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October 7, 2011

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12 Metro officials sanctioned in big crash

A dozen Metro officials have been punished for September 27's Metro Line 10 train collision that caused 295 injuries, Shanghai's investigation panel said yesterday, while placing blame for the accident squarely on human error.

The first mistake came when the city's Metro operator, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, authorized construction work at the Xintiandi Station without turning off the power - a decision made without realization of the risk or a backup plan to meet emergencies, the panel said.

The decision led to an electrician damaging the power supply, causing a loss of electric power to the station at 1:58pm. That led directly to a blackout to the Metro line's signaling system, forcing the operators to switch to a manual dispatch mode to guide trains, the panel said in a report.

At the time, a train was running from Yuyuan Garden Station to Laoximeng Station when the driver suddenly discovered the signaling system failure. Metro operators ordered the driver to stop the train in the tunnel between the two stations at 2pm. The dispatchers were using telephones to control the trains because of the signaling system's power loss.

About 35 minutes later, another train started from Yuyuan Garden Station and ran at up to 54 kilometers per hour on the same track as the previous train. When it drove into a curve, the driver suddenly spotted the first train still parked in the tunnel between the two stations.

The driver used the emergency break system to try to avoid a collision, but still rear-ended the first train at 35 kilometers per hour.

The collision forced the second train to tilt to one side, and the first train was jolted about seven meters forward, injuring a total of 295 passengers on both trains. Some 70 remain hospitalized.

The investigation shows that Metro dispatchers delivered the wrong orders to the second train, giving it the green light instead of telling it to stop. Dispatchers did not even check the position of the first train still parked in the tunnel, a violation of regulations.

The station's on-duty operator accepted the order, telling the second train to go on, also without checking whether the tunnel was occupied by another train as required.

Among the 12 Metro officials held responsible for the accident, three were fired from their jobs. They were Zhu Limin, the vice director of Shentong Group's dispatching department; and Tang Zhihua and Kuo Kang, director and vice manager, respectively, of the dispatching center for Line 10.

Shi Jin, a dispatcher of Metro Line 10, has been transferred.

The other officials, including Shentong's president, chief executive, vice president, the on-duty operator that accepted the orders and the others, have received warnings or been demoted.


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