Jump to content

Amagasaki derailment

Coordinates: 34°44′29.3″N 135°25′35.7″E / 34.741472°N 135.426583°E / 34.741472; 135.426583
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Amagasaki rail crash)

Amagasaki derailment
Aftermath of the Amagasaki derailment
DateApril 25, 2005; 19 years ago (2005-04-25)
09:19 (JST)
LocationAmagasaki, Hyōgo Prefecture
Coordinates34°44′29.3″N 135°25′35.7″E / 34.741472°N 135.426583°E / 34.741472; 135.426583
LineFukuchiyama Line
OperatorWest Japan Railway Company
Incident typeDerailment
CauseDriver error; overspeeding train on curve arising from a fear of harsh penalties for lateness and JR West's retraining system
PassengersApproximately 700
Deaths107 (including driver)
derailment location
to Osaka &

The Amagasaki derailment (JR福知山線脱線事故, JR Fukuchiyama-sen dassen jiko, lit. "JR Fukuchiyama Line derailment") occurred in Amagasaki, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, on 25 April 2005 at 09:19 local time (00:19 UTC), just after the local rush hour. It occurred when a seven-car commuter train came off the tracks on West Japan Railway Company's (JR West) Fukuchiyama Line in just before Amagasaki on its way for Dōshisha-mae via the JR Tōzai Line and the Katamachi Line, and the front two cars rammed into an apartment building. The first car slid into the first-floor parking garage and as a result took days to remove, while the second slammed into the corner of the building, being crushed into an L-shape against it by the weight of the remaining cars. Of the roughly 700 passengers (initial estimate was 580 passengers) on board at the time of the crash, 106 passengers, in addition to the driver, were killed and 562 others injured. Most survivors and witnesses claimed that the train appeared to have been travelling too fast. The incident was Japan's most serious since the 1963 Tsurumi rail accident.

As of 2024, the accident remains the fifth-deadliest train crash in Japanese history, behind the Nebukawa Station accident, Mikawashima train crash, Tsurumi rail accident and the Hachikō Line derailment.

Train details and crash[edit]

A 207 series EMU train similar to the one involved in the Amagasaki rail crash

The train involved was train number 5418M, a limited-stop "Rapid" commuter service from Takarazuka Station to Dōshishamae Station. It was a seven-car 207 series electric multiple unit (EMU) formation consisting of a four-car set and a three-car set coupled together as shown below, with Car 1 leading.[1] The train was carrying approximately 700 passengers at the time of the accident.[1]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Numbering KuHa 207-17 MoHa 207-31 MoHa 206-17 KuHa 206-129 KuMoHa 207-1033 SaHa 207-1019 KuHa 206-1033

The front four cars derailed completely, with the first car ramming into the parking lot of the apartment building and the second car colliding into the external wall of the building becoming almost completely compacted by the third and fourth cars, which were themselves pushed from the rear by the fifth car.[1]

The destroyed leading car
The apartment building where the accident took place being demolished in 2016. A JR West 321 series train is seen in the photo.


The investigation report of the accident

Investigators primarily focused on the speeding by the 23-year-old driver, later identified as Ryūjirō Takami (who was among the dead), as being the most likely cause of the derailment. Twenty-five minutes before the derailment, the driver had run a red signal, causing the automatic train stop (ATS) to bring the train to a halt.[2] The train had also overshot the correct stopping position at an earlier stop at Itami Station with more than 3 carriages, requiring him to back up the train, and resulting in a 90-second delay,[1] about four minutes before the disaster.[2] By the time the train passed Tsukaguchi Station at a speed of 120 km/h (75 mph), the delay had been reduced to 60 seconds.[1]

Investigators speculate that the driver may have been trying to make up this lost time by increasing the train's speed beyond customary limits. Many reports from surviving passengers indicate that the train was traveling at a faster than normal speed. Furthermore, it is speculated that the driver may have felt stressed because he would have been punished for the two infractions. Ten months before the crash, the driver had been reprimanded by the train's operator, the West Japan Railway Company (JR West), for overshooting a station platform by 100 metres (330 ft). In the minutes leading up to the derailment, he may have been thinking of the punishment he would have faced and may have not been totally focused on driving.[2]

