A Japanese rail company has defended a controversial training scheme that requires staff to sit between tracks as trains travel past at 200mph.
Employees for JR West crouch in a one metre by one metre trench between the tracks and tuck themselves in as up to three bullet trains speed past, to give them an impression of the forces at work.
JR West introduced the practice in 2016 to show employees the importance of train inspections and safety, following an accident in 2015 where part of the exterior of a train fell off in transit.
However, employees have reportedly complained about the unusual exercise.
The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper quoted one staff member as saying: “It was a horrible experience.”
Approximately 190 staff working in Hiroshima and Kitakyushu prefectures have taken part in the scheme, with one participant likening the experience to a public flogging, according to the Mainichi Daily.
Despite calls from employees, JR West has refused to halt the exercise.
Speaking to AFP, a spokesman said: “We pay close attention to safety while doing the training… we will continue this training while ensuring it serves a purpose and is done safely.”
Japan’s train network has developed a reputation for punctuality.
In November 2017, the Metropolitan Intercity Railway apologised for a train departing 20 seconds earlier than scheduled, despite receiving no complaints for the oversight.
Despite trains regularly travelling over 200mph (300km/h), the Shinkansen, or bullet train, network also has an exceptional safety record, with no crash-related fatalities recorded in over fifty years of service.