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Wenzhou train crash probe blames human error

(Global Times)

15:07, September 15, 2011

A member of the investigation team probing the train crash in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, confirmed that equipment defects and human error had caused the accident.

The anonymous source from the investigation team set up by the State Council said that improperly designed signal equipment failed after being hit by lightning, the Shanghai-based National Business Daily (NBD) reported.

The source said that human error and poor management had also played a role in causing the accident, the report said.

On July 23, train D3115 stopped over a viaduct near Wenzhou after experiencing power failure. As it stood motionless on the lines, train D301 crashed into it and several carriages plummeted off the side of the viaduct, killing 40 people and injuring at least 192.

The investigation team promised to draw up a written report before September 15 and announce the findings by the middle of the month.

It was reported that the signal system was functioning correctly four minutes before the accident. However, lightning then damaged the system and train D301 was ordered to pass rather than slow down or stop.

The signal system encountered over 100 lightning strikes within seven minutes that day, a rare occurrence in Wenzhou. But the possibility of such extreme conditions was not taken into consideration by the designers, the anonymous insider revealed.

The equipment was supplied by Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of the Signal and Communication Co, which is affiliated with the China Railway Signal and Communication Co (CRSC), one of three enterprises owned by the Ministry of Railways.

"The same equipment is currently used in more than 50 stations. Ways to improve the equipment are being studied. Whether they will all be replaced is still uncertain, since the equipment runs smoothly in those places that are not hit by lightning," said the insider.

There are also many problems with the management, including insufficient coordination between the departments and staff members being unprofessional, said the report.

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PD User at 2011-09-15202.158.179.*
It is quite obvious that the problem lies with the top management of the railways for the following reasons: 1. From the perspective of safety, which is fundamental to every industrial endeavour, they were using equipment that had not been fully proven. For e.g. the signalling equipment used on their system within China, were unable to withstand the worst weather condition that could occur in any part of the country. It is baffling to read that they cannot decide, even now, whether or not to replace such flawed equipment on their system in other parts of China. 2. The training given to the operational staff is clearly inadequate. With a train stopped dead on track, an order was not issued to stop all train movements within a given distance of the stopped train. Actually this should have happened automatically, if the overall safety system was working. As a traveller on subways, even an ordinary person like myself, is conscious of this minimum safety requirement. 3. As in all industrial activities, there should be a realisation that safety must be given top priority, not profit nor the vanity of any top management. The number of coal mine disasters and similar accidents all show a total ignorance of SAFETY CULTURE. Priority has gone to a) making profit, and (b) in fanning egos of management, like getting headlines for some superficial "achievement". I hope it is realized that this train accident is a lesson not just for the railways, but for all industries in this country. The mad rush after money has affected the entire nation, generating corruption across the whole gamut of social activities: government officials, shopkeepers, foodstuff manufacturers, surgeons and doctors, footballers, educators, writers... The list is endless. It’s high time that something is done to rectify the skew, else we would all end up going to the dogs.
PD User at 2011-09-15183.39.39.*
Railway management has a long history of mismanagement and poor working ethics!
  

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