Failures of railway embankments in Japan usually occur during rainfall period due to the rise of water level in the embankments. Laboratory experiments were carried out to elucidate the initiation of failure of embankment under the rise of water level. The changes in pore-water pressure were monitored during the rise of water table and at the initiation of failures. The experiment results showed that main failure of embankment was initiated by development of localized unstable area at the toe of the embankment models during the rise of water level. This indicates that failure of embankments was a consequence of instability of the toe of the slope induced by saturation process under drained condition.