Monday, November 7, 2011

Photographer's "traumatic train"

This photo by Chris Edwards of Leicestershire, U.K., dramatically illustrates the human side of the transportation crisis in Tokyo as a result of the March 2011 earthquake. The transportation crisis was the subject of “How a Shaken City Kept Steady Nerves,” which appeared in the fall 2011 issue of InTransition. Here’s how Edwards described the scene when he posted the photo to Flickr:

I was on board a train in Tokyo yesterday when the big earthquake struck, I was unbelievably scared, I still now don't understand why the train didn't derail completely.

We was evacuated from the train once the main earthquakes stopped and then after a couple of hours or so of walking we found refuge in a hotel basement, where I still remain, although I have a room now. A very wobbly one though, 9 floors up and we're still having quakes.

In a subsequent email correspondence, Edwards related that while, in the end, the city of Tokyo coped with the many challenges posed by the earthquake —including avoiding the loss of life or serious injuries when the transit system shut down —living through the experience left passengers very much “shaken”:

We were on a very traumatic train for 90 minutes with very little information offered. When we eventually got evacuated, the station we walked to was in turmoil. Nobody knew what to do or where to go and the transport authorities were offering no information other than handing out maps.

Whilst we were in that station more earthquakes hit and masonry was falling around us. The roads were gridlocked for many, many hours. Over the next few days the railways were shut down at random intervals with very little warning leaving massive queues for taxis and gridlocked roads again.

The place was in chaos.

That said, we were travelling at a high speed and the speed the train network shut down was very impressive.

Other photos by Edwards on Japan and other subjects can be seen at:

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