« Clothespin Chopsticks | Home | Inflatable surfboard »

October 27, 2004

130 mph Japanese bullet train derails during an earthquake: how is it no one was hurt?


Much less severe unanticipated events and much slower trains invariably result in many dead and injured passengers.

Yet every single one of the Japanese bullet train Toki No. 325's passengers simply exited the train last Saturday and walked a mile to the nearest station.

What happened that's so different from the usual litany of horror?

The ground began to shake as the train was traveling at its usual cruising speed of 130 mph.

Japan's train tracks have built-in anti-earthquake measures.

Sensors along the tracks immediately cut electricity to the trains as soon as the first tremor is detected, so that the trains smoothly come to a halt.

Ryohei Kakumoto, a transportation-industry analyst and former employee of the railway authority, said, "That only works when the epicenter of an earthquake is off somewhere in the distance."

"If the quake is right beneath the train, as was the case this time, the sensors can't slow the train in time to stop any damage."

So, in a sense, this was the earthquake equivalent - for the bullet train - of "the perfect storm."

And yet no one was hurt.

That's solely due to the alert driver, who slammed on the brakes at the first sign of trouble.

And yet the Japanese press focuses not on this miraculous escape, but rather is filled with front-page accounts of the failure of the supposedly invincible engineering of the bullet train.

It's a different way of looking at the world.

October 27, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 130 mph Japanese bullet train derails during an earthquake: how is it no one was hurt?:


what types of braking systems are on the 0 series bullet train

Posted by: Adam Hegarty | Feb 22, 2006 9:01:56 PM

I like to think that they have higher expectations. :o)

Posted by: angel | Oct 27, 2004 4:53:29 PM

Depending on how you look at it then they're either (unreasonably) critical or they have higher expectations. :-)

- ask

Posted by: Ask Bjørn Hansen | Oct 27, 2004 4:25:23 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.