Asia Life

Japanese Super-Commuters Save Woman During Rush Hour

Japanese commuters literally moved a train to free a woman who was stuck between it and the platform.

Jonathan DeHart

Who knew Japanese commuters had superhero-like powers?

On Monday, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that amid the mad dash that is Japanese rush hour, around 40 commuters and station staff literally pushed a train carriage away from the train platform to free a woman who slipped into the eight-inch gap between the train and platform just north of Tokyo in Minami Urawa station, Saitama prefecture.

Now that the commuters have gone on their way, including the unlucky woman in question, it’s worth considering just how unlikely this rescue was. While the suspension system of the train gave the train carriage some room to move, the amazing feat cannot be understated. The action literally required the commuters to move 32 tons of steel. Further, the unnamed woman in her 30s came away from the harrowing ordeal unscathed.

Many were happy just to see some positive news coverage coming from Japan.

One tweeted: “The good side of Japanese society. There must have been people who were frustrated as it was the morning rush hour. Good there was no injury.”

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Another said: “Perhaps Japan is not damned after all.”

Similar to stories of people tapping into wells of seemingly superhuman strength to lift cars in order to save someone trapped beneath – as this 22-year-old woman did to save her 52-year-old father trapped beneath a BMW 525i in Virginia last year – it follows that a team of around 40 pushing with all of their strength would be able to do similar when confronted with a train carriage.

To be precise, Michael Regnier, professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington, told NBC that most people “can lift six to seven times their body weight.” Around 20 years ago, Regnier, a weightlifter in the past, spotted a man alongside the Los Angeles freeway whose car had crashed. The man lay slumped over his steering wheel and Regnier stopped instinctively to help. He soon discovered that the door had caved in, but no matter. He simply tore it off the car to pull the man out.

Lifting cars, ripping steel doors from their hinges and now perhaps the most epic of all in Japan this week: pushing a train carriage. Perhaps the most miraculous detail of all: the train was only delayed eight minutes.