Subway Pushers of Japan

Encore post.

The Japanese rail network is known throughout the world for its superiority and punctuality. In the capital city Tokyo, nearly 40 million passengers ride the rail every day, heavily outweighing other modes of transport like buses and private cars. Of these, 22% or 8.7 million take the subway.

The Tokyo subway network is a transportation marvel. On most lines, trains come every 5 minutes apart, on average, and during peak times, they tend to run every 2-3 minutes. That’s about 24 trains per hour going in one direction. Despite so many trains, the subway is extremely overcrowded, especially during rush hour. This page from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has data (from 2007) detailing the level of congestion at different stations of Tokyo’s subway. As you can see, nearly all of them run at over capacity with a few running at 200% over rated capacity.


“Oshiya” or “pushers” at Tokyo’s Shinjuku station trying to pack as many passengers as possible into the carriages during rush hour in 1967. Photo credit: CNN

Just like sardines.

In order to fit twice the number of passengers into a subway carriage, the stations employ uniformed staff known as oshiya or “pusher”, whose goal is to cram as many people as possible into the subway tram. These white glove-wearing personal actually pushes people into the train, so the doors can be shut. This is so surreal, it has to be seen to be believed.


When pushers were first brought in at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, they were called “passenger arrangement staff” and were largely made up of students working part-time. Nowadays, there are no dedicated “pushers”. The station staff and part-time workers fill these roles during rush hours.

Although a Japanese phenomenon now, subway pushers were an American invention and originated in New York City, nearly a century ago. They were not very well-liked because they were known to push and shove passengers with hostility. The vigor with which the guards often did their job earned them the reputation as “sardine packers”. Their brutality sometimes made national headlines. “The Anxious Subway Guard Who Guillotines His Passengers” —screamed a headline, and “Long Suffering New York Subway Riders Cheer Man Who Hit Guards” —reported another.

Pushers became out of fashion with the introduction of automatic door controls and automatic turnstiles. As the sadistic sardine packers began to lose their job in the 1920s, their demise were mourned briefly. Several movies about subway workers came out during this period including Subway Sadie (1926), Wolf’s Clothing (1927), The Big Noise (1928), Love Over Night (1928) and so on. Subway pushers were also depicted in a 1941 biographical movie called Pusher — the story takes place during World War 1.

More recently, in 2012, Hong Kong- based photographer Michael Wolf created a photo series named Tokyo Compression, where he captured the traumatized and pained expression of commuters as their faces were crushed against the windows. These pictures show how horrible and shameful the situation inside the subway is. Bodies are squished so tightly against one another that most people can’t physically move. Short persons suffer the risk of getting smothered against the coat of their fellow passenger. Getting off at the right station require strength and determination, and fire hazards and emergency evacuation are serious issues. The subways are also fertile grounds for pickpockets and gropers.


Japanese commuters wait in line for the next train, while people pushers push passengers onto the Yamanote line subway train during the morning rush hour at Shinjuku station in Tokyo, Japan. The daily ritual is performed to maximize the number of commuters on trains.

Japanese commuters wait in line for the next train, while people pushers push passengers onto the Yamanote line subway train during the morning rush hour at Shinjuku station in Tokyo, Japan. The daily ritual is performed to maximize the number of commuters on trains.

“Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle.” Plato.

The very rare 1980 4-door Chevrolet Corvette

Back in 1980, California Custom Coachworks did a limited run of just five Chevrolet Corvette sedans for customers (a total of six were produced, one of them being a prototype). They took the stock body Corvettes, lengthened them by 30 inches, adding a significant 500-lb weight gain to the body. The result however was a very rare four-door Corvette that featured four seats and a very peculiar design.


There is something just not right about this.


