Indian Railways sends team to Japan to learn Clinical Efficiency for Bullet Train

NEW DELHI: Cleaning trains in seven minutes flat and passengers with minimum baggage are what Indian railway officials are hoping to replicate in the country’s bullet train project to ensure the famous clinical efficiency of Japan’s Shinkansen trains.

Indian officials said the technology apart, the calm efficiency of workforce in Japan was the reason behind the reliability of its high speed network. They are hoping that the 300-odd employees, to be sent to Japan for training, will bring back these lessons for use at home.

“It was amazing how it took the cleaning crew exactly seven minutes to clean up the train. Everything here is precise, with no extra movements. One can hardly see any passenger with more than one bag or anyone using the overhead luggage storage space.

“It is this that we want to replicate because it ensures minimum waste of time whether in boarding or de-boarding,” said Brijesh Dixit General Manager, National High Speed Rail Corporation which is implementing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

Speaking on the sidelines of the International High Speed Rail Association conference here, Dixit said Indians needed to replicate this attitude.

“They truly challenge the limits of what a human being can do. We need to create this attitude in India. Our officials who are being trained in Japan are closely studying these aspects and hopefully they will help replicate this discipline in India,” said Dixit.

Passengers on board Shinkansen trains, which are called bullet trains in India, mostly travel with just their handbags. They queue up in time before the train arrives and let those on board alight first.

The cleaning crew on the high speed trains are called the ‘seven minute miracle workers’ – of the 12 minutes in which a train is supposed to be in and out of the platform, two minutes are designated for passengers to alight and three more for waiting group to get aboard, leaving only seven minutes in between for cleaning.

“India should immediately begin training its workforce and create a support system for their high speed project. The success of the Japanese network is not just because of the technology, but also because of its people.

“It is dependent on its workers who clean the train, however dirty it is in seven minutes, or the drivers who at the cost of being laughed at shout out their every move to increase their efficiency.

“Even the passengers who travel with just their handbags are to be credited for it as they can get in and out of trains with ease. India has to adopt this to succeed,” Professor Roderick Smith of Imperial College London who is also the Chair of the Future Railway Research Centre told PTI.

Smith points out that in Japan it is a rare sight to see passengers dragging luggage while on the streets or in trains.

They use the one of its kind system, ‘takkyubin’ where a customer’s luggage is picked up and dropped at pre-decided destinations at their convenience. There are pick up services even for the airport, Smith said.

“Sometimes, if the person is not at home, the package is delivered to the nearest convenience store where it can be picked up. It’s of course completely reliable. In your country as in mine, systems such as these needs to be developed to ensure that the benefits of high speed trains are maximised,” said Smith.

The over-all system ensures that the average delay in running Shinkansen trains in Japan is around 60 seconds, including the delays incurred during natural calamities.