27.2.03

RULE 602 VIOLATION. A Tokyo-bound bullet train stopped short of the Okayama station account a sleeping engineer. The bullet trains are sufficiently automated that the engineer's responsibility is to acknowledge that the train is stopping and bring the train to a controlled stop. (Disregard references to "at the wheel" and to "apply the breaks." The controlled stop apparently involves a graduated release of the brakes. If the engineer neglects to hit the acknowledging button, the machinery continues a full-service brake application. On North American equipment, continuing that application for too long results in an emergency brake application.)

The engineer in question continued his run, accompanied by a Road Foreman of Engines. News reports Stateside mention an inquiry to determine whether or not the engineer violated any laws. Stateside, the 1986 version of the General Code of Operating Rules is clear: "Employes must not sleep while on duty. Employes who are in a reclined position with eyes closed will be considered in violation of this rule." More recently, the Federal Raiilroad Administration has implemented its own procedures. This engineer would not be allowed to complete his run, he would likely be immediately suspended from duty pending further hearings, and required to take a drug test.

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