Suspended bullet service sends some to planes
Updated: 2011-07-25 13:32
By Yu Ran (China Daily)
SHANGHAI - The fatal train accident that occurred on Saturday night in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, has left many passengers uneasy about using high-speed rail services, especially during bad weather.
Thirty-five passengers were killed and 192 injured in the accident, which caused the suspension of 58 bullet trains to Wenzhou, Fuzhou and Xiamen on Sunday.
"We received instructions from the Ministry of Railways this morning on halting ticket sales for 'D' category trains heading to Shanghai and Beijing until tomorrow and we have stopped selling tickets for Fuzhou and Xiamen until the end of Sunday," said a senior officer at the Wenzhou railway station, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
All bullet services ('D' category) traveling between Ningbo, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Fuzhou and Xiamen were cancelled on Sunday.
A total of 28 trains headed to Wenzhou were also forced to terminate in Ningbo, Zhejiang province on Sunday because of the accident.
Starting Sunday morning, full refunds were available immediately at railway stations in Shanghai and Wenzhou. As of 5 pm, the number of refunds for those who had been scheduled to travel to Wenzhou and Fuzhou exceeded 500 at Shanghai South Railway Station.
"I've already booked a full-fare flight back to Wenzhou, which I think definitely is the safest option for me at the moment," said Wang Biyun, a 45-year-old woman whose rail ticket to Yueqing for Monday was refunded, less a 20 percent commission fee.
Although rail authorities said crews would try to restore service quickly, heavy rain and lightning in Wenzhou hampered clean-up work and delayed the resumption of operations.
"I just bought a ticket for D3011 on July 29 yesterday (Saturday) from Wenzhou to Shanghai and I wanted to get a refund and buy a flight ticket back to Shanghai instead," said Chen Daoyi, a male resident of Shanghai who takes high-speed trains every two weeks between Shanghai and Wenzhou.
Chen added that transport safety was weighing on travelers' minds after a series of delays and suspensions for high-speed trains because of inclement summer weather.
Many people who must travel between Shanghai and Wenzhou for business or family visits said they can hardly avoid taking high-speed trains, which are convenient and efficient.
"I have no choice but to take high-speed trains, which are the fastest and a relatively safe mode of transportation compared with road or air travel," said Pei Cong, a manager of a logistics company in Shanghai who often travels between Shanghai and Wenzhou by high-speed train or car.
Pei added that the latest train accident had destroyed his confidence in rail transportation, which is supposed to be the safest form of travel in China.
There are about 30 high-speed trains to Wenzhou that pass through Shanghai every day.
However, some people maintain their faith in the quality and management of high-speed trains to operate in good weather.
"As the media reported that the main causes of the accident were bad weather and mistakes made in the scheduling and communications of two trains, that shouldn't affect the operation of high-speed trains in the future," said Ni Shuangyue, a female resident from Wenzhou.
She said she believes that railway authorities will pay more attention to the movements of delayed trains and avoid similar accidents.
To help passengers of all suspended trains reach their destinations on time, bus stations and airports prepared to improve the flow of people.
"We've already added three extra coaches to Wenzhou and two extra coaches to Fuzhou on Sunday, sending hundreds of passengers to their destinations successfully," Zhang Yongbin, director of the Shanghai Long-Distance Bus Station.
Zhang added that the bus station is ready at any time to arrange more coaches to meet the increasing demand for seats to Wenzhou and Fuzhou later on Sunday and Monday as well.