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January 12, 2010

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Metro Line 8 encounters more woes

SHANGHAI'S beleaguered Metro Line 8 suffered a delay of more than half an hour during morning peak yesterday.

It was unfortunate timing - the first working day after five extra trains were introduced to ease commuter congestion.

Tension among passengers mounted as they found it hard to squash into carriages even after services were restored.

Two men became involved in a fight at one station when a queuing dispute turned ugly.

"Train capacities always fall short due to increasing passengers," the city subway operator, Shanghai Shentong Group, said in a statement yesterday.

"This supply-demand imbalance will not change in the short term," it said.

Shengtong said the daily passenger turnover of Line 8 had reached 430,000, a 43 percent increase compared to the first half year of 2009.

Things deteriorate when there are breakdowns.

Line 8 reported a long delay caused by a signal glitch last Thursday.

In yesterday's delay, signal glitches hit the line at 7:45am and affected trains using the tracks between Aerospace Museum Station and Yaohua Road Station in Pudong, the subway operator said.

The problem was fixed at 8:09am but full services did not resume until 8:30am.

Shengtong shut down some ticket turnstiles and even entrances at eight stations along the line for about two hours, asking would-be passengers to seek alternative means of transport.

Similar passenger restrictions were enforced on the line at least twice last week because of crowded platforms.

The line is under mounting pressure as more passengers and visitors are a foregone conclusion during the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

The line has two stations near the Expo site.

Smaller carriages and longer interval times on Line 8 have been bones of contention since its inception in 2007.

Its newly arrived seven-carriage trains can carry 2,000 passengers while other lines with bigger trains have a capacity for more than 2,500 commuters with seven cars.

"In extreme cases during rush hours, the passenger number surpassed the capacity by 70 percent," the operator said.

"Line 8 is among city's most crowded subways."

Thirty-one trains now run on the line and passenger capacity has already been increased by almost 20 percent.

The operator said more trains would be added to Line 8 but did give a time frame.


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