Simple errors by a contractor were the cause of delays on an overnight construction project that shut down the JR Chuo Line for eight hours late last month, East Japan Railway Co. said Tuesday.
JR East began the construction work to switch to elevated tracks between Mitaka and Tachikawa stations on the afternoon of Sept. 27. The work was scheduled to be completed by 6 a.m. the following day, at which time the trains were to resume operations.
But malfunctions in signal and warning systems near Musashikoganei Station prevented JR East from restarting full services until nearly 2 p.m., affecting some 180,000 people.
On Tuesday, JR East President Mutsutake Otsuka blamed the fiasco on an electrical installation firm in charge of the construction work. He told a news conference that an internal investigation showed that the firm had drawn up faulty wiring diagrams.
According to JR East, the firm produced wiring diagrams that were either wrong or different to the ones necessary for the spots that were being worked on.
Although the mistakes in the wiring were discovered during a test run, the incorrect wiring was replaced in an incorrect manner after the test, JR East said. The railway operator also blamed insufficient communication among the various sections.
Explaining why the problems were concentrated in the vicinity of Musashikoganei Station, JR East said there was not enough space at that station for some of the construction work to be done in advance, meaning more work had to be done on that day than at other stations.
JR East said it would set up a committee to review large-scale construction projects in an effort to prevent such problems from happening again.
“Up to now, we had no system for company headquarters to check the construction work,” Otsuka said. “In the future, we will review the way we deal with such large-scale construction projects so that the head of the office involved will be the on-site overseer.”
The delays along the Chuo Line were exacerbated by JR East’s decision to prioritize finding out why the mechanical problems occurred rather than taking emergency measures to get trains running.
Responding to this criticism, the railway operator said that amid the confusion, those involved had not given thought to finding ways to get the trains operating again. The officials said the new committee would deal with this matter.
JR East also apologized to the thousands of people affected by the delays on the Keihin Tohoku Line on Monday morning. The roughly four-hour delay occurred after a train collided with construction equipment left on the tracks.
“It’s a mistake that should not have happened, and I find it unbelievable,” JR East managing director Nobuyuki Hashiguchi said.
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