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November 20, 2010

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Fault on new train leads to passenger complaints

A train on the newly opened Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed line suddenly stopped on the track for a short time for no apparent reason, unnerving many of the passengers onboard.

The Shanghai Railway Bureau, the ciyt's rail operator, did not explain the delay, but many believe it was caused by a power failure.

The incident once again raised passengers' doubts about whether the new bullet trains are as safe as they are claimed to be by the rail operator. This comes after a power glitch hit the Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed route in October and disrupted services for two hours.

The G7302 high-speed train left Hangzhou railway station in Zhejiang Province at 7am yesterday and made the unscheduled stop soon after its departure, said some of the passengers.

Han Zhen, who was onboard, said the train gradually stopped around 10 minutes after it had left the station.

The train was riding on elevated tracks above a road near a middle school, said Han.

The train stopped for about five minutes. We could hear it try to start twice, but it stayed stalled, Han said.

Through public address broadcast, passengers were informed that "the train would stop for a short period of time." Passengers soon felt the air-conditioning system stopping and assumed the power had been cut.

Many became nervous and scared, and a guy even shouted "let's go back" many times, said Han.

About five minutes later, the train moved again and arrived at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station at 8:05am, about 15 minutes late.

Passengers said they have not received an apology from the operator, however, and no rail staff gave them an explanation for the breakdown.

Many passengers also complained about a "bad smell" in the carriages once the train had stopped - the train windows cannot be opened.

Rail officials claimed that the ventilation system on trains would keep working when the air-conditioning system stopped functioning.

"How can the operator guarantee the passengers will not be stranded in stuffy carriages when emergencies happen?" one passenger asked.

The Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed line opened on October 26. The train, with a top operational speed of 350 kilometers per hour, can shorten the trip by half an hour to 45 minutes. The authorities claimed the trains have advanced facilities which are on a par with airplanes.


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