Police officers and firefighters take a close look at an automated train on the Kanazawa Seaside Line after it started in reverse at Shin-Sugita Station in Yokohama on June 1. (Yasuhiro Sugimoto)

YOKOHAMA--An automated train started in reverse and slammed into a station buffer here, injuring 14 passengers, six of them seriously.

The accident occurred at Shin-Sugita Station, the terminal of the Seaside Line in the city's Isogo Ward, around 8:15 p.m. on June 1, according to operator Yokohama Seaside Line Co.

Some of the injured people suffered bone fractures.

About 50 passengers were aboard the five-car train.

After the doors closed for departure, the train moved in the wrong direction for about 25 meters and smashed into the buffer, according to police. The train was supposed to have headed for Namiki-Chuo Station in Kanazawa Ward.

“The train came to a stop with a mighty jolt several seconds after it began moving,” said Kenichi Aoki, who was in what would have been the second car from the front if the train had gone in the right direction.

"Children were wailing and people were in panic,” he said.

Aoki, a 46-year-old company employee of Kanazawa Ward, said he saw passengers covered in blood lying on the floor in the car ahead of his. In the car behind, he said a passenger was bleeding from the face.

The impact of the collision caused Aoki to slam into a support bar, leaving him with a painful arm and foot.

He said he could not get out of the train for five minutes after the collision.

The 11-kilometer Seaside Line, which connects Shin-Sugita and Kanazawa-Hakkei stations, opened in 1989 and became fully automated in 1994.

The driverless trains run on a program controlled by Yokohama Seaside Line's operational headquarters.

In an early June 2 news conference, the company said it was trying to ascertain the cause of the accident. It remained unclear when the company will be able to resume operations.

"We never expected that the train would run backward," Akihiko Mikami, president of Yokohama Seaside Line, told the news conference. "It is the first accident involving passengers since we started operations 30 years ago. We are extremely sorry."

Investigators from the government’s Japan Transport Safety Board began on-site investigations on June 2.

Similar driverless trains operate on seven other routes, including the Yurikamome Line and the Nippori-Toneri Liner, both in Tokyo.