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Shanghai metro crash renews safety fears

September 28, 2011

SHANGHAI: A metro crash in China’s commercial capital Shanghai sparked fresh fears today that safety may have been compromised in the country’s rush to develop its vast transport network.

State media urged the government to “be more cautious” after the collision of two metro trains yesterday injured more than 270 people, just months after a deadly high-speed rail crash in the eastern city of Wenzhou killed at least 40.

Most of the injuries were mild, but the accident, blamed on a signalling failure, occurred on one of Shanghai’s newest metro lines and is a blow to city authorities after an ambitious expansion programme ahead of the World Expo.

Last year’s six-month Expo attracted more than 70 million visitors from around the world and was viewed as a major success for the city as it develops into a global commercial capital.

The Global Times, an English-language daily, said China had no choice but to develop modern transport systems for major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, but that it could not afford safety failures.

“China should be more cautious and concentrated at avoiding risks,” the paper said in an editorial. “Although this is hard to do the tragedies in Wenzhou and Shanghai keep reminding people that China cannot afford failure.”

Authorities have launched an investigation into exactly how the accident was allowed to happen on line 10, which was only opened in 2010.

The Shanghai Securities News, a business daily, said CASCO Signal, the joint venture company that built the signalling system, was also behind the failed signals that caused the Wenzhou crash.

In a front-page report headlined “How many times will CASCO signals go wrong again?”, the newspaper said CASCO supplied signalling systems for at least six metro lines in Shanghai, as well as the high-speed railway.

CASCO “has become a target for the public,” said the paper, after thousands of netizens used China’s hugely popular social networking sites to criticise safety failures on the metro.

CASCO, a joint venture between French transport and power giant Alstom and state-owned China Railway Signal & Communication Corp, declined to comment.

A statement on the Shanghai Metro website said operations on a section of Line 10 where the accident took place would be suspended for checks and assessment.

– AFP


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