Oh, Looking Different from Usual...90-Degree Turn of JR Stations' Benches in Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures21 September 2016 - Traffic
Platform bench renovations, where the benches are rotated 90 degrees so they do not face the tracks, are in progress at JR-West's stations in Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures as well as other prefectures. This is a measure to prevent falls, taking into consideration the behavioral patterns of intoxicated passengers who, upon rising from benches, move toward the tracks. According to JR-West, work has already been completed at 200 stations, and so far, no accidents from intoxicated passengers falling have occurred.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, there were 142 collision accidents involving intoxicated passengers and trains on train tracks or platforms in fiscal 2014, which is almost triple the 53 accidents in fiscal 2002. At stations across Japan, 1982 intoxicated passengers fell onto the tracks in fiscal 2013, with 22 people having accidents in the area overseen by JR Kyoto Branch, which supervises the mid-southern part of Kyoto Prefecture and Shiga Prefecture.
From analysis of behavioral patterns of intoxicated passengers that fell onto the tracks from security camera footage and so on, JR-West's Safety Research Institute in Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, found that in 57% of the 136 cases in fiscal 2013 and 2014, the passengers "suddenly began walking from the bench toward the track and fell." In 15% of the cases they staggered and fell from the edge of the platform.
Bench-rotation construction work was begun by each JR-West branch from January 2015. As of the end of August, Kyoto Branch had turned all the benches at 27 stations, including Otsu, Zeze, Kameoka and other stations, and some of the benches at 11 stations, including Kyoto Station, out of its total of 100 stations. Fukuchiyama Branch, which oversees northern Kyoto Prefecture and other areas, plans to make changes at 48 of its 71 stations, including Ayabe, Nishi-Maizuru, Higashi-Maizuru and other stations by next March.
A company-employee from Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture, who used a bench that had been rotated 90 degrees at Fukuchiyama Station, said, "At first, I felt some discomfort because the view when sitting was different. It's hard to imagine what the actions of an intoxicated person might be, but yes, it seems to make falling more difficult." The business division of Fukuchiyama branch said, "It is likely this will prevent not only intoxicated passengers, but also people who are feeling dizzy from falling."
Ryozo Kawashima, a railway critic, said, "Now that the intensified control over drunk driving has increased the use of trains by intoxicated people, railway companies can no longer ignore accidents involving falling onto the tracks. However, it would be more effective to install movable safety fences. They could also prevent falls by visually-challenged people."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)