Kintetsu Railway Co.'s planned automatic platform gates that will go up and down (Provided by Kintetsu Railway Co.)

OSAKA--Kintetsu Railway Co. here is developing a platform door system that moves up and down, rather than the conventional sliding type, with plans to put the technology into practical use in several years.

The system is viewed as a solution to a longstanding problem: that generations of trains vary from each other in terms of where doors are located and train platforms are not always of uniform length.

The automatic platform gates that the railway company is developing will sink to a depth of 1 meter on the edge of the platform.

As the doors are required to rise to at least 1.3 meters from the platform surface, the company is working on a system whereby several panels rise to the required height.

“Our intention is to develop automatic platform gates that will not be compromised by the conditions of train stations and train cars,” said Takashi Banshotani, head of Kintetsu Railway’s research institute.

Kintetsu said the prospective use of the technology by other railway operators offered the chance of mass production that would curtail costs.

Kintetsu operates about 1,900 train cars and 286 train stations in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Mie and Aichi prefectures.

Its train stations are also used by Hanshin Electric Railway Co.

But trains run by the two operators are different in terms of the number and location of carriage doors.

That compounded the task of installing sliding platform doors or rope-type automatic gates on train platforms as a means to protect passengers.

Station staff who are required to visually confirm the safety of train operations say one of the difficulties in setting up such equipment on narrow platforms is being able to meet the needs of people in wheelchairs and ensure they can move around smoothly.

The installation of automatic platform gates is regarded as an issue of growing urgency due to the number of cases where people with impaired vision have fallen from train platforms. In the eight years through fiscal 2017, there were 620 such cases, according to transport ministry data.

A government panel has urged railway companies to install automatic gates at stations used by at least 100,000 passengers a day, ahead of other stations, as a matter of priority.

Transport ministry records show that as of the end of March, 725 train stations around the nation were equipped with platform doors, a paltry 7.6 percent of the total.

Of those stations, 101 were in the Kansai region, many of them subway stations.