National

Campaign to help elderly, disabled passengers launched by Tokyo-area train companies

by Alex Martin

Staff Writer

East Japan Railway Co. and other railway services operating in the Tokyo metropolitan area launched a campaign Tuesday asking the public to lend a hand in helping the elderly and people with disabilities.

During the two-month campaign, posters illustrating ways to assist fellow commuters in need will be featured in stations and a commercial will be aired on electronic displays inside trains.

At a kick-off event held at Yokohama Station on Tuesday, staff from various railway companies handed out free packets of advertising pocket tissues to passers-by to raise awareness.

“I’m fine walking in stations that I’m familiar with, but it can be scary when it’s a new place,” said Akihiro Go, a member of the Japan Guide Dog Association, an organization that is taking part in the initiative.

“It’s very helpful if people can offer their assistance in such instances,” Go, who is visually impaired, told reporters.

Train and subway companies have been building platform screen doors to prevent passengers from falling onto railway tracks.

According to the transport ministry, the number of stations in Japan that have introduced such platform barriers grew to 686 in fiscal 2016 from 318 in fiscal 2006.

An official at JR East said that, so far, 24 of the 29 stations on the Yamanote Line, one of Tokyo’s busiest train lines, are equipped with the automatic platform gates.

A ministry official said there were 187 deaths due to accidents on railways and in stations in the year ended March 31. Of those, three cases involved passengers who were visually impaired.

The same year saw 2,890 nonfatal cases of passengers falling off platforms, including 69 that involved visually impaired passengers.