270 hurt as trains collide in Shanghai

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2011, 12:00am


At least 271 passengers were injured when two trains collided on Shanghai's subway system yesterday, barely two months after a deadly high-speed railway crash.

Yesterday's collision occurred at 2.51pm, when a Line 10 train ploughedinto the back of stationary carriages while approaching Laoximen station. Services on a section spanning 12 stations running through the city centre would be suspended from today for a thorough safety check, the Shanghai Metro said.

Shanghai health bureau spokesman Xu Jianguang said 180 passengers had been discharged from hospital, 61 were still being treated and another 30 were likely to be released after 24 hours.

Four foreigners were among the injured - two Japanese, a Canadian and a Filipino - Xinhua reported. None suffered serious injuries.

There were no deaths and none of the seven passengers admitted to intensive care units had life-threatening injuries. But similarities between the collision and the high-speed train crash in Wenzhou two months ago is likely to further undermine confidence in the safety of the mainland's rail network.

Both collisions involved a train being rear-ended and were initially blamed on signalling faults.

Yu Guangyao, chairman of Shanghai Shentong Metro, said the line had been shifted to manual mode after signal problems that happened 40 minutes before the collision. He said Casco Signal - which produced the signalling set-up on the line that malfunctioned yesterday - had promised to improve the system after a problem on Line 10 on July 28, causing a train to take a wrong turn. No one was hurt in the incident.

Casco, a joint venture by France's Alstom and China Railway Signal & Communication, also provided systems on the line where two trains crashed on July 23, in which 40 people were killed, Xinhua reported.

But Yu said it was still too early to tell if the accident had been caused by system failures or human error. An investigation team has been asked to look into the case.

There were extensive delays for 40 minutes on the line before the collision yesterday, due to an 'equipment malfunction' at Xintiandi station, one stop west of the scene of the accident. Passengers on the train that crashed into the stationary carriages said they experienced at least two stoppages, lasting around 10 to 20 minutes, before the crash.

'We waited at the station before Laoximen for quite a while. Then when we were about halfway through the tunnel, there was a sudden crash,' said a 40-year-old salesman, who declined to be named.

'It was pretty chaotic in the carriage as there were people injured, bleeding and calling for help. But we tried to remain as calm as possible. People closer to the front of the train were more badly injured.'

Passengers uploaded photos of the aftermath on microblogging websites minutes after the collision.

'We sat in the train waiting for at least half an hour before rescuers came to help us,' the salesman said. 'They opened the train doors so we could walk out through the tunnel.

'It was over an hour before we made it to open air.'

More than a dozen fire engines, fleets of ambulances, several hundred police officers and the city's mobile Medical Emergency Centre responded to the accident.

The incident is the latest in a long string of glitches that have plagued Line 10. Early last month, a train on the line was stranded by a power cut and passengers could only escape through the driver's cabin.

Less than a fortnight earlier, faulty signals sent a train down the wrong branch at a split on the line.