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January 4, 2010

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Metro tightens security

METRO passengers will face more security checks from today, the first working day after the New Year holiday.

An additional 60 X-ray machines were put in place at 31 stations of the city's 10 subway lines over the three-day holiday, the latest step in beefing up security before this year's World Expo.

Passengers carrying bags and luggage will all be subject to checks, said local police.

"Long-term challenges lie ahead as the city will have more subways," said Qi Jiansheng, deputy chief of the Metro police. "Our hands are few compared to the huge passenger turnover."

Security is a vital issue as nearly 4 million people use the Metro daily and numbers are increasing.

The police are considering adding more machines and more staff to enable passengers to get through the checks faster and prevent congestion. Security checks on passengers can take about 30 seconds to a minute.

The first 30 X-ray machines have been in use at 12 stations since September 25.

Officers said 85 percent of passengers were "very cooperative" when asked to put bags and luggage through the machines. But some were dodging the checks.

By March, security checks by machines, metal detectors or dogs will cover all 200-plus stations. More than 6,000 security staff will be seen at station checkpoints by March, triple the current 2,000.

Officers said more than 15,000 banned items such as fireworks, gasoline, poisons, corrosive materials and chemicals had been detected by scanning machines since September.

Half were everyday items such as lighters, hair styling mousses, nail polish and perfume. Single items are allowed but "carrying only two pieces of such commodities will be seen as dangerous," officers said.

Officers seized over 80,000 dangerous goods last year. Anyone carrying banned items faces up to 15 days' detention and fines.

Some passengers have complained that their luxury bags were stained when going through the machines. Staff now clean the conveyor belts three times a day.


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