Sun, May 04, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Mechanical failure cited in Seoul subway collision

AFP, SEOUL

A malfunctioning automatic stopping system caused the collision of two subway trains in Seoul on Friday, officials said yesterday.

A moving train slammed into the rear of another, which had stopped at Sangwangsimni station in eastern Seoul on Friday afternoon, leaving more than 200 people injured. One elderly woman was seriously hurt, while more than 150 required some sort of treatment — mainly for cuts and sprains.

The accident was a fresh blow to a country still reeling from the April 16 Sewol ferry tragedy that left 302 dead or missing — most of them high-school students — after the ship capsized and sank.

“The Automatic Train Stop system (ATS) installed at Sangwangsimni station failed to function properly,” Seoul Metro president Chang Jung-woo told journalists.

ATS is designed to control the distance between trains and should have activated when the two trains were within 200m of each other. The system malfunctioned, letting the following train come too close to the stationary train, leaving little time for the driver to brake, Chang said.

The tunnel curves before entering Sangwangsimni station and the driver did not see that the platform was occupied until too late, Chang added.

The last two carriages of the stationary train appeared to have been thrown off the rails by the impact and TV footage showed cracked windows on the trains. One door connecting two carriages had been knocked off its hinges.

Train service on the No. 2 subway line returned to normal early Saturday.

Seoul’s subway network is one of the busiest in the world, carrying around 5.25 million passengers a day, data from Seoul City Hall showed.

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