Asymmetry of authority or information underlying insufficient communication associated with a risk of crashes or incidents in passenger railway transportation

Atsuo Murata, Waldemar Karwowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Similar crashes or incidents may recur as a result of insufficient communication in uncertain and risky situations that potentially threaten safety. The common root causes of insufficient communication across a series of incidents and crashes must be explored in detail to prevent a vicious circle of similar incidents or crashes from occurring. This study summarizes a series of incidents and crashes (derailment due to excessive train speed) at JR West at the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) that are considered to have arisen from insufficient communication. The incidents included (i) resuming train service without confirming the number of passengers on board and leaving passengers behind the station at Higashi-Hiroshima station, (ii) continuing train service in spite of an apparent risk of a crash detected at Okayama station, and (iii) leaving the crack of the train hood as it was at Kokura station. We discuss the causes of insufficient communication (particularly in relation to the sharing of information) among the three branches of staff—the station staff, the conductor and train driver, and the train operation management center—that led to the incidents or crashes. Two factors contributed to the insufficient communication in the series of incidents and crashes: (a) Asymmetry of authority, which hinders the discussion of issues openly and equally among the branches concerned. (b) An unacceptable level of knowledge or information for all branches concerned.

Original languageEnglish
Article number803
JournalSymmetry
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Asymmetry of authority
  • Crash
  • Incident
  • Insufficient communication
  • Passenger railway transportation
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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