Drills to produce safer Metro stations

Metro station staff, Metro police, local police and subdistrict governments are cooperating on how to handle large crowds in emergencies.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A police officer and a station official lead evacuation procedures during a drill at Kangxin Highway Metro Station on Line 11 in Pudong yesterday. A fast exit is the name of the game.

Big crowds can mean big problems when the Metro breaks down.

Technical glitches occur on all the world's subways, and Shanghai is seeking better ways to handle the problems that arise when something goes amiss, especially during peak hours.

Station staff and the city's Metro police are increasingly being assisted by local police officers and subdistrict government officials to handle large crowds when problems strike the system.

Drills are being held to make this new security mechanism more efficient. One such drill was held at Kangxin Highway Metro Station on Line 11 in Pudong on Thursday morning.

When the drill started, station staff, security guards and Metro police quickly moved to their positions by the escalators, turnstiles and in the concourses to help people quickly exit the station and to prevent stampedes.

Police officers from Hengmian police station arrive within 10 minutes of being called, and helped exiting passengers to resume their trips by taking buses.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The "coordination drills" have been taking place around the city in the past five months since the new "security mechanism" to tackle huge crowds at Metro stations was introduced in April.

The model has already been put into practice several times since April, mostly during morning peak hours.

On the morning of August 21, the mechanism was activated at Guanglan Road Station on Line 2 as the trains were slowed down between Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and Zhangjiang High-Tech Park stations due to signal equipment faults.

Earlier this year, due to power supply glitches on Line 9, similar measures were implemented from Songjiang University Town to Jiuting stations on the morning of April 14.

Pan Haitao, an officer from the Disneyland station Metro police squad, said activation of the mechanism is determined both by observation of the crowd and numbers of people in the stations. The squad handles Disneyland, Kangxin Highway and Xiuyan Road stations.

“Usually when we see that there are so many people on the platform that they rub shoulders against each other when moving, or when an at least 15 minutes of delay is predicted, the mechanism will come into play,” he said.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

In most cases the director of a station identifies safety hazards and informs Metro police, who in turn engage their colleagues from local police stations when necessary.

Pan said the mechanism cuts through administration boundaries between Metro police and local police. “If necessary, they will enter the stations to help us manage the crowd, but otherwise their job doesn’t cover what goes on within Metro stations,” he said.

He added that in case of fire or terrorist attacks, police can also take the initiative to activate the mechanism.

Metro police say the mechanism is working well, but with each drill improvements are being made in all aspects, especially in more timely arrangements of buses to transport the Metro passengers from the stations.

The drills are held outside of peak hours due to safety concerns.

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