News Analysis: Subway collision in S.Korea reminiscent of ferry disaster [Xinhua]

by Yoo Seungki

SEOUL, May 3 (Xinhua) — The subway collision in South Korea, where an incoming train crashed into the back of another that had stopped, was reminiscent of the ferry sinking disaster that occurred just over two weeks ago as human errors were the main cause of the two accidents.

One train pulling into the Sangwangshimri station in the east of Seoul rear-ended another train at 3:30 p.m. local time Friday, leaving 249 people injured. Most of them sustained minor injuries such as bruises and abrasions, but three had surgeries for a fracture and two were waiting for surgery. No fatalities were reported.

The two trains of the Line No. 2 collided as traffic signs did not work and caused a failure in automatic train stop (ATS), the Seoul Metro, which operates four subway lines including the second one, said in a statement Saturday.

The ATS, installed in all Seoul subways, is designed to keep the distance between trains at least 200 meters apart. When a train nears 200 meters of another, the train automatically stops.

The subway operator said the traffic sign was blue at that time and caused the ATS not to work. In normal times, the signal should have been red to tell the driver to stop the train or the ATS to work.

The faulty devices will be attributable to the poor maintenance or the unskilled handling, indicating human errors caused the accident. The subway operator said the signal failure came three days after the traffic data revision.

The moving train, which was running at the speed of 68 km per hour, made an emergency stop, but it rammed into the back of the other train at the speed of 15 km per hour as the braking distance was too short.

The rear train’s driver could have had troubles in detecting the stationary train soon enough to prevent the crash as the curved tunnel into the station is around 500 meters long, a Seoul Metro official told Xinhua. The driver can notice the other train just 120 meters ahead of it. More attention should have been paid in such tracks…

Excerpted; full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2014-05/03/c_133306970.htm

Also see related article: “South Korean subway collision leaves 238 injured” [World Socialist Website] – https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/05/kore-m05.html

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