The Railway Technical Research Institute will lay a test track as early as this autumn to run experiments aimed at shedding light on the causes of train derailments, such as the fatal Tokyo subway collision in March 2000, institute officials said Saturday.
The Japan Railway-affiliated research institute said the 500-meter track will be the country’s first dedicated to researching the derailment of nonfreight trains. The track will have two sharp curves and will be laid within the institute’s grounds in the city of Kokubunji near Tokyo.
A train will travel on the track at around 25 kph in experiments to simulate the fatal collision that occurred between two trains running on curves at low speeds near Nakameguro Station on the Hibiya Line in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, the officials said.
The institute will collect data on the friction between wheels and tracks and the imbalance between wheel weights to identify critical aspects of the derailment process, they said.
A weight imbalance on the wheels is thought to have been the primary cause of the subway derailment, which killed five passengers and injured 64.
In the accident, the rear carriage of an eight-carriage train derailed about 150 meters northeast of the station and slammed into an oncoming train.
In April 2000, an investigative panel set up by the then Transport Ministry conducted test runs near Nakameguro Station to identify the cause of the derailment. The results merely showed that a wheel had detached from the tracks without identifying the reasons why.
Officials said they hope to re-enact the situation at the test track to find out more about the derailment process.
The institute already has a 300-meter track for normal test runs but decided to construct another specifically for derailment studies, the officials said.
Following a series of freight train derailments in the 1960s, the now-defunct Japanese National Railways built a test line in Hokkaido that operated between 1967 and 1971 to find out about derailments involving such trains.
According to the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, 21 derailments occurred across Japan in the year to March 2000.
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