Shanghai subway train crash injures 271, inspires new bout of sarcasm and cynicism

September 27, 2011Jing GaoOne Comment, , , , , ,

Photos from Weibo and Wenxuecity

At around 2:50 p.m. on Tuesday, a subway train on Shanghai’s Metro Line 10, which connects downtown Shanghai, the city’s airport and several universities and tourist attractions, was rear-ended by another after an automated signal system failure at around 2:10 p.m. caused controllers to switch to manual operation by telephone. The collision, two months after a deadly train crash in Wenzhou, injured 271, whereas no death has been reported.


Photos of the accident scene were immediately uploaded to Sina Weibo, a service akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook.


More than 500 people were evacuated from the two trains, with 62 ambulances sent to the scene, Shanghai Metro said. Of the injured, 30 are under observation; about 20 were seriously injuried, none with life-threatening injuries, Xu Jianguang, director of the Shanghai Health Bureau, said at a press conference yesterday evening.


In July, one bullet train running full speed slammed into another, which came into a halt early on, following a fatal signal system glitch that failed to calibrate the speed of the rest of the trains running on the same line, killing 40 people.


The chaotic coach of the subway train.


A firefighter enters a coach of the crashed subway train.


Passengers in panic despite being intact.


Road congestion caused by the accident, paralysis of the metro line and mass evacuation.

The supplier of the signal system used by the high speed line in Wenzhou is the same as that of the Metro Line 10, Casco, a joint venture between the French company Alstom and a Chinese company.

The previous train crash drew harsh criticism and indignation for wreaking immense havoc on bereft families and the government’s callous handling and secrecy. By contrast, this accident, luckily with no death, thanks to the much lower speed of the subway train, has invited biting sarcasm, dry humor and witty cynicism.

A Sina Weibo user named “Wen Sanwa” parodied an announcement from Shanghai Metro, writing, “Because we have invested all our precious and yet limited manpower on inspecting passengers’ baggage, we are too short-staffed to conduct regular testing on the equipment and controller system. Hope that all passengers can understand and support our job.” Another Weibo user simply wrote, “My handbag is obviously safer than your train.” The post is shared by over 1,400 users.


Screen shot of the prime time news report about the subway train crash.

China Central Television, a state broadcast, reported in its prime time news program that “Subway Trains on Shanghai’s Metro Line 10 Encounters A Low-Degree Rear-end Collision.” Netizens unhappy with the state’s effort to downplay the accident have begun to make liberal use of the Chinese word “qingdu,” literally “low-degree,” to mock the understatement.

呜大大 I feel sick to a low degree.//@创业家杂志:I am shocked to a low degree.//张山斯 I am furious to a low degree. //@姚晨:I’ve shared it to a low degree. //@趙天宇导演: I am rear-ended to a low degree.// @尹丽川 :I have shacked up to a low degree.// @阿美1016 :I have got crazy to a low degree. // @潘石屹 :I am retarded to a low degree.// @刘春 :I have aged to a low degree. // @文怡 :I am hungry to a low degree. // @衔泥燕儿 :I am gloomy to a low degree.// @山间别薯 : I am low to a low degree.


Netizens dug out a photo of officials in Suzhou wearing hardhats to test-ride the city’s first subway line. A microblog post commented, “The latest way to ride a subway train” – now it seems it is actually the right way to do! Very necessary! Hurry up to buy a steel helmet tomorrow! Or at least get a woven rattan one! And try your best to get seated in the cars in the middle.


One even juxtaposed the test-ride photo with ones of Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, and British Prime Minister David Cameron riding subway trains for everyday commute. “Our leaders do have an idea of what they are doing,” commented one user.


A net user also found a news article published in 2005 on the website of the state-run Xinhua News Agency, which asserts that “Shanghai will never have a subway rear-end collision.” The article opens with, “The rear-end collision of subway trains in Thailand has raised citizens’ concerns that Shanghai’s transit line may have a similar accident. Zhu Xiaojie, a former director of security for the Shanghai Metro, boasted that Shanghai has an array of regulations and rules regarding safety operation, and it is armed with “Automatic Train Control” system, which make sure no accident can take place.” The rest of the article brags about the state-of-the-art system and what measures Shanghai’s subway network would take in the event of a signal failure to ensure safety. “And they said Chairman Mao could live ten thousand years,” a user commented.

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1 comment to “Shanghai subway train crash injures 271, inspires new bout of sarcasm and cynicism”

  1. [...] which some netizens replied, “I am angered to a low degree.” Unfortunately in modern China, 270 (or more) injuries isn’t a shocking aberration, but [...]

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