Railway companies in Japan go high-tech to beat the heat ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Railway companies are stepping up their efforts to beat the heat, in response to a series of passengers suffering heatstroke in trains and stations.

With the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics set for next summer, railway companies operating in the Tokyo metropolitan area are using cutting-edge technology such as automatically turning up air conditioners near busy stations or adopting special window glass to shut out ultraviolet rays.

One morning in early July, the interior of a train on the JR Yamanote Line was hot and humid due to the mass of passengers. However, as the train approached Ikebukuro, one of Tokyo’s biggest terminal stations, it gradually became cooler.

The air conditioning in a train is usually set at a certain temperature. But starting three years ago East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) has used big data regarding the number of passengers in different times and zones to introduce train cars that automatically lower the temperature of air conditioners before trains arrive at busy stations where many people will get on. The trains also choose the appropriate temperature based on the combined weight that passengers exert on the floor.

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