Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 53 (topics)

January–April 2009

1 January China and Viet Nam opened international rail service between Nanning and Hanoi using 8-car trainsets with sleeper and restaurant cars and covering approx. 400 km in 13 hours
1 January Fire sparked by New Year fireworks in Bangkok,Thailand, nightclub left 61 partygoers dead and 241 injured to varying degrees
1 January
Long-distance bus overturned on expressway in Guizhou Province, China, killing 4 people and injuring 13 others
2 January Japan’s National Police Agency announced 5155 road traffic deaths in 2008 and 8th year-on-year drop to record one-third fatality level of worst year in 1970, attributed to increasing seatbelt usage and huge drop in drunk driving
4 January

Medical evacuation helicopter crashed in Louisiana,USA, killing 8 of 9 people onboard and seriously injuring sole survivor

4 January mall boat overturned in Kosi River, eastern Nepal, leaving 2 people dead, 30 missing and 12 rescued
5 January

Large bus overturned in Guizhou Province, China, killing 15 of 46 people onboard and injuring 28 others

5 January

Loss-making, third-sector Yamagata Railway (30.5 km between Akayu and Arato) in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, opened public search to fill position of next president with renewable 2-year contract at salary of ¥6.6 million

6 January Collision between bus and truck in Hebei Province, China, left 6 bus passengers and driver dead and 4 others injured
6 January Continental Airways performed first US domestic airline test of bio fuel using 50% mixture with aviation fuel to power 90-minute flight by Boeing B737-800
8 January

JTB announced 2009 passenger forecasts with 4.4% third consecutive year-on-year drop in overseas trips by Japanese to 15.3 million due to sluggish tourism and business demand caused by credit crunch

8 January

JR East announced purchase of 96-km, narrow gauge line running between Hachinohe and Aomori following separation of business due to opening of Tohoku Shinkansen and Aomori Station, with investment reaching ¥8.37 billion in 2010

9 January

US Aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced layoffs of 4500 staff by June totalling about 7% of 68,000 staff due to 53% drop in new orders in 2008 as part of new development cost reduction measures

9 January Russian Mi-171 helicopter crashed in Altai Republic, killing 8 of 11 people onboard and leaving 3 others seriously injured
10 January Bus ran off road and over ravine in mountainous region of Peru, killing 32 people and injuring 25 others
11 January Ferry carrying about 260 people overturned and sunk by high waves off coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, leaving 5 people confirmed dead, 30 rescued and 230 missing
11 January aiwan passed anti-smoking law, preventing smoking in any room with more than 3 people and while walking in street
12 January US government introduced Internet-based preregistration electronic passenger security system (ESTA) for all travellers to United States requiring visas as extension of 2001 anti-terrorist measures
12 January As part of financial restructuring, Italian airline Alitalia announced tie up with Air France and KLM with new partners taking 25% of Alitalia shares
15 January Airbus A320 made safe emergency landing with no loss of life or injuries on Hudson River, New York, after bird strike caused both engines to fail soon after takeoff from La Guardia Airport
15 January Airbus announced 42% drop in 2008 plane orders and Boeing announced 53% drop due to higher costs of aviation fuel and worsening economic climate
15 January UK government approved plans for construction of third runway (2200 m) at London’s Heathrow Airport
17 January President-elect Obama arrived in Washington by special train from Philadelphia prior to inauguration
18 January Oldest (1936) in-service EF55-1 electric locomotive nicknamed Moomin retired by JR East after sayonara run on Joshu Line following restoration by JNR in 1986 despite prior withdrawal from service in 1964
22 January UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction announced victims of natural disasters in 2008 reached 235,816, slightly less than 241,647 victims of Sumatran tsunami in 2004, comprised mostly of 138,366 victims of Myanmar cyclone and 87,476 victims of Sichuan earthquake
22 January Bus struck overturned truck on expressway in Jiangxi Province, China, killing 8 people onboard
25 January Heavily overloaded, 20-m wooden boat rated for 20 passengers sank in Saigon River, central Hanoi, Viet Nam, drowning 40 people with 36 rescued and some others missing
26 January Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism started flight testing at Shizuoka Airport scheduled for opening on 4 June
27 January Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) announced figures for inbound tourism of 8.351 million (0.1% year on-year increase) and for outbound tourists of 15.987 million (7.6% year-on-year decrease)
28 January Automobile and medium-sized passenger bus collided in Jilin Province, China, killing 22 people and injuring seven others
30 January JAL successfully completed test flight between Tokyo and Sendai with Boeing B747-300 running 1 of 4 engines on 50% mixture of aviation fuel and bio fuel
30 January Dominican Republic in Caribbean opened first 14.5-km line of subway running north–south in capital Santa Domingo to be followed by 6 more lines by 2026
30 January Bus carrying Chinese tourists overturned in southern Arizona, USA, killing 7 people and injuring 16 others
31 January

