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July 14, 2010

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Fainting passenger delays subway

THOUSANDS of Metro passengers were delayed during morning rush hour yesterday when someone pulled the emergency brake after someone fainted on a Line 2 train.

The Metro operator said it would have been better to let the train continue to the next station.

"Stopping the train when it is still in the tunnel would be of little help in such situations," said a Metro official. "The sick may not receive proper treatment in time."

The incident happened at 8:29am on a train traveling from Nanjing Road E. to People's Square.

The driver checked the carriage where the passenger had taken ill and restarted the train after checking with the subway control room.

The train arrived at People's Square station at 8:38am.

However, Metro officials there failed to find the sick passenger and no one in the carriage would say who had pulled the emergency handle.

The incident also had a knock-on effect on the following trains, the operator said.

"Good intentions may lead to unwanted results," said Gu Jun, a professor teaching sociology at the Shanghai University.

"But it's really difficult for passengers to quickly judge which is a real emergency and which is not."

Yesterday, the Metro operator clarified the conditions under which passengers should pull the emergency handle to halt the train. They should do so if people got stuck in train doors or in incidents involving fire or explosions.

Previously, passengers had been uncertain about what the rules were governing the emergency handle. Signs in the carriages only mentioned that unauthorized use was prohibited.

The question was raised recently after a woman died after her hand got stuck between closing subway car doors on July 5. She was dragged along by the moving train until she hit security barriers on the platform.

Some passengers said the tragedy could have been avoided if someone had operated the emergency handle while others said passengers did - both claims unconfirmed by the operator.


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