Shanghai subway train crash injures 271
SHANGHAI - Hundreds of people were injured yesterday when a subway train slammed into the rear of another train in a sprawling transit line that opened just last year. The accident cast new scrutiny on the safety record of China’s rapidly modernizing mass transit rail systems.
The state-run media reported that 271 people were injured during the afternoon accident in the Shanghai Metro system. Xinhua, the official news agency, said that equipment failure was believed to be responsible and that the accident was under investigation.
There were no deaths reported, but the government said late yesterday that about 20 people had serious injuries that were not considered life threatening. Images from the crash site posted on blogs and social networking sites showed some people bloodied and badly injured.
The accident came just two months after a deadly crash involving two trains on China’s high-speed rail network for which officials blamed bad weather and a signal failure. The July 23 crash in the eastern city of Wenzhou killed 40 people and injured nearly 200.
The Wenzhou accident unleashed public criticism of the nation’s high-speed rail program amid concern that the government had not ensured its safety. Since then, the government has slowed the speed of trains and announced a thorough review of its safety program.
As part of its rapid urbanization efforts, China has spent billions of dollars over the past decade on building huge subway systems and a national high-speed rail network.
The pace of construction is unprecedented, with even second-tier but fast-growing cities like Wuhan racing to build underground subway systems to ease congestion.
Up to now, China’s transportation systems have proved to be a boon to its economy, with few fatalities. But there have been increasing reports over the past few years of substandard roads and bridges and worries that subway and high-speed rail construction may be moving too quickly and could pose safety problems.
The accident yesterday in Shanghai occurred around 2:50 p.m. on Metro line 10, which stretches from downtown Shanghai to Hongqiao, one of the city’s airports. The line also travels north, south, east, and west in the vast city of 23 million. The accident was near Yuyuan Gardens, a favorite Shanghai tourist spot.
State media reported that the line’s signal system failed around 2:10 p.m. and that supervisors were directing subway trains by telephone before the accident occurred.
It was not the first time that the line has encountered problems. wo months ago, a signaling problem on the same line caused one train to take a wrong turn; some passengers even reported that the train began to run backward, posing the threat of a collision, according to the state-run news media.
The Shanghai Metro insisted that the equipment supplier for line 10 was not the same as the supplier of the equipment that failed in the Wenzhou accident. But a news release found online shows that the equipment used on the line 10 signal was produced by Casco, a joint venture between the French company Alstom and a Chinese company. Casco also produced the signaling equipment for the high-speed line in Wenzhou.
According to Xinhua, yesterday’s crash came after the third signal failure on line 10 during the past three months.