Large fire started by fireworks in nightclub in Fujian Province, China, left 17 people dead and 20 others Injured

31 January Gasoline being stolen from tanker overturned on main road in southwest Guinea caught fire and exploded, killing 111 people

3 February Bus overturned into 4-m ravine in Inner Mongolia, China, killing 7 of 23 people onboard
4 February Large German railway operator Märklin announced court application to start bankruptcy proceedings despite restructuring by UK investment company in 2006
7 February
Small aircraft crashed into Amazon tributary in northern Brazil, killing 24 people onboard and leaving 4 Survivors
12 February Continental Airlines DHC8-400 crashed into houses near Buffalo, USA, killing 49 people onboard and 1 person on ground
12 February

Long-distance bus in Shanxi Province, China, ran off road and fell 20 m into drainage ditch, killing 10 people and injuring 16 others

12 February Medium-size bus ran off cliff road in Chongqing, China, killing 3 passengers and injuring 13 others
13 February

Express train derailed and overturned in Orissa State, India, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 40 others

13 February

LBritish Airways Avro RJ100 crashed on landing at London City Airport, UK, injuring 4 out of 71 people Onboard

16 February JR Central announced closure of Sakuma Rail Park in Hamamatsu City from 3 October 2009 with transfer of 16 pieces of historic rolling stock to new JR Central Museum (provisional name) opening in Nagoya in 2011
20 February Northwest Airlines B747-400 from Manila, Philippines, hit turbulence over Chiba Prefecture, Japan, injuring 43 out of 422 people onboard 22 February •Forest fires spread through Victoria State, Australia, killing 209 people and destroying over 1800 homes
23 February

Northwest Airlines B747-400 from Manila, Philippines, hit turbulence over Chiba Prefecture, Japan, injuring 43 out of 422 people onboard 22 February •Forest fires spread through Victoria State, Australia, killing 209 people and destroying over 1800 homes

24 February

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism approved railway business restructuring plan submitted by Fukui Railway, three trackside cities including Fukui City, and Fukui Prefecture as first approval based on legislation for revitalizing and reviving local public transport. This law enables local government to use third sector (public–private) railway business model with vertical separation following free transfer of railway land ownership, as well as receive national government assistance, such as subsidies and tax relief

25 February

Turkish Airways Boeing 737-800 crashed and broke apart on landing at Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands, killing 9 people including 3 crew members, and injuring 84 others

25 February

Passenger train derailed and fell 75 m from bridge into river in Kashmir, killing at least 33 people onboard and injuring 19 others

26 February   Jointly operated JR West and JR Kyushu trains running on section between Osaka and Kagoshima following 2011 full opening of Kyushu Shinkansen to be nicknamed Sakura, inheriting name of first 1929 express trains running between Tokyo and Shimonoseki

3 March Eurotunnel Group operating Channel Tunnel between UK and France announced final 2008 accounts with payment of first dividend since 1994 tunnel opening following small profit in 2007
5 March Laos opened first railway since end of WWII, linking Tanaren outside Laotian capital Vientiane with Nong Khai across Mekong River in Thailand using twice-daily,diesel, return services
5 March
Air France B777-200 flying from Paris to Narita, Japan, hit by turbulence over Niigata injuring 2 French cabin crew
8 March Ferry carrying foreign tourists sank in storm near Phuket Island, Thailand, leaving 7 people missing
10 March

Panamanian car transporter and Korean container ship collided near Izu Oshima Island south of Tokyo, leaving 16 crew missing after Korean vessel sank

10 March Panamanian car transporter and Korean container ship collided near Izu Oshima Island south of Tokyo, leaving 16 crew missing after Korean vessel sank
12 March

Sikorsky helicopter crashed into sea off Newfoundland, Canada, while en route to oil platform, leaving 16 of 18 people onboard missing, 1 dead and 1 rescued

16 March

JR Bus Kanto’s double-decker bus caught fire on Tomei Expressway in Shizuoka, Japan, but none of 78 people onboard injured

20 March Namba Line (3.8 km between Hanshin Nishi Kujo and Osaka Namba in Osaka Prefecture, Japan,) opened after construction by third-sector Nishi Osaka Express Railway as extension of Nishi Osaka Line to be operated by Hanshin and linking Sannomiya with Nara using through operations with Kintetsu
22 March Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12 crashed near Butte, Montana, USA, killing all 14 people on board
23 March

MD-11 Federal Express cargo plane crashed on landing during strong winds at Narita Airport, Japan, killing both flight crew

23 March

Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism approved delayed 4-June opening of 300-m shorter runway at Shizuoka Airport following problems with high trees at west end of originally planned 2500-m runway

