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December 22, 2010

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Smaller Metro hubs in wake of blaze

GIANT Metro hubs serving several underground lines may no longer be built in Shanghai, as the city learns the public safety lessons of the downtown high-rise blaze that killed 58 people last month.

Such "hyper hubs" are often congested, which present access difficulties for emergency services and could cause problems with evacuation, said Shanghai's top construction and transport authorities yesterday.

The November 15 high-rise inferno on Jiaozhou Road, which killed 58 people and left 71 injured, exposed deficiencies in the city's public emergency response and safety management system, said the Shanghai Urban and Rural Construction and Transport Commission.

It is now launching improvement initiatives citywide.

"Public safety must always be our top priority. To ensure this, we need to have effective management when developing future Metro stations and other major projects," said Huang Rong, director of the commission. "That's the lesson we must learn from the inferno."

Accordingly, urban planners should, where possible, avoid building any more big hub stations, said Huang.

"In areas with great traffic demand, we will build several Metro stations shared by two routes, instead of a single hyper hub to integrate several lines," he explained.

"For years, we have been focusing on urban construction and advancing the scale of the urban infrastructure. Now it's time for us to shift the focus to our urban management abilities," Huang added.

Shanghai has 11 Metro lines, handling a daily average of 5.5 million people. The city has the longest network of underground track in the world, totaling 410 kilometers.

There are seven major hub stations in downtown areas, shared by up to four Metro lines. Some are also connected to underground commercial complexes, such as the People's Square and Century Avenue stations.

The authorities said safety procedures in hubs are being improved.

On November 15, firefighters had trouble reaching the burning downtown high-rise as the block was surrounded by congested streets.


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