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February 25, 2010

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Crowd overwhelms Zhangjiang station

THE Zhangjiang High-Tech Park Station made its debut as an underground Metro stop yesterday morning, and it proved a shaky start, with ticket turnstiles breaking down under a huge passenger turnout during the morning rush.

Many commuters, using elbows, carved their way to get to the turnstiles but found themselves stuck in the crowds. Station staff had to open emergency passages to let them out.

"I was almost late for work," said a passenger, surnamed Yan, who described the sight of crowds as "terrible."

Making matters worse, the stairs at the station were too narrow. "Only two can pass side by side at time," said Yan.

A part of the Metro Line 2 east extension project, the Zhangjiang station has been converted from an above-ground station into an underground one.

The restructured station opened yesterday along with two other stops, Jinke Road and Guanglan Road, stretching the line farther east.

Passenger turnout at the new Zhangjiang station increased by 20 percent during yesterday's morning rush, up from about 14,000 passengers per hour at the older station, the operator said.

Several ticket turnstiles broke down at about 8:15am under the heavy volume and the operator lifted the emergency gates by 8:45am.

The interval between trains has been set at 4 minutes and 39 seconds during the testing, which is expected to last one to two weeks. The previous wait was about 3 minutes.

The operator, Shanghai Shentong Group, said the line will resume its original interval time "as soon as possible."

Shentong said it will add more ticket turnstiles and expressed confidence that commutes will be smoother over time. It said the new station can hold twice as many passengers as the old one.

Shentong said passenger volume increased at the station during rush hours while "the transport capacity decreased." Trains were running at longer intervals because signals were being tested.

But fearing that the volume will continue to increase at the station in the following weeks, the operator suggested that companies in the high-tech park dispatch their company shuttle buses to the other two new stations, which are also located within the park.

Commuters choose to get out at the Zhangjiang station because most of the shuttle buses stop there.

The line is to be stretched as far as the Pudong International Airport by the end of March.


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