perhaps some of that is a result of media hype.  I think I've said this before, but it's too bad that JR Hokkaido can't just go bankrupt, and undergo re-organization by an outside (i.e. Honshu-based) group. 

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I've pretty much given up on reporting the foibles of JR Hokkaido- a new revelation seems to pop up daily, though perhaps some of that is a result of media hype.  I think I've said this before, but it's too bad that JR Hokkaido can't just go bankrupt, and undergo re-organization by an outside (i.e. Honshu-based) group. 

What would this involve?  Have they got loss-making lines to cut that won't detract from the usefulness of the overall network?

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JR Hokkaido is actually a unsustainable condition from the beginning.  Every year they receive bunch of indirect fund from government to keep them alive.  So we can consider JR Hokkaido is just as same as JNR Hokkaido.  They are trying to make some revenue outside of rail operation like real estate or something, but still not enough to make their business healthy.  Small population, too many distance of rural railroads to maintain, severe weather condition, and all other circumstances are seems the worst in JR group.

Also labor union may be the other issue in them.  Some unions are actually well known for having relation with radical extremist group and it may causing lowering morale in workplace...

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Mudkip Orange

So what does a JR Hokkaido look like if you give it the Beeching treatment? I have to figure you retain a Sapporo-centric regional network (Asahikawa, Obihiro, Otaru, the 1067mm line to Hakodate), the Shinkansen... and what else? Does the bypass route to Iwamizawa stay open freight-only? Do you retain service to Nemuro?

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Extreme version: keep all the main lines and the Sapporo urban network intact, and axe the secondary routes- Kushiro-Nemuro, Kushiro-Abashiri, Fukagawa-Mashike, Hidaka Line, and the Tomakomai-Iwamizawa route (freight outside of the Sapporo-Honshu corridor route is minor and frankly replaceable with trucks in line with JR-F's "shrink the business" policy). Basically close any line that doesn't host ltd. express services- which are the ones outside of urban services (like the profitable airport rapids) which are capable of breaking even, if not earning a profit.   They can use that railbus contraption for communities that are willing to put up money for keeping their stretch of track open to the nearest main line.

Edited by bikkuri bahn
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Oh yeah, close the Hakodate Main Line "yamasen" (Otaru-Oshamambe), though I bet Niseko, Kutchan, and Yoichi will put up a big fight- at least until the shinkansen comes.

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First let's hope nothing will be closed, although it's inevitable that some will eventually. It just doesn't make much sense stopping at station in the middle of nowhere with only trees and plants around in kilometers as you can see sometimes.

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Once again, in an ideal world, going bankrupt the management can be replaced, and a court-appointed team put in place to fix things.  As it stands, the current management is still there, and competent firms like JR East have no interest in getting involved (naturally), other than providing advice, which doesn't cost much.

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Mudkip Orange
Oh yeah, close the Hakodate Main Line "yamasen" (Otaru-Oshamambe), though I bet Niseko, Kutchan, and Yoichi will put up a big fight- at least until the shinkansen comes.

 

Seems like it would be pretty obvious to operate this as a third sector line, with the tacit understanding that it will close up shop once the Shinkansen comes...

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JR Hokkaido gets rare reform order

 

JAN 25, 2014

In an unprecedented move, the transport ministry has issued a supervision order to Hokkaido Railway Co. under the law governing Japan Railways Group companies, in the wake of a track inspection falsification scandal.

 

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/25/business/jr-hokkaido-gets-rare-reform-order/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=jr-hokkaido-gets-rare-reform-order#.UuPpi4w8KSM

Edited by cteno4
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Interesting they made it public.  this isn't a regular occurance, but it does happen accross the globe.  but Governments aren't normal so public about dissing public transport companies, as the want the masses to have faith in the public transport system.

 

I am aware of other cases were periodic checks of bridges have been checked off, but no engineer actually visited the bridges cloer to home.  All in the line I guess of saving dollars.

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Really salutes Japan on this. Upmost respect. 

 

Here, the transport system is 'privatized' only recently, only that it is still under an arm of the government. Trains break down, government bodies fine them very hard, yes. But that's just left pocket to right pocket. The problem is never solved and the trains break down again. They pruchase maintenance trains but those were only for show and parked at the yard. 

 

And then they have the cheek to want to raise the fare prices. AGAIN.

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