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2011年9月19日 (月)

ホームドア 転落事故防止へ着実な整備を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 19, 2011)
Speed up installation of railway platform doors
ホームドア 転落事故防止へ着実な整備を(9月18日付・読売社説)

Little progress has been made in the installation of platform doors at railway stations to prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks.

Despite strong calls from people including the visually impaired to install the doors, railway operators have been slow to respond because of such hurdles as the high costs involved.

A study panel of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry recently proposed that railway companies preferentially install the doors at stations used by at least 100,000 passengers a day. This proposal should be used as a springboard for encouraging installation of platform doors, also known as platform gates.

For train users, safety at railway stations is a major concern. Railway operators must prioritize passenger safety over concerns about delaying train schedules. Every railway company must steadily boost efforts to install platform doors at as many stations as possible.


Mere 5% have doors

The government and municipalities have been subsidizing part of the costs for installing the doors. Such subsidies should be increased to encourage more stations to equip platforms with the systems.

A platform door is a barrier, usually about 1.2 meters high, between passengers and the train and tracks. The doors are designed to open and close automatically in sync with the train doors.

Railway companies are obliged to install platform doors when they build new stations, but their installation at existing stations has been left up to the companies' discretion as a nonbinding goal. Only 500 of the nation's approximately 9,500 railway stations, or 5 percent, are equipped with platform doors.

Although the ministry's study panel has called for priority installation of the doors at the 239 stations with 100,000 or more passengers a day, only 26 of the stations now have them.

Installation of the doors can cost several billions of yen per station if complete renovation of platforms is necessary.

In addition, there are a number of lines on which the locations and numbers of train doors differ depending on trains, such as limited expresses, commuter expresses and local trains, making it hard for railway firms to install platform doors that fit all doors of every kind of train.

There were 1,253 accidents across the country from 2002 to 2009 involving falls of passengers from platforms and passenger contact with trains.

In January this year, a blind man was killed in Tokyo when he fell off a platform at Mejiro Station on JR East's Yamanote Line, and another blind man was killed in July after falling off a platform at Tsukushino Station on the Tokyu Denentoshi Line in western Tokyo. A brush with death on railway platforms can happen to people with various degrees of visual impairments, not only those who are blind.

But there have been almost no accidental falls at railway stations equipped with platform doors.


Users set to bear cost

JR East has been installing the doors at all stations on the Yamanote Line with a budget of 50 billion yen, probably because the railway operator concluded the doors are highly effective in preventing platform accidents.

In a questionnaire given to train users recently by the transport ministry, about 60 percent of the respondents replied it is inevitable the public will have to bear part of the installation costs of platform doors in such forms as higher fares and taxes. A majority of people want railway station's safety enhanced even if it increases their financial burdens.

To prevent the misery of railway accidents, it is very important not only to improve railway station facilities but also for railway firms and related organizations to make such day-to-day efforts as calling for disabled people to be heedful of possible dangers at railway stations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 18, 2011)
(2011年9月18日01時11分  読売新聞)


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