1,182 ‘retraining sessions’ at JR West

West Japan Railway Co. conducted 1,182 employee retraining sessions during a two-year period from April 2003, the longest lasting 51 days, the transport ministry’s accident investigation commission said Friday.

Union members have said the sessions, held for employees who made operational errors, tended to be punitive and exerted undue psychological pressure.

According to the commission, JR West conducted retraining programs 574 times in fiscal 2003 with an average training period of 4.7 days. In fiscal 2004, it was 608 times, with an average training period of 5.9 days.

The longest training period in fiscal 2003 was 51 days, and 47 days in fiscal 2004.

The railway also transferred 12 drivers to different jobs for “causing problems” in fiscal 2004, according to the Aircraft and Railway Accidents Investigation Commission under the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

In saying the sessions tended to be punitive and exerted undue psychological pressure, the unions said such pressure could have been behind the April accident on JR West’s Fukuchiyama Line in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, that killed 106 passengers and the driver.