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China metro crash injures 271
by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Sept 27, 2011

Two metro trains collided in Shanghai on Tuesday, injuring more than 270 people, the city government said, just months after a deadly high-speed rail crash that shocked China.

The Shanghai Metro Company blamed the accident on a signal failure -- the same cause as a July high-speed train crash that killed at least 40 people and shook public confidence in China's vast rail network, prompting outrage.

There were no deaths from Tuesday's accident, but pictures posted on Chinese websites showed bloodied passengers, some lying on the floor apparently unconscious and others with head injuries.

A health official told a news conference that 271 injured were sent to hospital, of which 61 remained hospitalised and another 30 under observation as of Tuesday evening. The others had been discharged.

The metro company said 500 passengers had been evacuated from the trains.

Around 50 went to the nearby Ruijin hospital, where a doctor said most of the victims were only slightly hurt.

Four foreigners, two Japanese, one Canadian and one from the Philippines, suffered minor injuries.

"This accident shouldn't have happened," Wen Pei, a passenger in the hospital's emergency room told AFP, his arm in a sling from a shoulder injury.

"The speed seemed fast. I felt a sudden stop, which made me lose my balance. I hit my head on the pole and it bled," said another victim, without giving his name.

The Shanghai government said it was investigating the accident and had set up a special team which would consult outside experts.

Chairman of the Shanghai Metro Company, Yu Guangyao, confirmed the accident was apparently caused by a failure of the signalling system and apologised.

He named the maker of the signalling system as CASCO Signal, an entity of French transport and power giant Alstom.

"No matter whether equipment or management, we will investigate thoroughly," he told the late evening news conference.

Services started to resume Tuesday evening after the line had been cleared.

China's hugely popular microblogs buzzed with criticism of the authorities in the hours following the crash, with many accusing the government of failing to ensure passenger safety.

"This is the consequence of rapid development. In the end we have to seriously consider if we want GDP or a happy life," one blogger posted under the name Shaolei123.

"After this I won't dare take a subway," posted another.

The accident comes as China struggles to rebuild public trust in its vast rail system after a high-speed train crash near the city of Wenzhou, south of Shanghai, in July, when at least 40 people died.

Developing the world's largest high-speed rail network was a key political goal for Beijing, but the Wenzhou accident forced it to rethink.

The crash was the worst ever to hit China's high-speed train system and raised questions about whether safety had been overlooked in the rush to develop the network.

The results of an investigation into that accident have yet to be released, but officials have blamed it on a failure of the Chinese-built signalling system in use on the line.

China is also pouring money into its urban underground networks, with nearly two dozen major cities given the green light in late 2009 to build 89 metro lines by 2016 -- at an estimated cost of 880 billion yuan ($134 billion).

Shanghai, China's commercial capital, opened its first metro line in 1995 and currently has 11 lines covering more than 420 kilometres and carrying nearly five million passengers a day, according to figures from the operator.

A series of near misses have added to the mistrust in the metro system -- including one in July on the same line where Tuesday's accident occurred, in which a train took a wrong turn during peak hours due to a signal failure. Then, no one was hurt.

In the wake of the Wenzhou crash authorities decided to limit speeds on the high-speed network to 300 kph, following allegations of widespread, high-level corruption in the rail sector, with fears that safety had been compromised.

Railways minister Liu Zhijun was sacked in February over graft charges, after he allegedly took more than 800 million yuan ($125 million) in kickbacks over several years on contracts linked to the high-speed network.

China's state auditor in March said construction companies and individuals last year siphoned off 187 million yuan in funds meant for a high-profile Beijing-Shanghai link.

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China says police investigating fatal train brawl
Beijing (AFP) Sept 27, 2011 - Police are investigating the beating to death of a train passenger in east China, officials said Tuesday, as the industry struggles to repair its reputation after a number of crashes and scandals.

Three train staff seized the middle-aged man by the throat and savagely beat him after he intervened in an argument involving another passenger, Jiangxi Television, a local station, reported on Monday.

Doctors were summoned from an emergency centre near the station in Jiangxi province where the train stopped, but the man died before they arrived, the report said, citing witnesses and the hospital.

The television report showed a document signed by 20 passengers who had witnessed the alleged beating.

"We all feel very angry about the violent beating of the passenger by the train staff," said a woman surnamed Lai who said she was in the same carriage as the man.

A spokesman for the railway ministry told AFP that railway police would handle the investigation.

The incident is the latest scandal to hit the country's railway system, which is struggling to rebuild public trust after a train crash near the eastern city of Wenzhou in July that killed at least 40 people.

On Tuesday, two subway trains in Shanghai crashed in an accident that reportedly injured more than 240, mostly lightly, and was caused by a signal failure.

In February, then railways minister Liu Zhijun was sacked over graft charges, after he allegedly took more than 800 million yuan ($125 million) in kickbacks over several years on contracts linked to China's high-speed network.

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China train maker reports surge in H1 profit
Beijing (AFP) Aug 26, 2011
A Chinese train maker said Friday its first-half net profit surged 145 percent from a year earlier after the opening of the flagship Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line. State-owned China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry Corporation (CNR), which makes trains for the new link between the two cities, said net profit was around 1.60 billion yuan ($251 million) in the first six months. ... read more

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