One train on Shanghai Metro’s problem-plagued Line 10 apparently ran into another as it waited at a station. Over 200 were injured, three (update: around 20) seriously, but no fatalities have been reported. Signal failure has been blamed for the accident, raising possible links to the Wenzhou high speed rail crash. See Shanghaiist’s coverage for breaking updates on the crash (or follow @shanghaiist on Twitter):
A rear-end collision took place today at around 2:30pm or 3pm at the Laoximen metro stop on Line 10 (some reports say Yuyuan Gardens Station, but we’re taking the most recent reports.) Due to a signal failure in Xintiandi Station, the trains reportedly had switched to manual control, which is where things went wrong.
We’re still waiting for clear info on exactly what happened, but one of the trains was reportedly sitting at Laoximen Station for 30 minutes before the collision happened ….
Update 6 [5:48pm]: Shanghai Metro reports that the total number of injured passengers now stands at 212, with 3 seriously injured ….
Update 9 [5:56pm]: Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng (俞正声) is already on his way to visit injured passengers at the Jiaotong University-affiliated Shanghai Number 9 People’s Hospital ….
Update 10 [6:11pm]: According to multiple Chinese sources, Shanghai CASCO Signal Corporation (上海卡丝柯信号有限公司), the company that provided signals for Line 10, also provided the signal technology involved in the Wenzhou rail disaster. (h/t to @MrBaoPanrui)
News of the crash spread quickly on the site as passengers like Weibo user Ji Fashi used their phones to spread word of the incident, as well as upload images they had recorded, including the photo above. Other users have been busy spreading these first-person reports; the picture above, for example, has been retweeted at least 45,000 times, and probably way more than that given that many people have re-uploaded the photo from their own accounts rather than passing along the original upload.
The accident quickly rocketed to the top of Sina’s trending topics list, where it has remained all afternoon, accruing over a million comments in the space of a few hours. As with the train crash, many Weibo users are furious, and someone dug up an old Xinhua piece from 2005 titled “Shanghai Will Never Have a Subway Accident” that hasn’t helped calm anyone down.
State news media reported that the line’s signal system failed around 2:10 p.m. and that supervisors were directing subway trains by telephone before the accident occurred.
It was not the first time that the line has encountered problems.
Two months ago, a signaling problem on the same line caused one train to take a wrong turn; some passengers even reported that the train began to run backward, posing the threat of a collision, according to a report in the state-run news media.
The Shanghai Metro insisted that the equipment supplier for line 10 was not the same as the supplier of the equipment that failed in the Wenzhou accident. But a news release found online shows that the equipment used on the line 10 signal was produced by Casco, a joint venture between the French company Alstom and a Chinese company. Casco produced the signaling equipment for the high-speed line in Wenzhou ….
And according to Xinhua, Tuesday’s crash came after the third signal failure on line 10 during the past three months.
Shanghai Daily recalls earlier problems with Casco’s equipment on the Shanghai Metro:
Casco’s record of signal problems dates to late 2009. A signal circuit glitch led to two trains on Metro Line 1 colliding on December 22, 2009 with no casualties. Casco was punished for that incident.
Staff from the company had wrongly laid out wire in a signal circuit in 2001 when the line was extended.
In an incident in July, also on Line 10, a train that should have been heading for Hangzhong Road instead took the other track at a Y-shaped intersection and ended up at Hongqiao Railway Station.
Yu Guangyao, the board of chairman of Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, which runs the Metro, said his firm got reassurances from Casco after the glithes in July ….
Shentong told Shanghai Daily after July’s accident that the error occurred when the operators were upgrading and testing the new CBTC signaling system. But it was a test on a train full of passengers.
As Shanghaiist reports, Casco also provided equipment for subway lines in Beijing, Dalian, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Changchun, with more projects underway across China.
Shanghai Metro has evidently struggled to strike the right balance in its public response. Withing six hours of the accident, Sina Weibo users saw a contrite apology posted and then quickly deleted, followed by a more optimistic one which soon disappeared as well, to be replaced by a variation on the first. From China Real Time Report:
…Lawyer Yuan Yulai wrote, “The current [social] system won’t allow normal human feelings.” Another lawyer, Cui Xiaoping, said, “The original statement was deleted because it didn’t follow the [appropriate] propaganda style ….”
About five hours after the accident, Shanghai Metro posted that the No.10 line has resumed service. And an hour after that, an apology posting similar to the original version was restored.
It’s not clear why the postings were deleted and reposted. But blogger Lengyun wrote, “You can compare the wording of the two postings then you should be able to understand the thinking of the propaganda system.”
Others worried how whether Shanghai Metro conducted a thorough inspection of the system, given how quickly service resumed. Blogger Wenyifuxingzhifan said, “we don’t need apology. We need safety.”
ABC News has more on Chinese netizens’ reactions to the crash:
Because Twitter is blocked in Mainland China, many people have turned to its Chinese counterpart, Sina Weibo, to vent their anger.
“Last time one train on Line 2 went into the wrong direction,” a Sina Weibo user named “China” wrote. ”They said they were fine-tuning it, and there would be no crashes. How could they explain it now?”
“Accidents one after another, what happened to China!” Sina Weibo user “Jiaboshi” wrote.
“Faulty products are threatening our lives!” “Kanlai9851″ wrote.
The users’ thinly veiled subtext referred to the deadly Wenzhou high-speed train crash in July that killed 40 passengers and injured 192. The Wenzhou crash is seen as somewhat of a watershed moment for the Chinese micro-blogging social network when it, despite being heavily monitored and at times even censored, exploded with outrage.
See this video of the crash aftermath via China Daily:
– “Breaking: Rear-end collision on Shanghai metro line 10, injuries reported” from Shanghaiist
– “Subway Crashes in Shanghai, Weibo Explodes” from Penn-Olson
– “Shanghai Subway Accident Injures Hundreds” from the New York Times
– “The Case of the Disappearing Shanghai Subway Apology” from the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Times blog
– “Shanghai Subway Crash Enrages Chinese ‘Netizens’” from ABC News