Hard-drinking Japanese commuters who over-indulge will be now be automatically detected via smart cameras as part of a campaign to cut down on alcohol fuelled accidents which account for 60% of the overall total. The initiative believed to be the first in the world is currently being trialed by West Japan Railway Company at Kyobashi station, which is located near one of Osaka’s entertainment districts, a popular area for late-drinking salarymen who are well-served by their extensive urban train networks. Pending a successful trial, the company will consider rolling out across their network. The 46 strong CCTV network in the station will automatically search for signs of drunkenness and alert station staff if intervention is deemed to be required.
The railway have stated that the clues that the cameras will be seeking as to the intoxication of station dwellers include the obvious staggering, as well as people remaining motionless for extended periods of time and those sleeping on benches. West Japan Railway said the system won’t be used to monitor the identities of people in any way. According to the Wall Street Journal, in the year beginning 2013, there were 221 cases in Japan in which passengers on platforms were hit by trains – of which around 60% were estimated to have been drunk at the time. Typically the accident would involve a drunken passenger falling off the platform or getting hit by an arriving train while standing too near the platform edge or beyond the allowable distance.
In April 2015, West Japan Railway switched its platform bench orientation to attempt thwart drunk Japanese rail passengers and potentially fatal tumbles. A research report from the railway found that most of the drunk passengers who fall from train platforms in Japan do not stagger along and stumble off, but rise from an alcohol-infused slumber on benches and march headlong onto the tracks, a study has found. As a result benches are beginning to be rotated 90 degrees so passengers face the ends of the platforms instead of the tracks.
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