Report: U.S. high-speed rail can learn from Japan's early-warning earthquake system

Posted on May 6, 2015


As California and other states move forward with high-speed rail plans, some have questioned the system's ability to withstand earthquakes. This is especially critical in California, an active quake zone. A new peer-reviewed research report from the Mineta Transportation Institute says that valuable lessons are easily adapted from Japan's successes with its early earthquake warning (EEW) systems.

The report, “Great East Japan Earthquake, JR East Mitigation Successes and Lessons for California High-Speed Rail,” is available for free download.

The principal investigators were Frances Edwards, PhD, and Daniel C. Goodrich, MPA, working with an academic and professional research team.

JR East, a Japanese rail company, has developed systems to mitigate the damage to its facilities and personnel, including an early earthquake detection system, retrofitting existing facilities for seismic safety, developing more seismically resistant designs for new facilities, and holding earthquake response training and exercises for company staff.

"These systems demonstrated their value in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and have been further developed based on that experience," said Dr. Frances Edwards, one of the report’s principal investigators. "Researchers in California are developing an EEW system for the state, and the private sector has seismic sensors in place. These technologies could contribute to the safety of the California High-Speed Rail Authority's developing system, which could emulate Japan's best practices."

A rendering of the California High-Speed Rail sytem
A rendering of the California High-Speed Rail sytem
The JR East EEW system stops the train, prompting a response from passengers and staff. Detailed staff training in Japan was largely responsible for the subsequent lifesaving activities that moved passengers and staff out of harm's way. There were no passenger or crew deaths on any JR East trains, including the bullet trains. For this report, the types of training and exercise activities used in Japan are evaluated for applicability to California rail systems.

That disaster's impact and its three-fold aspects (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear event) also provided valuable information for the California High-Speed Rail Authority's (CHSRA) system. The insights will be leveraged and adapted to build greater safety for passengers and crew.

The report explains the physics of seismic events before delving into the evolution of warning systems. It also describes the extensive training that JR East provides for its employees so they can assist during a disaster.

JR East provided reports rarely available to Western researchers on EEW system performance; seismic resistance and resilience research related to columns, piers and bridges; and staff training. The authors conducted extensive EEW research through the Berkeley Seismic Laboratory, at the sites of existing installed EEW systems, and structural engineering research on seismic resistance through private engineering activities.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

LA Metro unveils new tunnel boring machine named Angeli

At the event Board Chair Fasana awarded TAP Cards to students who won contests to name the TBM and create an illustration for its tail shield.

Bombardier confirms progress on turnaround plan

The actions support the company’s efforts to build its earnings growth potential and highlight its focus on improving productivity, reducing costs, and optimizing its worldwide footprint to deliver increased value to customers and shareholders.

BYD enters mass transit market with low-cost train

The light rail technology is applicable to small and medium-sized cities, heavy traffic routes, CBD’s and routes connecting tourist attractions in large cities, according to the company.

MBTA forgives $839K in fines stemming from 2015 winter performance

According to the report, the company said that the forgiven fines regarded maintenance issues, and that the MBTA agreed to waive them amid evidence that maintenance workers were pulled from their regular jobs to help shovel off tracks and shorten delays.

Brookville set to deliver second QLine streetcar

Each red and white streetcar will seat 125 passengers and feature Wi-Fi, vertical bicycle racks, and an HVAC unit. M-1 officials said that its delivery schedule and testing remain on schedule, with track testing set to begin later this fall.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close