by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Sept 28, 2011
A metro crash in China's commercial capital Shanghai sparked fresh fears Wednesday 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 on Tuesday injured more than 280 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 for 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."
The newspaper linked the accident to a fire that killed 58 people in a high-rise residential building in Shanghai last November, saying both incidents revealed that despite its modern appearance it was "still a developing city".
Welders accidentally ignited nylon netting around the building, but the companies involved were later found to have won contracts from local officials who accepted bribes.
Authorities have launched an investigation into exactly how the metro accident occurred on line 10, which was only opened in 2010.
But web users set little store by the probe, using China's hugely popular social networking sites to criticise repeated safety failures.
"An investigation team has been set up again. Who will trust it again? Should the same mistake not be corrected before it is repeated 100 times by the blood of ordinary people?" Tang Feng posted on Sina's Weibo, China's biggest microblog.
Much of the public anger focused on Chinese-French joint venture CASCO Signal, which provided the signalling equipment involved in the Shanghai metro accident, according to the citys metro operator.
CASCO is a venture between French transport and power giant Alstom and state-owned China Railway Signal & Communication Corp.
Chinese state media have reported that the signalling system implicated in the Wenzhou train crash was supplied by the same company.
"What kind of power and connections are behind the company to make both high-speed rail and subway stick to it?", economist Ma Guangyuan of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences wrote in the National Business Daily.
"It remains safe and intact in one after another accident and continues to develop rapidly, amid fast expansion of subway construction in various cities."
Business daily Shanghai Securities News ran a critical story headlined "How many times will CASCO signals go wrong again?".
It said CASCO supplied signalling systems for at least six metro lines in Shanghai, as well as the high-speed railway.
Dominique Pouliquen, the president of Alstom China, told AFP that CASCO was "participating in the ongoing investigation," without commenting further.
The number of passengers taking line 10 had dropped visibly on Wednesday, Shanghai television reported. A section of the line remained closed for safety checks.
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China metro crash injures 271
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 o ... read more
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