New system shortens train evacuation times

A Japanese railway company says it has introduced an automated system that shortens the time for passengers to evacuate from trains that make emergency stops due to earthquakes.

A powerful quake hit northern Osaka Prefecture in western Japan in 2018. About 140,000 passengers were trapped for up to six hours in trains that stopped between stations.

The new system assesses whether trains on different lines can resume operations as far as the next station based on the intensity of the quake in more narrowly defined areas.

Train drivers can then decide whether to restart without waiting for instructions from the command center.

The president of West Japan Railway said on Monday that the company introduced the system on four of its lines in June. Hasegawsa Kazuaki says the system will allow trains to swiftly continue on to the next station, thereby reducing cases where they are halted between stations for long periods.

The company said the system can reduce the time it takes to evacuate passengers by up to 35 percent.