On February 10th, the Oita District Court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by three wheelchair users in Oita City who claimed that they suffered from restrictions on their freedom of movement due to JR Kyushu’s decision to make its stations unmanned. The plaintiffs presented their views on JR Kyushu’s decision to make four new stations in the prefecture unmanned, and appealed to the court to “take a sincere look at its role as a public transportation system once again.
On the 24th, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism compiled a draft barrier-free measure to enable people with disabilities to get on and off smoothly at unmanned stations. If it is not possible to assign a staff member to assist wheelchair users in advance, the main suggestion is for drivers and conductors to get off the train and assist. Specific guidelines are to be established within the year.
The first oral argument in a lawsuit in which three people with disabilities in Oita City sought damages from JR Kyushu (Fukuoka City) was held at the Oita District Court on the 4th, alleging that the unmanned railway station violated freedom of movement.
Alarmed at the increasing number of stations without workers in his prefecture, causing inconvenience and possible safety concerns, three disabled people came together to file a lawsuit against Kyushu Railway at the Oita District Court in September.
“The number of “unmanned stations” without station staff all day long has risen to more than 4,500 stations, which is close to half of the stations nationwide, and is still increasing. Under such circumstances, there are issues such as assistance to people with disabilities, so the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has set up a study group and started discussions for improvement.”
“JR Kyushu is promoting the implementation of unmanned station in Oita city that discriminates against people with disabilities.
A civic group made up of people with disabilities and supporters will file a lawsuit seeking compensation from the Oita District Court on November 19th”