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Manufacturer addresses Kunming metro safety, comfort concerns

By : GoKunming|Updated: 2011-10-31

On October 29 local reporters were given their first look at the train cars that, beginning in June of next year, will transport passengers around town via the city's planned metro system.

Deputy Engineer Yang Yin (杨颖) of China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd (CSR) met with journalists at the company's plant in Zhuzhou, Hunan province to discuss two of the bigger questions hanging over the light rail network, which is currently under construction.

Given public safety concerns about light rail transport since the Shanghai subway crash that injured nearly 300 people in late September and the collision of two bullet trains near Wenzhou in July that killed 40 people, CSR's Yang was compelled to explain the safety features of the metro system, and why potential passengers should not fear similar collisions.

"The subway's signal system is controlled by a computer, and within the controlling system, each train will have sensing antennae installed," Yang said. "The antennae will transmit information such as car location to the controlling platform, with computers automatically directing the conductors of each train."

The planned maximum speed for trains plying the Kunming metro's first phase is 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour), which would be the fastest light rail speed in western China. The planned maximum speed for the upcoming line linking the city with the soon-to-open Kunming Changshui International Airport (昆明长水国际机场) will reach 120 km/hour.

Yang said the stopping distance for a train traveling at 100 km/hr was less than 300 meters and that as soon as one train comes within that distance of another the rear train will be automatically forced to make an emergency stop. Should the computer system suffer a malfunction, responsibility for avoiding an accident will fall upon controlling platform personnel.

In addition to safety, comfot is also a question. Kunming is renowned for being the "city of eternal spring", but there are times of the year when the mercury can be well above or below most people's comfort zones. CSR's Yang told reporters that originally there were no plans for air conditioning or heating for the metro system.

Cooling and ventilation fans were later added to the plans, but the metro will not have a heating system, Yang said. Lack of heating could make for some cold riding, should the city experience unexpectedly cold weather. Nearly nine kilometers of the initial phase of metro construction will be above the ground, where cars will not benefit from the insulating effect of being underground.

Double-layered reflective glass will be relied upon to prevent Kunming's high-altitude sunlight from making metro cars uncomfortably hot, Yang said.

A southern portion of Line 1 of Kunming's light rail network, linking Wangjiaying Station (王家营站) with Chenggong North Station (呈贡北站) is scheduled to go operational on June 30, 2012. (Source:GoKunming)