Disability groups repeat concerns as a JR Kyushu Station becomes ‘unmanned’

Written with extracts from The West Japan Shimbun

March 18th 2018

On March 17th it was announced that with the new financial year, Maki station of Nikko Line (Oita-shi) will be unmanned . Smart support stations (SSS) with remotely controlled cameras and intercoms will be introduced, but there are still concerns from organizations with disabilities.

“The express train passes. Around noon the same day,”  Mr. Hinako (63), a guide clerk, said. Mr. Hinako is currently the station manager. until the end of March, he provides guidance on the equipment and ticket vending machines that will be available at the station once it becomes a SSS.

A further 7 stations may become ‘unmanned’ in the future, but there are demands from disabled people and citizens groups for a review of the policy.  Junichi Yuzawa who has a visual impairment always has a  fear of falling  on to the tracks at the station. “It will be hard to use as it becomes increasingly frightening when there are no station staff who will immediately help,” he said.

The Prefectural Deaf Association says not only is voice necessary but also requires the introduction of remote sign language interpretation service. Association president Tsutomu Nishimura said, “We depend on character information that we see with eyes, they will have received requests and will continue to receive requests from people with disabilities.

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