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Sigh, yet another JR Hokkaido snafu

bikkuri bahn

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Some snippets from an Asahi article:

SAPPORO--Hokkaido Railway Co., long known for its poor safety record, said it found wider-than-standard gauges and other irregular rail conditions left unrectified at 97 locations, after one such case may have resulted in the derailment of a cargo train on Sept. 19.

According to the announcement on Sept. 22, 49 sites were on main lines and the remaining 48 on sidings.

In most irregular conditions on main lines, gauges were wider than the standard 1,067 millimeters, similar to one at the site where a cargo train derailed near Hakodate on Sept. 19.


According to company officials, trains will likely derail if gauges are 43 millimeters or more wider than the standard. In-house rules require repairs within 15 days if the gap reaches 14 millimeters on straight sections and 19 millimeters on curves.


The company said irregularities on main lines were found after it examined inspection records following a directive from the transport ministry.

Some were on the Hakodate Line’s heavy-traffic section between Nanae Station and Mori Station, where limited express trains make about 10 daily round trips.

In addition, nonstandard heights of rails were left unattended mainly on sidings, although they must also be repaired within 15 days under in-house rules.

Irregularities on main lines were left unrepaired for one to five months, and those at four locations on sidings for nearly a year. JR Hokkaido said all irregularities have been rectified.


Satoru Sone, a specially appointed professor of railway system engineering at Kogakuin University, said a structural problem lies behind the scandals at JR Hokkaido.

He said Japan Railway companies are suffering from a lack of employees in their 40s because the JNR refrained from new hiring shortly before it was privatized in 1987 and split into Japan Railway companies.

“JR Hokkaido has particularly little financial leeway, and it is difficult to make up for a shortage of workers when a problem occurs,” Sone said. He also said the absence of the particular age group of workers must have worsened the situation.

complete article:


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Well, now I know the cause of all the delays for my trip to and from Kushiro on Thursday. Sapporo Station was a mess. We had a few LD trains delayed for hours. I'm not surprised by this report though as I can atest that the ride from Ashikawa to Furano was really some of the roughest track I've ridden in thirty years.

Edited by Shashinka
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