Saturday, January 15, 2005

train line tragedy


the japan rail, chuo line, the fastest running train between tokyo and shinjuku station and stretching far out into the western suburbs, has been making a rather gruesome name for itself.  the disturbing rate of death by jumping (in front of the train) has seen many of the stations along this line spring into action, in an attempt to deter this horrific act.

regarding such a serious and important issue, no doubt the discussions, meetings and late nights at the office would have been countless as would have been the bowing, indecisiveness and saliva sucking.  however some innovative and perhaps unheard of ideas have been planned and executed. a seemingly attractive stretch for the depressed, between tachikawa and kunitachi stations, was given a rainbow-bright face lift in an attempt to either a) highlight any lurking activity or b) add some cheer to a seriously down soul contemplating death.  some platforms have replaced their drab grey concrete with fresh white tiles, possibly having a psychological effect on the depressed ??.  the deterant that causes the greatest amount of intrigue is the idea of covering the walls of some platforms with full length mirrors. for the sake of the possible-jumpers and their families, we hope that this measure does not create the opposite to its intended response.  a full length reflection of oneself, feeling worthless, lifeless and on the brink may actually be motivation to finish the job.

we do hope that all measures are effective in helping to alleviate this serious and sad issue, however feel that this social issue requires more than mirrors and rainbows and goes far deeper than asthetics.

as an added blow, the familties of the deceased are suspected to be the ones covering the cost of the tragedy, financially covering clean up, damage, commuter transportation and ticket refunds.

This story from the The Daily Mainichi newspaper gives an indication of the kind of 'inconvience' and financial impact these 'accidents' create.

'Woman Jumps to Death in Front of JR Train

Jan 20, 2000.  TOKYO — A woman killed herself by jumping in front of a JR Chuo Line train in Tokyo on Wednesday morning, temporarily halting service and inconveniencing nearly 90,000 commuters, police said. The unidentified woman, who appeared to be in her 30s, jumped in front of an oncoming rapid-service train bound for Takao at Asagaya Station in Suginami-ku, Tokyo, at around 7:20 a.m. and was killed instantly, according to police. Investigators suspect suicide and are attempting to identify the woman. The train was brought to a standstill for nearly 50 minutes and six other rapid-service trains on the line were canceled. Some 50 local trains were delayed for three to 48 minutes. At one point, more than 1,000 people crammed onto the platform at JR Mitaka Station and police had to be sent in to restore order, investigators said.'

a quick and extremely conservative calculation, would see the families reimbursing approx 20 million yen (about a quarter of a million australian) for ticket refunds alone. that added to the unthinkable pain.

we sure hope the countless meetings, discussions and late nights continue to equal a proactive response to this nasty social issue.



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