Signal failure leaves Line 2 passengers stranded

Complicated system may be replaced by the end of this year to ensure smoother running on Shanghai's busiest Metro line.

People wait outside Longyang Road Station after a signal glitch hit Metro Line 2 during the morning rush on Wednesday.

A signal failure on Metro Line 2 at 5:04am yesterday led to massive problems, with passengers stuck in Metro stations during the morning rush.

Engineers needed five hours to fix the problem.

Passengers going to Pudong airport were advised to take the maglev train at Longyang Road Station, where they could board the train for free with a note of apology from Metro.

Trains operating between Shanghai Science and Technology Museum to Guanglan Road stations were delayed for more than 30 minutes. The impact soon affected passengers taking connecting lines. At Luoshan Road and Longyang Road stations staff were advising passengers to take other forms of public transport. The transfer channel at Longyang Road Station was closed to restrict passenger flow. From Longyang Road to Middle Chuangxin Road stations, a shuttle bus service was in operation but there were complaints the buses could only take a small proportion of the stranded passengers.

A passenger surnamed Gu said that outside Longyang Road there was a sea of people trying to use the shuttle service. Fu Xiaoyang, who works at Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park, said he waited for a bus for more than an hour before he gave up and hailed a cab. “I was lucky to catch one,” said Fu. “It isn’t easy to find cabs at morning rush hour.”

The city’s traffic authority said that by the time Line 2 was back operating normally 250 buses had taken some 56,000 commuters from Metro stations, with police and volunteers helping stranded passengers.

Office worker Fang Le took Line 2 at 8:20am at Weining Road but soon found the train packed. “People at Jiangsu Road couldn’t get on the train,” said Fang. “I was wondering what was going on this morning.”

Metro operators started to restrict the passenger flow at People’s Square around 10am to ease the congestion.

On social media, “Line 2 breakdown” became a top search. More than 111,000 people were tweeting about the glitch.

Many passengers chose shared bikes instead of public transport during the breakdown. According to Mobike, demand around Longyang Road was up by more than 16 percent compared to normal days. Ofo said it doubled bike dispatch frequency around Metro stations to meet demand.

The glitch was fixed at 10:08am. The Metro operators apologized and said it had taken over five hours to solve the delay mainly because of the complicated signal system.

Maintenance staff said it had been difficult to locate the problem as the system involved dozens of cables, some of which were linked to other Metro lines. Care had to be taken to avoid another breakdown.

Yin Jun, head of the Metro’s operations management, said the signal system on Line 2 would possibly be updated by the end of this year to make city’s busiest line run more efficiently and smoothly. The current signal system had been in operation for 18 years.

Passengers stranded during the breakdown can go to their Metro station for a refund within the next seven working days, authorities said.

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