JR West is very strict when it comes to punctuality,[3] and commuters often depend on near-perfect timing on the part of trains to commute to and from work on time. This is because at JR West stations (including the derailed train's next scheduled stop at Amagasaki Station) trains meet on both sides of the same platform to allow people to transfer between rapid and local trains running on the same line. As a result, a small delay in one train can significantly cascade through the timetable for the rest of the day due to the tightness of the schedule. Immediately after the crash occurred, some of the mass media pointed to the congested schedule of the Fukuchiyama Line as an indirect factor. In fact, cumulative changes over the previous three years had reduced the leeway in the train's schedule from 71 to 28 seconds over the fifteen minutes between Takarazuka and Amagasaki stations.

Drivers for JR West face financial penalties for lateness as well as being forced into harsh and humiliating retraining programs known as nikkin kyōiku (日勤教育, "dayshift education"), which include weeding and grass-cutting duties during the day.[4][5] The final report officially concluded that the retraining system was one probable cause of the crash.[6] This program consisted of severe verbal abuse, forcing the employees to repent by writing extensive reports. Many experts saw the process of nikkin kyoiku as punishment and psychological torture, not retraining.[2] The driver had also received a non-essential phone call from the general control station at the time that he was rounding the bend.[7]

The speed limit on the segment of track where the derailment happened was 70 km/h (43 mph). The data recorder in the rear of the train (the rear cars were new and equipped with many extra devices) later showed that the train was moving at 116 km/h (72 mph) at that point. Investigators ran a series of simulations and calculated that the train would derail on that curve if going over 106 km/h (66 mph). It has been speculated that the driver was so stressed about the inevitability of going back to nikkin kyoiku due to his prior infractions that morning, that he did not notice that the train was going too fast. When the driver did notice, four seconds before the derailment, he used the service brake instead of the emergency brake, presumably to avoid another infraction as using the emergency brake had to be justified.[2]

Japanese building codes do not regulate the distance between train lines and residential buildings due to high confidence in the engineering of the rail system. As a result, railway lines often pass close to residential buildings in metropolitan areas.


Amongst other things, the Ministry of Land and Transportation asked all railway companies to update their automatic stopping systems so that trains would brake automatically and slow down as they approached sharp curves.[citation needed]

It is believed that a contributing factor in the accident was JR West's policy of schedule punctuality. As a result, Masataka Ide, a JR West adviser who played a major role in enforcing the punctuality of the company's trains, announced that he would resign in June 2005. JR West's chairman and president also resigned in August.[citation needed]

The section where the crash occurred, between Amagasaki and Takarazuka stations, was re-opened for service on 19 June 2005. The rail speed limits around the site of the accident were reduced from 120 to 95 km/h (75 to 59 mph) for the straight section and from 70 to 60 km/h (43 to 37 mph) for the curved section.[citation needed]

According to investigations carried out by the Hyōgo Prefecture police, out of the 107 deaths, at least 43 (27 men and 16 women), including the driver, were in the first car; at least 45 (22 men and 23 women) were in the second car; and at least one was in the third car. This information was determined by questioning 519 of the approximately 550 injured passengers.[citation needed]

On 26 December 2005, Takeshi Kakiuchi officially resigned from the presidency of JR West in a move intended to take responsibility for the accident. Kakiuchi's successor was Masao Yamazaki, who had previously served as the railway's vice president, based in Osaka. Kakiuchi's resignation came one day after another serious accident on JR East, though officials at the railway did not make any explicit connection between the accident and the resignation.[citation needed]

A 2008 The Daily Yomiuri article stated that survivors of the disaster still faced physical and mental health issues.[8]

