JR launches emergency rail checks

Kyodo

The Japan Railway group launched emergency track checks nationwide in light of a freight train derailment last week that put Hokkaido Railway Co. under the spotlight for hundreds of track repair failures, officials said Thursday.

The directive includes East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), West Japan Railway Co., Shikoku Railway Co. and Kyushu Railway Co. and was issued Wednesday by the transport ministry.

In Hokkaido, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry continued its special safety inspections Thursday of JR Hokkaido, which has found, and since rectified, unrepaired rail defects at 267 locations.

Of the other train operators born through the 1987 split and privatization of the deficit-ridden Japanese National Railways, JR West told workers Tuesday to immediately recheck past inspections to see whether the repairs were actually carried out.

JR East launched similar checks Monday, while JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu began inspections on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. JR Tokai has already rechecked past repairs on all 12 lines it services. On Sept. 19, a freight train derailed near Onuma Station on the Hakodate Line operated by JR Hokkaido.