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JR West to bar public from viewing train cars recovered from deadly 2005 Amagasaki crash

JIJI

West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) said it plans to preserve all seven cars involved in a train derailment in Hyogo Prefecture that killed 106 people in 2005 at an employee training center in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, without opening them to the public.

JR West will use the cars for safety education. The plan was unveiled at a meeting in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, on Saturday that included victims’ relatives and people who were injured in the accident, some of whom did not agree with the decision.

“I want cars of the train to be placed at the site of the accident,” Akihiro Ishii, 74, whose eldest daughter was seriously injured in the crash, said after the meeting. “They should be opened to the public to keep the memories of the accident from fading.”

“Most of the victims died in the train, so their souls are in the train,” Hiroshi Ueda, 65, who lost his second son in the accident, said. “I hope cars of the train will be preserved at the site of the accident in the future so that we’ll be able to offer prayers for the victims there.”

The accident occurred during the morning rush hour on April 25, 2005. The seven-car rapid train packed with commuters derailed on a curve on JR West’s Fukuchiyama Line in the city of Amagasaki before crashing into a condominium building. The driver of the train was also killed in the crash.

Until now, the railway operator has kept some of the seven cars at a warehouse in Takasago in Hyogo. The rest are at a company facility in the city of Osaka.

“Our company, which caused the accident, has the responsibility to preserve the train cars permanently,” JR West President Tatsuo Kijima said at a news conference after the meeting.

“Preserving all seven cars at the Suita facility, which is designed for us to reflect on the accident, will allow us to offer comprehensive safety training for our employees,” Kijima said.

JR West also said it plans to hold next year’s memorial ceremony for the accident victims at two locations, including in Itami.

This year, JR West held such a ceremony at the accident site for the first time since the crash. But some relatives and victims complained that it felt difficult to go to the site, which reminds them of the accident.