by Dee Finney

The Toy Train - A Dream - 12-11-99

I was walking through a large park-like area with some kids and there was a toy train being pulled along on a string. The cars were colorful, blue, green, and red with yellow balloon-like wheels.

The train came off the tracks and then we found a bunch of train cars strung together, floating in deep water where the train had gone off a bridge.

My son Bill went into the water to get them because I couldn't reach them. He was knee deep in water, but I could see there was deeper water just a couple feet away.

He pulled the train out of the water.  We went further along in the park and the next scene is memory blocked from me. I keep thinking it's zoo-like cages, but can't remember the scene.

Then there was a scene where kids wearing khaki colored jump suits were all muddy and they poured  water over themselves to wash the mud off.  They sat down to relax and I said to a young round faced girl that perhaps she should put dry clothes on so she wouldn't freeze. She got made at me and told me not to tell her  what to do. I restated the suggestion using the words, "I suggest" you get dry clothes on so you don't freeze. Then she was satisfied that it was iindeed a suggestion and not an order and went to change clothes.

We then went to a room where I was going to read a picture book to some kids but the words were foreign sounding. A city name was long and started with the letter "P". A Japanese man stood to my left shoulder. A young girl began to read the words in Japanese. I was surprised that such a young child could read Japanese.

I was going to make lunch for them and saw some food on the counter including a white juice pitcher that was 32 ounces full of rice. There was also a  tiny Japanese Lantern shape refrigerator with small bottles of milk and juice in it.

I was delayed from warming up the rice when a short dark-haired woman rushed in and asked if she could run an experiment on the stove.

I said, "Okay!" and woke up.

I was laying there thinking about the toy train when I had a vision of a blue Christmas-type envelope. It was written in Japanese and had a stamp in the upper right hand corner with the number 10 on it.

Excerpted from a travel diary of a trip to Japan

Japanese train conductors have a disturbing tendency to leave the driver's seat to sell tickets throughout the train. Not unusual, when the train is stopped, but when the throttle is wide open one begs the question, "Who's driving this circus?", and the answer is, "Not even a chimpanzee". On the other hand, trains don't have steering wheels, so maybe that famous proverb doesn't apply...but what if the dude chokes on a peanut? It'd be Speed3.

Yeah, there's the ocean... . Somewhere out there's Soo-Chung was born. The mountains climb right-up from the sea. Thus we spend a lot of our time running right on the coast, or in tunnels. The highway, is actually in the ocean, elevated above the tide a few decametres.

Also impressed by Toyama park. It had a moat with a castle rising straight out of it. Not quite Matsumoto-jo, but a really cool place if you weren't expecting it. Among other things, they had a steam locomotive, numerous oversized statues, a lawn, and a crane in the ponds with plenty of carp and turtles. Gotta love those carp and turtles.

Wednesday March 8, 5:55 AM

Three die as Tokyo commuter trains collide

By Reed Stevenson

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Tokyo subway train derailed in the morning rush hour and collided with another that was crowded with commuters, ripping into its side and killing three people and injuring about 40, some seriously.

"Our train came to a sudden halt after a loud rattling. Then I saw on the train opposite us that there were people lying on the floor of one carriage and there was lots of blood," said a man in his early 20s who was on the train that derailed.

Authorities were unable to give the cause of the accident on Wednesday, the most serious incident on a subway system that serves the 12 million inhabitants of Japan's capital since a nerve gas attack by a doomsday cult killed 12 people in 1995.

A fire department official said three passengers were killed and seven seriously injured. More than 30 had less serious injuries.

Most of the injured were on the more crowded train, which had some 1,300 commuters on board. It was pulling out of Naka Meguro Station on the Hibiya subway line and travelling towards the city centre when it collided just after 9 a.m. (0000 GMT) with a train that had derailed as it approached the station, officials said.

About 240 people were on board the derailed train.

The number of injured was expected to rise as further details emerged, the fire official said.

"I felt a huge shock," said one passenger who was travelling on the derailed train a few carriages away from the most seriously damaged car, which was at the rear.

The sides were ripped off both trains. The floor of the crowded train was stained with blood, with red and blue seats strewn inside the carriage amid broken glass and debris.

The other train also had a large part of its side shorn off, leaving a mass of twisted metal.

Orange-suited rescue workers swarmed around the site as crowds of passengers whose trains had been stopped due to the accident huddled at the station in south-central Tokyo.

The fire department said 22 ambulances and 51 fire engines had rushed to the scene.

Top government spokesman Mikio Aoki ruled out the possibility that the crash had been deliberately caused.

"We were worried initially because it was possibly an explosion... But there is absolutely no evidence that it was an act of terrorism or that there was any criminal intent," he told a news conference.

Early reports had said an explosion had ripped through one of the trains. The line is shared by subways and surface trains travelling between Tokyo and its satellite port city of Yokohama.

Witnesses at the scene said the injured passengers, some bleeding, were being carried away on stretchers and taken to hospital. Names of some 10 to 15 injured passengers were being written on a blackboard at the site.

There have been few major train accidents in recent years in Japan, which has a good safety record for its railway network.

