Express Trains Narrowly Avoid Head-On Collision

Two high speed trains narrowly avoid collision in Japan

Japan is often praised for its efficient rail system, particularly its lightning-fast bullet trains. No matter where you are in Japan, you can easily travel from one end of the country to another by a combination of train, monorail and subway. In addition to being speedy, Japanese trains are also said to reliable and always arrive right on schedule. Of course there are sometimes inevitable delays due to wind, accidents or simple human error

This past weekend, two express trains in Kyushu came frighteningly close to disaster when both entered the same narrow stretch of track and avoided what could have been a deadly collision by only several seconds. It appears that one of the trains had to make an emergency stop prior to the incident, resulting in a scheduling mix-up. JR Kyushu, the company which manages the railway, is investigating how the two trains ended up on the same track.

Hopefully the railway company learns from its mistake and makes sure something like this doesn’t happen again!

From NHK News:

High-Speed Trains Make Emergency Stop, Avoiding Head-On Collision In Saga

On May 22nd. just after noon, an outbound express train came face to face with an inbound express train stopped at Hizenryuuou Station on the Nagasaki Line in Shiroshichou, Saga Prefecture, and made an emergency stop to avoid a head-on collision. According to Japan Railways, there were about 220 passengers on the two trains combined and no injuries.

At 12:22 pm on May 22nd, the “Kamome No. 19” train departing from Hakata and bound for Nagasaki came to be directly opposite a Nagasaki-departing and Hakata-bound “Kamome No. 20” at Hizenryuuou Station on the Nagasaki Line in Shiroshichou, Saga Prefecture. The conductor of Kamome No. 19 realized the possibility of a head-on collision and made an emergency stop roughly 120 meters from Kamome No. 20. According to Japan Railways there were total of approximately 220 passengers on the two trains but no injuries. As a result, as of 6 pm the two trains had been at a standstill for roughly six hours at the scene of the incident.

JR Kyushu reports that the two express trains had planned to pass each other at the nearby Hizenkashimae Station, but due to a scheduling error had ended up passing early at Hizenryuou Station. However, it’s unknown as to why both trains entered the same track.

In addition, right before this trouble occurred “Kamome No. 19” had a separate incident where a strange noise was detected, and had just resumed operation after a safety check, but was traveling at a speed of 35 km per hour. However it had originally been scheduled to pass Hizenryuuou Station at a faster speed. “It didn’t come to a collision accident, but we accept that it was an extremely serious situation” says JR Kyushu as they hurry to investigate the cause.

The Train`s Movements

According to JR Kyushu, the Nagasaki-bound “Kamome 19” departing from Hakata noticed a strange noise coming from under the carriage just before arriving at Hizeryuuou Station in Saga at 12:10 pm, so the driver made an emergency stop just past the green signal at the station. As a result, the railway schedule was thrown off. At first the scheduled pass with the Hakata-bound express Kamome No. 20 was suddenly changed from the nearby Hizenkashima Station to Hizenryuuou. At 12:20, while the outbound express train was being inspected, the inbound express stopped at Platform No. 1 at Hizenryuuou. Immediately afterwards the outbound train finished its inspection and resumed operation after reporting to command.

The outbound express train had initially planned to pass the inbound express at the station’s Platform No. 2 but entered the track just before the platform and continued to Platform No 1. Because of this, the driver noticed the abnormality and brought the train to a sudden stop after seeing that a train was stopped at Platform 1. At this time the distance between the inbound and outbound trains was about 120 meters.

Usually the train is stopped automatically just before the platform, but due to the mix-up it was done manually. JR Kyushu is thoroughly investigating the cause, such as the details of the rail switch.

Investigators Have Been Dispatched To The Scene

In the incident where an outbound express train came face to face with an inbound express train stopped at Hizenryuuou Station on the Nagasaki Line in Shiroshichou, Saga Prefecture, Japan’s Transportation Safety Committee has decided to investigate it as a “Major Incident”, citing the potential for a major accident, and dispatched two investigators to the scene.

Comments from 2ch:


That was a close one


Wow that was bad

ラ ケブラーダ(新疆ウイグル自治区)@\(^o^)/:

Normally you can’t enter through there, right?

目潰し(dion軍)@\(^o^)/ :

Was it a game of “Chicken”?


This must’ve been the work of hackers.


The picture really came out well. Amazing

ローリングソバット(庭)@\(^o^)/ :

So there was only one lane in that area, huh


This could have turned into a horrible disaster on par with Amagasaki


This was one hell of a mistake


Was it terrorism? Something unnatural? A machine rebellion?


Good thing those breaks were Japanese-made


One wrong move and this could have been a huge disaster.
Anyway the fact that nothing happened after all is very typical of Saga.


What were they doing? w


You all put your faith in computers, but all the computers worldwide are being monitored. If just one screw in a computer got loose, you’d all be dead in an instant.

サソリ固め(長野県)@\(^o^)/ :

Why was the crossing open on this side even though no one knew the other train was there? (´・ω・`)


From now on I’m no longer going to ride in the front car

河津掛け(兵庫県)@\(^o^)/ :

This kind of situation shouldn’t be possible
JR Kyushu seems to be reckless when it comes to operating trains
Fire those responsible.


Did this happen because of a single person’s mistake?
If there was something with ill intentions in mind they could have caused an accident couldn’t they?

サソリ固め(大阪府)@\(^o^)/ :

Is this really the time to be taking pictures?

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  • lonetrey / Dan

    Wowwwwww, check out the source video! That looks like a 2 second or less window. Seriously, if the people had stopped a couple seconds later, there would be a train wreckage there instead!

    Thank goodness they caught that in time!

    • suki


  • vonskippy

    It’s the 21st century yet the trains, especially their positional navagation, still has the safety equipment of the 1950’s.

  • David

    As usual, terrible job of reporting the facts. Good job translating Ryan.

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