Well, it appears that the Daily Yomiuri links go back to the index page instead of the articles, so I'll post them here in an edited format to comply with the railroad.net policy on posting articles on the site. I have rearranged some bits and edited other bits out. Original text from the articles appears in italics while my words, interjections, cultural notes, etc. are in regular font.
Note: All information from the articles below, copywright 2005 Daily Yomiuri Shinbun
Commission: Train could derail at 120 kph
- The Yomiuri Shimbun
An investigative commission says a train traveling at a speed of about 120 kph could derail on a bend like the one at the accident site in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, lower than the 133 kph that West Japan Railway Co. had estimated earlier.
The officials added that the derailed train was a 207-series model and designed to go no faster than 120 kph, indicating the accident could not have been caused by speeding. However, according to an analysis on JR West's calculations by the Construction and Transport Ministry's Aircraft and Railway Accident Investigation Commission, a train would jump the tracks when traveling at 133 kph.
The commission also found that the railway company calculated the figure on the weight of an empty train with no consideration for weather conditions, such as side winds and humidity, that could affect the tracks and train car performance. When the accident occurred Monday, the train was packed with passengers. According to the commission, the more passengers a train carries, the higher the train's center of gravity, making it more unstable.
A I’m not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination, be even I know that a fully loaded vehicle handles a lot differently than an empty one. Also, having a vehicle with a high center of gravity with a relatively small stance (3’6” is the standard gauge for Japan) is not a good combination. I can speak from personal experience of riding the train into Akita City (capitol city of Akita Prefecture), as the trains used to rock and sway a good deal as we went through the crossovers and turnouts leading into the terminal.
As for the rocks supposedly left on the tracks…
The railway firm also announced that white powder resembling crushed stones had been found on the tracks near the accident site, implying stones left on the tracks might have caused the derailment. The commission, however, shrugged off such a possibility, saying the white powder was from crushed ballast stones, and not objects deliberately left on the tracks.
So, it appears that rocks on the tracks were not the cause of the accident at this point in time.
Police scrutinize rush hour schedule
- The Yomiuri Shimbun
Police suspect an overloaded rush hour schedule on the JR F u k u c h i y a m a Line played a part in Monday's fatal train crash in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Friday. A survey by West Japan Railway Co. in early April showed the F u k u c h i y a m a Line's four eastbound trains were behind schedule every day during the morning rush hour by 40 to 71 seconds. The Hyogo prefectural police believe the line's trains were regularly behind schedule during the morning rush hour, putting drivers under intense pressure from JR West management to keep the trains on time. The police plan to investigate JR West's management of traffic on the line.
According to a survey on the F u k u c h i y a m a Line, rapid trains that left Shin Sanda Station at 7:21 a.m., on average arrived at Osaka 71 seconds behind schedule. Local trains leaving Shin Sanda Station at 7:15 a.m. and bound for Shijonawate Station were an average of 40 seconds behind schedule when they passed through Amagasaki Station.
Ryujiro Takami, the driver of Monday's train who died when it crashed, drove the local train from Kyobashi Station to Shijonawate Station on April 11. When Takami took control of the train at Kyobashi Station, the train was already two minutes behind schedule and it arrived at Shijonawate Station two minutes late.
So, Takami wasn’t the only motorman who was behind schedule, and running late is a common occourance on that particular line, if not JR West in general.
Last edited by Komachi on Fri May 06, 2005 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.