[MLIT] The Use of Unstaffed Station - Interim Summary of Opinions Exchange Released

On 24 September 2021, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) released the interim summary of the opinions exchanged between disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs), railway operators, and the MLIT on the safe and smooth use of stations when stations are unstaffed. The interim summary was approved at the fifth exchange meeting held on the same day.

The increasing unstaffed stations and stations not staffed at certain times of the day are recent issues, and  DPOs have given requests for the safe and smooth use of stations to the MLIT. The MLIT established this meeting to hear opinions from both DPOs and railway companies in order to consider future initiatives.

The first meeting was held on 6 November 2020, and five meetings have been held so far. The members of the exchange meeting are the Japan Federation of the Visually Impaired, the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, the Japan National Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International, the National Council of Independent Living Centers, railway companies (6 JR companies, 16 major private railway companies), the Japan Private Railways Association, and the MLIT’s Railway Bureau.

The interim summary outlines the following actions required of railway operators.

1.Providing appropriate guidance and information to people with disabilities

  • The necessity of proper guidance to station service equipment for the visually impaired
  • Railway operators should consider developing an environment, in which persons with visual impairment can be appropriately guided, by guide blocks, etc., to station service equipment such as intercoms, ticket vending machines, ticket gates, and to the direction of train doors.
  • In addition to the above-mentioned measures, with the cooperation of station users, railway operators should consider intangible measures such as the implementation of a "call out and support" campaign etc.
  • The necessity of providing text information for people with deafness and hard of hearing

Railway operators should consider:

  • Visual display facilities to enable passengers to gather appropriate information
  • Improving communications with station staff at ticket booths etc.
  • An environment where passengers can get the information timely and appropriately in the event of transport disruption or other emergencies
  • Implementing intangible measures such as a "call out and support" campaign with the cooperation of station users
  • A contact point to receive inquiries from people with disabilities
  • Railway operators should consider creating an environment in which people with disabilities can easily make inquiries.

2.Sharing information of passenger's prior notice requesting assistance with the relevant railway operators

  • Even in cases where no prior contact was given from passengers, railway operators should make effort as much as possible to give assistance to them and minimize their waiting time.
  • Railway operators should have the stance such as not refusing to use a station simply because it is unstaffed. 

3.Train crews will be able to use portable ramps to assist passengers getting on and off the train.

  • Railway operators should consider introducing this service as soon as possible to provide an environment where a passenger in a wheelchair can use the railway without prior notice.

For more information, please visit the website below (Japanese).