Japan's worst train accident occurred in 1963, when a speeding freight train crashed into a packed Tokyo commuter train that had derailed, killing 163 people.

In May 1991, 42 people were killed and 415 others injured when two crowded trains collided head-on between the ancient capital of Kyoto and the rural pottery town of Shigaraki in central Japan.

Train Derails in Japan, Killing at Least 50
Scores Injured as Apartment Building Hit




Rescue workers try to reach people trapped in the rubble of the derailed train.

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AMAGASAKI, Japan (April 25) - A packed commuter train jumped the tracks in western Japan on Monday and rammed into an apartment complex, crumpling passenger cars into twisted metal. At least 50 people were killed and 340 injured in the deadliest rail accident here in four decades.

Investigators immediately focused on whether excessive speed or the actions of the inexperienced driver caused the crash in an urban area near Amagasaki, about 250 miles west of Tokyo. The 23-year-old driver had overshot the stop line at the last station before the accident.

Rescuers were trying to free four people found alive in the wreckage more than nine hours after the crash, said Yoshiki Nishiyama of the Amagasaki fire department. They were trapped in one of the two worst-damaged cars, but their conditions were unknown.

The seven-car commuter train was carrying 580 passengers when it derailed at 9:18 a.m., wrecking an automobile in its path before slamming into a nine-story apartment complex just yards away. Two of the five derailed cars were flattened against the wall of the building, and hundreds of rescue workers and police swarmed the wreckage and tended to the injured.

''There was a violent shaking, and the next moment I was thrown to the floor ... and I landed on top of a pile of other people,'' passenger Tatsuya Akashi told NHK. ''I didn't know what happened, and there were many people bleeding.''

The Amagasaki Fire Department said at least 50 people were killed. It was not clear how many of the dead were passengers or if bystanders or apartment residents were among the victims. Train operator West Japan Railway Co. said at least 343 people had been taken to hospitals.

The accident was the worst rail disaster in nearly 42 years in Japan, which is home to one of the world's most complex and heavily traveled rail networks. A three-train crash in November 1963 killed 161 people in Tsurumi, outside Tokyo.

Monday's accident was under investigation. ''There are many theories but we don't know for sure what caused the accident,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said. ''The prime minister instructed us to respond with urgency.''

Survivors said the force of the derailment sent passengers tumbling through the inside of the cars. Photos taken by an NHK reporter aboard the train showed passengers piled on the floor and some clawing to escape from the busted shells of the cars. The derailed train cars had smashed into the first-floor parking garage of the apartment complex, NHK said.

Investigators struggled to come up with reasons for the crash. Tsunemi Murakami, the train operator's safety director, estimated that the train would have had to have been going 82 mph to have jumped the track purely because of excessive speed.

He said it still was not certain how fast the train was running at the time of the accident. The crash happened at a curve after a straightaway, requiring the driver to slow to a speed of 43 mph, Murakami said.

Experts also suspected speed was to blame.

''If the train hadn't hit anything before derailing ... the train was probably speeding. For the train to flip, it had to be traveling at a high speed. I would say it was going 50 kph (31 mph) above the speed limit,'' Kazuhiko Nagase, a Kanazawa Institute of Technology professor and train expert, told NHK.

The train operator apologized.

''Our most important task now is to rescue the passengers from the accident and we are doing our best,'' West Japan Railway Co. President Takeshi Kakiuchi told reporters.

NHK reported that the automatic braking system at that stretch of track is among the oldest in Japan. The system stops trains at signs of trouble without requiring drivers to take emergency action, but the older system is less effective in halting trains traveling at high speeds, NHK said.

The driver's inexperience may also have been a factor. He only had 11 months on the job. He had committed a previous overrun at a station in June 2004 and was issued a warning, officials said.

Authorities mobilized for a speedy rescue. The central government in Tokyo dispatched Self-Defense Force soldiers to the disaster scene to assist.

Deadly train accidents are rare in Japan. Five people were killed and 33 were injured in March 2000, when a Tokyo subway hit a derailed train. An accident killed 42 people in April 1991 in Shigaraki, western Japan.

04-25-05 05:54EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

Japan train crash death toll hits 103


THE death toll in Japanís worst rail crash in decades rose to 103 after rescuers found six more bodies today.

It came as the government said it may need to start certifying train drivers following suspicions that the inexperienced 23-year-old man at the helm was speeding.

The death toll was expected to rise further as rescuers reach bodies still trapped in the carriages which smashed into a block of flats in Amagasaki, about 250 miles west of Tokyo, on Monday.

THE death toll in Japan's worst train crash in four decades topped the 100 mark Thursday, with the discovery of seven more bodies bringing the death toll to 104, the fire department said.

Rescue workers crawling through the most mangled remains of the train wreck found the bodies of four women and three men Thursday morning, said a fire department official in the western city of Amagasaki.

He said 57 men and 47 women had been confirmed dead and that rescue operations would continue until any possible survivors from Monday's crash were found.

Police said Thursday they believed they had found the body of the 23-year-old driver of the commuter train.








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