A trolley car slammed into the back of another one that was stopped for a safety test Tuesday morning on the Arakawa tram line that runs through Kita Ward, Tokyo, injuring 25 passengers and one safety inspector, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said.
Twenty-one people were hospitalized, said an official of the metropolitan government, which operates the line.
Police were trying to determine the cause of the accident, but they suspect negligence on the part of the motorman in the trolley car that was moving. The line has no automatic emergency braking system.
Service on the line resumed at 3:32 p.m.
The moving trolley car was carrying 30 passengers when the accident occurred at 9:37 a.m. between Kajiwara and Sakaecho stations.
The car undergoing the safety checks had seven inspectors and a driver on board. It had stopped 160 meters from Kajiwara Station to test its emergency brakes.
The trolley carrying the passengers left Kajiwara Station for the Sakaecho stop at 9:36 p.m., metropolitan government officials said.
The tracks along the 510-meter section between the two stops run straight.
Officials say the car running behind was traveling at about 25 kph at the time of impact. Streetcars usually run at 35 kph on that section and have a top speed of 40 kph.
According to the metropolitan government’s streetcar operating manual, drivers must slow to 15 kph when within 100 meters of another trolley.
Unlike ordinary trains, the trolleys do not have an automatic braking system, so drivers must be alert to traffic and maintain a safe distance, the official said.
The trolley car being tested had two signs — one digital and one paper — on its rear announcing it was on a test run. The driver of the other trolley had not been told a test was being performed, the official said.
“We usually don’t inform drivers about test runs. We haven’t had any accidents with the present method,” said Mamoru Sato, director of the metropolitan government’s train department.
Trial runs are conducted once a month.
“We will take measures to prevent such an accident from happening again,” Sato said.
The driver of the trolley that was moving is 30 years old and has six years of experience.
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