Shinkansen driver ‘dozed off’

The Yomiuri ShimbunSENDAI — A Shinkansen driver fell asleep for about four minutes as his train was arriving at Sendai Station, causing the train to overrun by about 20 meters before it was stopped by emergency brake, the Sendai Branch Office of East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) has announced.

No injuries were reported among the about 500 passengers aboard the 10-car service heading for Morioka from Tokyo on the Tohoku Shinkansen line, the branch said Friday.

The Yamabiko No. 59 was approaching Sendai Station just after 10 p.m. on April 1 while using an automatic speed reduction function. However, the conductor realized the train was running faster than usual, prompting him to apply an emergency brake. The train overran its stopping position, and passengers got off about 1½ minutes behind schedule, after the train was returned to the right place.

During an in-house inquiry, the male driver, who is in his 40s, initially told the Sendai Branch Office that he mistakenly thought he was driving a 17-car train.

However, the office continued the probe due to ambiguous elements in his account and the driver eventually admitted on Friday that he had “dozed off for four minutes until the train stopped,” according to the office.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience we caused [to passengers],” the Sendai Branch Office said. “We’ve given strict instructions to the driver.”Speech

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