Researchers in Japan are claiming the recent self-immolation fire on the Osaka-bound shinkansen has exposed lapses in train security (emphasis added):
Transport officials met with bullet train operators after the fire to seek ways to tighten security without affecting the efficiency of the trains.
Experts say airport-level luggage checks are impractical for the high-speed line, which operates trains every few minutes during busy hours. Instead, they say increased police patrols and random baggage checks could be more effective.
Baggage checks for high-speed train passengers are also not required in Germany, France, Taiwan and South Korea. The Eurostar connecting Britain to Brussels and Paris requires a passport and luggage checks, and China has X-ray checks on subways.
The Tokyo-Osaka leg, the most popular segment with 420,000 passengers every day, is part of a bullet train network spanning most of Japan. The 16-car trains cover the 553 kilometers (343 miles) in 2 hours and 33 minutes.
“All these years we were worried but haven’t been able to find effective precautionary measures,” Sone said. “Now that the accident happened, it’s time to take action.”
It will be interesting to see if any additional action is taken to protect the shinkansen from similar attacks in the future. However, I would argue that security is sufficient: a single incident does not a problem make.
As mentioned, increased patrols and random baggage checks are likely much better measures than adding unnecessary cruft to transportation. Japan is not the United States and TSA-like security theater is a complete waste of the countries limited resources.
If anything, this incident exposed some limitations of the automated security systems once its detects a fire on the train. This seems to be a far more dangerous situation than anything else related to this act.