On 8 July 2009, JR West president Masao Yamazaki was charged with professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries, as he was in charge of safety measures in 1996 when the company rebuilt railway tracks to sharpen the curve at the accident's site. Prosecutors said that he failed to put in an Automatic Train Stop system, which could have halted the train.[9][10] On the same day, Yamazaki announced that he would resign "so the company can operate normally", but would remain as a member of the company's board.[11] On 11 January 2012, Yamazaki was found not guilty by judge Makoto Okada of the Kobe District Court, saying the accident was not sufficiently predictable to merit a finding of guilt. The court, however, criticized JR West for faulty risk assessment of the curve where the accident happened.[12]

In 2017, the building hit by the train was demolished. In 2018, a memorial facility and monument were built at the accident site by JR West. Part of the condominium building was preserved and the location was covered with a roof.[13][14]

In February 2023, JR West began to construct a new facility at a training center in Suita to display some of the train cars involved in the accident and the belongings of the dead. Completion is slated for around December 2025.[13][14][15]

As of 2024, the report for this incident still takes a prominent place on JR West's Japanese homepage. The text reads "We will never forget the Amagasaki rail crash we caused on 25 April 2005."[16]

Similar accidents[edit]

Too fast around sharp curve[edit]

Failure to check speed after stop and proceed[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e Nagase, Kazuhiko (July 2005). "福知山線脱線事故の問題を語る" [Discussing the problems of the Fukuchiyama Line derailment]. Railway Journal. 39 (465). Japan: Tetsudō Journal: 68–73.
  2. ^ a b c d e Seconds From DisasterRunaway Train – season 6, episode 7
  3. ^ Nagata, Takashi; Rosborough, Stephanie N.; VanRooyen, Michael J.; Kozawa, Shuichi; Ukai, Takashi; Nakayama, Shinichi (September–October 2006). "Express Railway Disaster in Amagasaki: A Review of Urban Disaster Response Capacity in Japan". Prehosp Disaster Med. 21 (5): 345–52. doi:10.1017/S1049023X0000399X. PMID 17297906. S2CID 24073413.
  4. ^ "Drivers win toilet battle with Japan train firm | Facilitate | Workplace & Facilitate Magazine". Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  5. ^ "1,182 'retraining sessions' at JR West". The Japan Times Online. 23 July 2005. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  6. ^ "JR, train driver faulted in final report on crash". The Japan Times Online. 29 June 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Railway accident investigation report (Excerpt)" (PDF). mlit.go.jp. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2023.
  8. ^ "'05 JR West crash victims, families still suffer effects." The Daily Yomiuri. 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  9. ^ "JR West president indicted over crash". The Japan Times. 9 July 2009. Archived from the original on 24 May 2024. Retrieved 24 May 2024.
  10. ^ "Japan rail chief cleared over 2005 train crash". BBC. 11 January 2012. Archived from the original on 24 May 2024. Retrieved 24 May 2024.
  11. ^ Horie, Masatsugu; Clenfield, Jason (8 July 2009). "West Japan Railway Chief Yamazaki Says He Will Resign". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014.
  12. ^ Kyodo News, "Court clears former JR chief in '05 derailment Archived 14 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine", The Japan Times, 12 January 2012, p. 1.
  13. ^ a b "Survivors, victims' relatives mark 17 years since JR West derailment". Kyodo News. 25 April 2022. Archived from the original on 24 May 2024. Retrieved 24 May 2024.
  14. ^ a b "Memorial service held for 107 victims of 2005 fatal train derailment in Hyogo". Japan Today. 25 April 2024. Archived from the original on 24 May 2024. Retrieved 24 May 2024.
  15. ^ "Victims of JR West train crash mourned 19 years on". The Japan Times. 25 April 2024. Archived from the original on 24 May 2024. Retrieved 24 May 2024.
  16. ^ "JR西日本 West Japan Railway Company:トップページ". JR西日本 West Japan Railway Company:トップページ (in Japanese). Retrieved 25 May 2024.
  17. ^ "Brakeless", pbs.org, PBS.
  18. ^ National Geographic, Seconds From Disaster

External links[edit]