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December 23, 2009

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Commuter chaos reigns after city trains collide

A CITY subway line was shut for almost an entire morning yesterday after two trains collided in a tunnel following an earlier power glitch.

Amazingly, city police said there were no injuries reported in the accident on Metro Line 1, the city's oldest which carries about a million passengers a day.

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

Tens of thousands of commuters were stranded at eight Line 1 stations from 7am, when the accident occurred, until about noon.

Traffic snarls reigned on roads around the stations as stranded passengers swarmed to seek other forms of transport.

Worse, passengers trapped in one of the stricken trains, which was derailed, were not freed for more than four hours, raising concerns over emergency procedures.

The line was restored to full service about 12:15pm after Metro authorities and rail emergency teams pulled the damaged trains apart at 11:48am, said officials with Shanghai Shentong Group, the subway operator.

Shao Weizhong, general manager of the Metro operations center, said yesterday's breakdown was the result of two separate incidents.

A joint task force was set up by the city government, traffic, transportation and subway authorities to investigate and held an emergency session last night.

The meeting, chaired by Vice Mayor Shen Jun, called for immediate safety checks on all Metro lines.

It was a day - and night - to forget for Metro Line 1.

An 18-minute delay was reported on the line starting at 1:50pm because of "operational adjustments." Then at 8:30 last night in Shaanxi Road S. Station smoke billowed out of a transformer, causing a 10-minute delay.

Yesterday's drama began with the power glitch which caused a long halt between the line's Shaanxi Road S. and People's Square stations about 5:50am.

The Metro operator sent backup trains to carry passengers stuck along the line.

The power problem, identified as an electrical short circuit, was fixed at 7:06am.

During this process, the No. 150 train, full of passengers, crashed into the commuter-free No. 117 train in front of it near the tunnel of Shanghai Railway Station about 7am.

"No. 150 went against signal orders," said a Shentong statement.

"Fortunately, no one was injured as both were running at low speed."

However, passengers on No. 150, many scared and anxious, were left unaided.

"The first rescue team did no appear until almost two hours after the collision," said Song Hanchang, a No. 150 commuter.

He described the wait as "a nightmare."

A girl in the carriage was weeping and calling for her parents, Song said.

Song and thousands of other passengers were led a short distance along the track by officials about 11:30am to an emergency train that took them to Zhongshan Road N. Station, one stop away from Shanghai Railway Station.

Authorities said almost 1,000 subway staff and thousands of police officers and security guards were organized to help evacuate the passengers.

"I had totally no idea about the shutdown," said Don Martin, an American tourist who tried to take a Line 1 train at People's Square Station.

"There was no English information; it seemed like an endless delay."

He eventually caught a cab about 10:45am.


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