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January 23, 2010

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Home » Metro » Public Services

9-year-old error said to cause Metro accident

AN error made nine years ago in connecting the wire of a signal circuit caused last month's crash of two trains on the city's oldest subway line, Shanghai traffic authorities said yesterday.

A signal device on Metro Line 1 sent the wrong speed instructions to one train, which then hit an empty train on December 22 during morning rush hour, according to an investigation report released yesterday.

"The accident is a result of several mishaps that morning," said Sun Jianping, director of the Shanghai Communications, Transport and Port Administration Bureau, who led the investigation team joined by at least four government departments.

Sun said the signal system on the whole line is safe, and the faulty wire has been fixed.

"It's just a single case," he added.

It was the first accident of this kind since Line 1 opened in 1995.

Seven people have been punished: four from the signal provider, Casco Signal Ltd, and three from the subway operator, Shanghai Shentong Group, Sun said.

Power glitch

He did not disclose what kind of penalties they received but said the punishments were "severe."

Jin Jiamo, a Shentong spokesman, declined to comment yesterday. Casco could not be reached.

On December 22, two accidents occurred on the line, one after another during the morning rush, delaying tens of thousands of passengers and trapping thousands in a damaged train for four hours.

A power glitch at 5:50am stopped operations between Shaanxi Road S. Station and People's Square Station. The operator sent backup trains to get passengers stuck on the platforms.

However, as operations gradually resumed one hour later, a much bigger mishap hit train No.150, traveling in the tunnel section between Zhongshan Road N. Station and Shanghai Railway Station.

At 6:50am a signal sent a speed order of 65 kilometers per hour to the train, although the required speed is 20 kilometers per hour, according to the investigation.

Hard to stop

The driver of the train, driving at 60.5 kilometers per hour, suddenly found a train ahead, and almost immediately another signal ordered the train to stop.

The train was hard to stop although the driver desperately pulled the manual brake and slowed down. The required braking length is 127 meters, but the two trains were just 118 meters apart.

Four minutes later at 6:54am, No.150, going 16.5 kilometers per hour, collided into an empty train that was on an intersecting track. That train, No. 117, had been one of the backups in the 5:50am accident and was now making a maneuver called a turn-back.

Three trains successfully turned back at the same location without incident.

The driver, with five years' experience, was not responsible for the accident. On the contrary, he should be credited for his efficient performance in the emergency, said Huang Rong, director of the urban construction and transport commission, which helped supervise the investigation.

The report said Casco workers wrongly laid out the wire in the signal circuit in 2001 when the line was extended.


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