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JR East to equip bullet train staff with security equipment to defend against attacks

Kyodo

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) will by the end of the year equip its bullet trains with shields and tear gas spray to be used by train crew in response to a deadly knife attack on a crowded shinkansen in June, the railway operator said in a press release Tuesday.

The security equipment will be placed inside all its bullet trains, with drivers and conductor carrying sprayers and flashlights so they can obstruct the vision of attackers. Stab-proof jackets and two-pronged weapons for catching criminals will also be readied at all shinkansen stops and major conventional railway stations.

Central Japan Railway Co., the operator of the train where the attack took place, and West Japan Railway Co. have already announced similar measures to enhance security.

In the June incident, a man on a rampage slashed two female passengers on a Tokaido bullet train bound for Shin-Osaka Station from Tokyo. A male passenger who tried to stop the assailant was killed. The attacker was arrested after police stormed the train.

During the incident, the conductor shielded himself using a removable seat cushion while trying to talk with the attacker. JR East said it will refurbish the seats on its bullet trains so they can be as easily removed as those on the Tokaido shinkansen.

The company also said it will introduce an emergency information-sharing system that connects the train crews and a command and control center via smartphones, enabling three or more people to communicate at the same time.

JR East will also increase the amount of emergency medical supplies, such as bandages and surgical dressings, inside its trains, it said.