Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 14 (Front cover & p.3)

Front Cover

Photo: JR East trainees learning reservation system
(JR East)


Human Factors

Although technical achievements in recent decades have improved productivity remarkably, the railway still remains very much a labour-intensive industry. Today's highly-developed railway operations require both skilled workers, and well-organized teamwork. In other words, modern railways still depend heavily on human resources. Despite highly-advanced safety devices, there are still accidents caused by human error. No matter how equipment is improved, this loophole leads to fatal accidents. The railway was once the most advanced industry and attracted talented workers whose skills made up for the lack of sophisticated devices. Today, the railway has difficulty recruiting the brightest and best, but the quality of the work force is even more important in maintaining services.
The quality of managers and union leaders is another important factor in the railway's future, because railways worldwide badly need far-sighted brilliant leaders to survive in the rapidly-changing business world.
The human factor remains a continuing challenge for railways.
T. Suga