The logistics of a Tokyo evacuation (speculation)


Alex and I were talking about the situation in Japan last night, and we started speculating about the probability of evacuating Tokyo.

Japanese Shinkansen trains consist of 16 cars — assuming you can cram about 200 people per car (and that’s a tight fit), then you can get 3,200 people out in every train.
The fastest you can probably do it is by having one train every 5 minutes.  That’s 12 trains per hour, 24 hours in a day.  That’s 921,600 people you can move per day by train. The population (in a conservative estimate) of the Tokyo metropolitan area is about 35 million people.  You would need 38 days to get all the people out.

Now, obviously there is more than 1 train line out of the city, although there are only a few that go long distance.  But even if you double or triple the amount, it’s still not enough.
And that’s not even thinking about the practical concerns of having that many trains (which they don’t) or getting the trains turned around and back into Tokyo in time.

Clearly there are other options: airplanes, boats, cars, etc.  But it’s just too many people. There’s no way you can do it. And that’s not to mention the chaos that would occur if you tried … car accidents, people getting trampled, etc. There is no crowd-management system to handle that many people.  Plus, where would they all go?

We did get online and price out a last-minute airplane ticket out of Tokyo last night. It was only £800 to get a flight from Tokyo to Shanghai for this morning. So, as usual, if you have the cash you might be okay.

It’s just so awful.

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Posted on 17/03/2011, in Logistics, Transit, travel, Travel to Asia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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