Countries with the largest railway networks

RankCountryRailway length
Date of
NotesElectrified length
Historic peak length
Area (km2) per km trackPopulation per km trackNationalized or Private
1 United States250,0002014 <1,600409,00043.711,373Private
2 China121,0002015 65,000Present length79.3111,218Nationalized
3 India1150002016 27,99948.3417,796Nationalized
4 Russia86,0002013 “Commercial operational length”(50,000)
not verified
5 Canada46,5522008 129214.48716Private
6 Germany43,4682010 19,97358,2978.221,881Nationalized
7 Australia38,4452008 2,715199.94572Both
8 Argentina36,9662008 13647,00077.451117Nationalized
9 South Africa31,0002014not verified24,80039.391,742Nationalized
10 France29,6402008 15,14021.532201Nationalized
11 Brazil29,303(2012)1,520285.576397Private
12 Japan27,1822009 16,70216.105451Both
13 Italy24,179(2007)16,68312.462507Both
14 Ukraine22,300(2010)9,75227.072048Nationalized
15 Romania22,298(2008)3,97110.69854Both
16 Poland19,627(2008)17,358about 24000 before 198915.931946Nationalized
17 United Kingdom17,732(2008)5,32834,000 (before Beeching axe)15.003825Both (Franchised)
18 Mexico17,1662008 22114.436,697Private
19 Spain15,947(2012) 9,62333.553062Nationalized
20 Kazakhstan15,372(2010) 4,000180.711,171Nationalized


The Big Glorious Steamers

full size

I heard the sounds of locomotion
and a whistle’s plaintive cry
of weakness, but the wheels were turning.
Steel on steel the sole reply.

The sounds of force accelerating
rhythmically as drums would play
recalled a light and tender time,
though made of steel the permanent way,

when near a depot long abandoned,
waiting for a passing train,
a child would sit alone for hours
just to hear the steel refrain.

I heard the sounds of locomotion
carrying a longing man
with freight and cargo to a place that
rails of steel alone could span.




“I looked out of the train,
And I suddenly saw the empty station
As we hurtled through, with a hollow roar . . .
‘Harviston End’ . . . It was dark and dead”

A quiet hymn to all that we’ve lost. It’s all here, the sights, sounds and smells of a country station about to close. I’ve searched my railway book shelves to see if Harviston End existed, but it appears not. But the word ‘end’ in the title goes much further than the white-pebbled station name.




Lost Tracks of Time


I took a freight train to be my friend, O lord,
You know I hoboed, hoboed, hoboed,
Hoboed a long long way from home, O lord,



train12 The Cincinnatian Baltimore and Ohio steam locomotive 1956

The Cincinnatian, Baltimore and Ohio steam locomotive 1956.


train14 Belgian “Atlantic” class steam locomotive, built in 1939 for the Brussels-to- Ostend run

Belgium Atlantic Class steam locomotive, built 1939 Brussels to Ostend run.

train15 Mallard. The worlds fastest steam locomotive, at 125.88mph. Not the prettiest steam engine I've ever seen, but its wonderful that we can make a kettle go that fast... england

The Mallard. World’s fastest steam locomotive timed at 125 miles per hour, Doncaster, England.



Cass Shay #5, #11, #6 running full throttle

Virginia coal train

trainDurango Silverton Line, North of Durango, CO

Durango Silverton line Colorado

Driver, 94, pleads guilty in death of neighbour

A 94-year-old Winnipeg man has pleaded guilty to killing his elderly neighbour by accidentally driving his car over him.

Edward Hudek admitted earlier this week to a Highway Traffic Act charge of backing a vehicle without due care. He was given a $1,000 fine and two-year driving prohibition.

Frederick Albert Tippen, 86, died in April 2010 after being struck by Hudek’s rented Suzuki SX4 in the parking lot of a St. Vital seniors residence.

Hudek, who has no prior criminal or driving record, told police he heard “knocking at the side of his car” as he reversed out of a stall. He then got out, saw nothing but went inside the Dakota House assisted living facility and told a staff member he might have “bumped into somebody.”

Police and paramedics arrived to find Tippen trapped underneath the vehicle, which had to be lifted to free him. The unconscious man was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead.

“This is a tragic, isolated incident in his life,” defence lawyer Martin Glazer told court.

Hudek surrendered his licence following the tragedy and has not driven since. He also wrote a letter of apology to Tippen’s family.

Glazer said his client was unfamiliar with the rental car and may not have seen Tippen in his blind spot while backing out.

The case has raised questions about how society handles a growing number of aging motorists. The ranks of seniors behind the wheel are expanding as baby boomers age, according to Manitoba Public Insurance.

