Everyone knows that in case of an emergency, inflatable slides pop out from the exits of an airplane, enabling passengers to quickly and safely exit from the craft. But what about trains? Sure, walking on and off the platform is easy, but what if the train makes an abrupt stop and you’re staring at a four-foot drop to the ground? If you find yourself in Japan, you’ll be able to use the very seat you’re sitting on to make a swift escape.
The photo above was posted to Twitter with the caption, “The seats on the Keio Line are so versatile it made me laugh.” It turns out that the seats of every train in Japan are designed to fit exactly between the adjacent tracks and the doors of the carriage just in case an emergency evacuation is necessary.
The seats were redesigned after the 1951 Sakuragi Town Incident in which a crowded train caught fire. As the train burned, the doors of the carriages wouldn’t open, trapping the passengers inside. After the incident, a law was passed requiring all trains to come equipped with emergency exits and carriage doors that open using compressed air, as well as the bench seat/emergency slides. The seats were also used as stretchers after a sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway line in 1995.
With over 9,000 retweets, the utility of train seats seems to be a little-known fact of Japanese train life. We wonder what other surprises are hiding inside the cramped carriages.