High-speed rail travel halted by rain

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


High-speed-rail passengers were hit with extensive delays in Shanghai yesterday after a train was stranded on the line at Hongqiao station - apparently due to rain.

A knock-on effect saw hold-ups of up to two hours affecting more than a dozen services, just as the Lunar New Year travel rush was reaching full swing and following a year in which the high-speed service has been under intense criticism due to technical difficulties and the fatal Wenzhou crash in July.

There were reports of passengers at Hongqiao station hearing a loud explosion and seeing a flash of light at about 1.30pm, according to posts widely distributed on microblogs.

One post on Sina Weibo under the username Dudaizhebiwang said: 'The station announced over the loudspeakers: 'There has been a technical fault! Leaders are currently conducting a rescue! Public [should] remain calm! Please, everyone trust the government and have faith in travelling by high-speed rail.''

A statement on Shanghai Railway Bureau's website blamed the technical problems on the weather. 'The influence of rainy and misty weather reduced the electrical insulation on the high-voltage equipment on the roof of a Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train, causing circuit breakers on the electrical supply to jump and the high-voltage equipment on the high-speed train to switch off as a safeguard, resulting in delays to a number of trains,' it said.

Staff at Hongqiao station confirmed there had been widespread delays caused by an 'equipment failure'. 'The train that was affected is stalled on the line and cannot be moved,' one employee said, almost four hours after the incident. 'Although some trains are able to run as normal, a number of others cannot pass until the train has been moved, so there are many delays.'

At least 11 departures were marked as 'delayed indefinitely'. Worst affected appeared to be the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line running through the Hongqiao transport hub and services continuing to Hangzhou and beyond.