In 1994, there were more than 80,000 Manitobans 65 and older with a valid driver’s licence, MPI said. In 2010, about 103,600 — 14 per cent — of the nearly 740,000 licensed drivers provincewide were 65 or older. It’s estimated 21 per cent of drivers in Manitoba will be over 65 by 2025.

Therefore driver testing for people who reach the age of 80 should be mandatory every 18 months.  If these people can’t pass the test they can start taking cabs if they live in the city.  If they live in rural areas they can move into an old folks complex.  Friends and support staff will be there to help with the shopping, errands and appointments.

And it is not just the other drivers on the road that can be traumatized by bad senior citizen drivers, passengers are often affected as well.

Shopping can be provided by friends or companies that provide such services.  Making it less hazardous in the parking lots.

Property damage, injuries and tying up the police could all be reduced if people in their later golden years had to take the mandatory drivers test.

Australian Cattle Hauling Road Trains

A road train or land train is a trucking vehicle of a type used in remote areas of Argentina, Australia, Mexico, the United States, and Canada to move freight efficiently. The term road train is most often used in Australia. In the United States, the terms triplesturnpike doubles, and Rocky Mountain doubles are commonly used for longer combination vehicles (LCVs). A road train has a relatively normal tractor unit, but instead of towing one trailer or semi-trailer, it pulls two or more of them.

Australia has the largest and heaviest road-legal vehicles in the world, with some configurations topping out at close to 200 tonnes (197 long tons; 220 short tons). The majority are between 80 and 120 t (79 and 118 long tons; 88 and 132 short tons).

Double (two-trailer) road train combinations are allowed in most areas of Australia, and within the environs (albeit limited) of Adelaide, South Australia and Perth, Western Australia. A double road train should not be confused with a B-double, which is allowed access to most of the country and in all major cities.

Here is one rolling through a flooded road


Triple (three-trailer) road trains operate in western New South Wales, western Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, with the last three states also allowing AB-quads (B double with two additional trailers coupled behind). Darwin is the only capital city in the world where triples and quads are allowed to within 1 km (0.62 mi) of the central business district (CBD). Tasmania and Victoria do not allow the operation of road trains on any of their roads. Victoria had previously allowed double road trains to operate around Mildura for the vintage grape harvest.

Strict regulations regarding licensing, registration, weights, and experience apply to all operators of road trains throughout Australia.

Road trains are used for transporting all manner of materials: common examples are livestock, fuel, mineral ores, and general freight. Their cost-effective transport has played a significant part in the economic development of remote areas; some communities are totally reliant on regular service.

The multiple dog-trailers are unhooked, the dollys removed and then connected individually to multiple trucks at “assembly” yards when the road train gets close to populated areas.

When the flat-top trailers of a road train need to be transported empty, it is common practice to stack them. This is commonly referred to as “doubled-up” or “doubling-up”. See illustration. Sometimes, if many trailers are required to be moved at one time, they will be triple-stacked, or “tripled-up”.

Higher Mass Limits (HML) Schemes are now piloting in all jurisdictions in Australia, allowing trucks to carry additional weight.


Road trains arrives at Helen Springs Cattle Station, north of Tennant Creek NT.


The cattle are loaded onto the road train for their journey to Longreach QLD.


The Road Train then leaves on its long trip.

Interesting statistics.    
*There are 17 trucks with 3 trailers and 2 decks per trailer; that’s 102 decks of cattle.

*Approximately 28 cattle per deck; A total of 2,856 head of cattle. 
*The cattle will weigh approximately 500kg each (1102.3 lbs.) 
*The sale price for cattle at Longreach is approx. 165c/kg (75c/lb.) 
*Each animal will therefore be sold at $825. 
*Total revenue from this analysis is $2.356.200 
*TYRES; Each truck has 2 front and 8 rear tyres, first trailer has 12 tyres and is dollied to the truck.

*2nd & 3rd trailers have 8 tyres at the front and 12 at the rear, that’s 20 tyres each. 
*Each truck has 62 tyres, that’s a total of 1.054 on the road. A lot of tyres!!!


Australian cattle at stockyards in Rockhampton, Queensland.