24 March

IATA announced expected 12% drop in income of world’s air carriers for FY2009 due to world business recession with expected losses of $4.7 billion, improvement from loss of ¥8.5 million of last year

24 March

JR Central announced spring 2010 start of TOICA electronic wallet service and compatibility with JR East’s Suica and JR West’s ICOCA cards 26 March •Bus collided head-on with heavy truck east of Moscow, Russia, killing at least 25 people and injuring 4 others

27 March JR Central announced summer establishment of project to export high-speed shinkansen technologies overseas while JR East also announced April establishment of project to promote overseas railway business
27 March Dam collapsed after heavy rains south of Jakarta, Indonesia, flooding downstream villages and killing at least 96 people with more than 130 others still unaccounted
29 March Wall collapsed at entrance to football stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, during World Cup elimination game, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 130 others
31 March JR Freight closed Hokuriku branch Tsuruga Port Line (2.7 km between Tsuruga and Tsuruga Port), ending line’s 127-year history and Tsuruga Port Station’s role from 1912 as Japan terminus of Trans-Siberian Railway linking Europe with Asia

1 April Helicopter returning from North Sea oil platform crashed into sea 20 km off Scottish coast, killing 8 of 16 people onboard and leaving other 8 missing
4 April Pilot of light aircraft died suddenly while flying in S.Florida, USA, and control tower talked 1 of 4 passengers with flight experience through safe plane landing
13 April
Small boat struck bridge pier under construction in estuary in northwest Florida, USA, killing 5 of 12 people onboard and injuring 7 others
14 April Fishing boat (135 tonnes) overturned and sank off Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, leaving 12 of 22 people onboard missing after other 10 rescued
14 April

Truck collision and multiple pileup on expressway linking Hangzhou with Shanghai, China, left 4 of 9 people in one vehicle dead and 9 others injured

16 April US President Obama announced plan to build high-speed railway network linking major US cities centred on California as well as 6 other east and midwest lines, using $8 billion from Recovery Act plus another $5 billion over 5 years from supplementary government funds
17 April

Light aircraft crashed into houses in Fort Lauderdale,Florida, USA, killing pilot but not injuring anyone on Ground

19 April

Large tourist bus caught fire on Matsuyama Expressway,Aiichi Prefecture, Japan, but all 21 passengers escaped Unharmed

19 April Armed man hijacked flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica, to Canada but arrested with no harm done to released 176 passengers and 6 crew hostages
20 April Freight truck overturned in Maharashtra State, India, killing 19 people riding on back of truck and injuring 17 others
24 April

Air Canada Boeing 777 flying from Sydney, Australia,to Vancouver, Canada, hit air turbulence, injuring 11passengers and crew

24 April

Crane collapsed from 37-storey building in Taipei,Taiwan, crushing Chinese tourist bus, killing 2 people and injuring 3 others

28 April

Tourist bus overturned on expressway in central California, USA, killing 4 of 36 people onboard and injuring remaining 32

29 April

World’s largest, single-arch span Chaotianmen Yangtze River Bridge opened in Chongqing, China, with total length of 4881 m and central arch span of 552 m between piers


Hiroshi Kawakami appointed Vice-President of Central Japan International Airport. Joined Toyota Motors in 1972 after graduating from Faculty of Law at Kyoto University, becoming Vice-President of Toyota Tsusho Corporation in June 2008. Current President Yoshimi Inage returns to Toyota Motor Corporation.

JR East Vice-Chairman Yoshio Ishida appointed UIC Chairman (Head Office: Paris) on 1 April 2009 until December 2010 as first Japanese to hold post since UIC was founded in 1922

Nagoya Railroad Vice-President Ado Yamamoto appointed President from next business term. Joined Nagoya Railroad in 1971 after graduating in politics and economics from Nagoya University. Held various senior posts before appointment as Vice-President in 2008. Current President Eiichiro Kimura to become Representative Chairman and current Chairman Misao Kimura to become Senior Advisor

Mamoru Takiyama (JNR Chief Engineer) died 7 April 2009 aged 99 years. Joined Ministry of Railways after graduating in civil engineering from Tokyo Imperial University in 1932. Appointed JNR Managing Director in 1960 and retired in 1963 to later become JNR Chief Engineer from 1973 to 1979 after holding posts as Managing Executive Officer and Senior Executive Officer at Kajima Construction. Also held posts as Chairman of Japan Society of Civil Engineers and Board Chairman of Japan Railway Technical Service

Keio Railway Managing Director Tadashi Nagata appointed next President from June 2009. Joined forerunner of Keio Railway in 1974 after graduating in law from Rikkyo University. Appointed Director in 2004 before current posting in 2007. Current President Kan Kato to become Representative Chairman