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Monorail malfunction unnerves already apprehensive travelers

Date Posted: 2005-05-19

A careless Yuirail monorail train driver skipped a station, sending a ripple of fear to the morning rush hour commuters.

The monorail was enroute from Naha International Airport to Shuri Castle Station when, at 7:32am, the announcement came that the next stop wash Miebashi Station, located near the KDDI building on Highway 58 in Naha. The train stopped, but then…nothing. Passengers queued at the doors to exit, but nothing happened. Doors did not open, and there were no announcements. Instead, the monorail began moving forward toward Naha, picking up speed.

“Hey driver,” shouted one irate passenger as he banged on the cab window. “I wanted to get off at Miebashi Station. Stop this train. Stop, now!” The driver’s response: “What? Didn’t I open the door?” Other passengers said the driver didn’t notice at all that the doors were never opened, and one quizzed him on “what is the matter with you?” As the train stopped at the next station, many were angry and demanding explanations, listening to the driver ‘s apologetic “Oh, no. I am sorry. I did forget to open the doors.”

Yuirail riders say the driver appeared to be sleepy or tired, then lined up to take the monorail back to their Miebashi Station destinations. The driver reportedly has been reprimanded.

The incident came only days after a commuter train in mainland Japan, near Osaka, roared to high speeds before jumping the tracks and crashing into an apartment building killing more than 170 and injuring nearly 500. The train skipped its last scheduled station before roaring beyond 100kmh and crashing. Officials have placed the initial blame on the train driver, who had been admonished earlier for driving his train at excessive speeds.

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