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July 16, 2012

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Metro vibration, noise said likely to worsen

YOU sit by the window in the small but popular Fuchun dim sum shop in Yuyuan Road downtown, and just as you are about to take a blissful bite from a juicy, pork-filled steamed bun, your enjoyment is snapped by what feels like a small earthquake.

The local denizens who frequent Fuchun barely blink an eye, but newcomers flinch as a Metro train rumbles noisily through the Jiangsu Road Metro station more than 10 meters below.

Residents of the Yuyuan Road and nearby Jiangsu Road area may be used to the constant vibration and noise of trains running along Lines 2 and 11, but that doesn't mean they like the constant annoyance.

Twenty-nine local scientists and engineers have recommended in a submission to the local government that steps be taken to address the problem of Metro vibration and noise.

As the city's Metro system continues to age and expand, the nuisance factor will only heighten, affecting thousands of households and prompting a crescendo of complaints, they said.

Shanghai Daily interviewed 10 residents who live along Yuyuan and Jiangsu roads. They complained to varying degrees of their chagrin about shaking in their apartment blocks. Residents at the 657 Yuyuan Road complex seemed the most perturbed.

"Sometimes when you are eating a bowl of dumplings and a train passes underground, the soup actually shakes in the bowl and some spills out," said a resident, surnamed Zhao. "The vibration impact is heavier now than before. We older residents have gotten used to it, but newcomers always have a hard time adjusting."

A neighbor in the same building, a woman surnamed Zhu, said the higher up you live, the stronger the shakes. "You feel the trembling from early morning to late night from each passing train," she said. "I am sometimes awakened when empty trains pass through at 2am in the morning."

Length of system to double

Line 2 is the city's second-oldest subway line. It was opened in 2000. Line 11, which shares the Jiangsu Road Station, is one of the city's newest.

Shanghai is expanding its subway network to try to ease traffic congestion on streets. By 2020, the city expects to double the length of the current system to more than 800 kilometers.

The increasing density of Metro lines and stations in residential areas, as well as aging facilities, could magnify vibration disturbance, the engineering experts warned.

Local media reports in recent years suggest the problem is shared by residents in many areas of the city.

The local construction commission, the city's transport watchdog, said the problem is actively under study. A three-year research project has begun to see what technical solutions might be available.

For one, Metro has used more advanced materials to upgrade the subway track along a section on Line 8, successfully curbing vibration.

Authorities are also conducting citywide tests to map areas most troubled by train noise and vibration.

The subway operator said it is looking at options, such as lowering train speeds in the evening when traffic on the lines is slacker. The research is tracking how speed affects vibration levels.

Yin Jingyuan, a computer science professor from Shanghai University, said in the proposal submitted by experts to the government that local authorities should accelerate engineering tests so that any positive findings can be incorporated into future planning of Metro routes.

Shen Jianhua, a local biologist sharing the proposal said the city's geological structure tends to magnify the impact of shake waves, making areas along Metro lines more vulnerable to the vibration and noise.

"An aging system magnifies the problem," he said. "Authorities need to find the technical solutions so that they could minimize the impact on future Metro routes, even if they can't completely solve the trouble that already exists."

The city's Metro system has 11 lines and 278 stations, and carries nearly 7 million people a day. By year's end, two more Metro lines will be completed, increasing the system's size by 18 percent. By 2020, 17 lines are expected to be in service in the city.


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