Home > News > Bullet trains D301 and D3115 crash in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province

Bullet trains D301 and D3115 crash in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province

A high-speed train (D301) lost drive due to lightning and while stopped, was rammed behind by another high-speed train, D3115. This took place Saturday in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. China Daily’s full coverage below:

At least 35 dead in East China train crash
Death toll has risen to 35 and 210 were injured in atrain crash and derailing accident late Saturday in East China’s Zhejiang province.
RescueLeaders urge all-out efforts
Vice premier rushes to scene
Aftermath: 23 trains suspended

[Update July 24, 2011]
Ministry of Rail apologizes.

Ministry apologizes for deadly train crash
Updated: 2011-07-25 03:51
(Xinhua)

WENZHOU – An official with China’s Ministry of Railways late Sunday delievered an apology to all passengers following a deadly train collision in the eastern province of Zhejiang, which left 35 people dead and 192 others injured.

Ministry spokesman Wang Yongping also expressed condolences to the victims and bereaved families at a press conference Sunday night.

The accident occurred at about 8:30 pm Saturday on a viaduct near the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang when bullet train D301 rear-ended D3115. The first four cars of the moving train fell off the viaduct onto the ground below. The last two cars of the stalled train derailed.

An initial investigation showed that train D3115 lost power and stalled after being struck by lightning.

A total of 132 people are still being treated in hospital, Wang said.

Twelve people remain in critical condition, said Cheng Jinguo, deputy head of the Wenzhou health bureau.

Cheng said at the press conference that 52 people who suffered slight injuries had been discharged from hospital.

Wang said the crash has caused large number of casualties and great property losses. The ministry will find out the cause through thorough investigations and take effective measures to prevent similar accidents.

Despite the accident, the spokesman said the ministry is still confident in China’s high-speed trains.

“China’s high-speed train is advanced and qualified. We have confidence in it,” he said.

However, he also said that the high-speed railway service has only operated for a short period, and its safety is confronted with many new situations and problems.

“Safety should be put as the top priority,” Wang said.

The ministry would promptly correct the mistakes and thoroughly analyze the safety system to eradicate potential risks, he said.

The damaged rails have been repaired and were ready to resume operation but the reopening was delayed by the stormy weather, according to Wang.

Wang did not say when the line would start operating again.

According to Wang, a total of 1,072 people were on the D3115 and 558 on D301 when the accident happened.

More than 1,700 residents in Wenzhou have donated blood as of Sunday night after appeals from the local blood bank, which said many of the injured needed transfusions, according to Cheng Jinguo.

Users on the popular Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo spread appeals for people to donate blood and help look for lost relatives and friends.

Officials fired

Three railway officials were fired after the collision and would be subject to investigation, said the spokesman.

The sacked officials were Long Jing, head of the Shanghai Railway Bureau; Li Jia, head of the Shanghai railway bureau’s committee of the Communist Party of China; and deputy chief of the bureau, He Shengli.

The ministry also ordered an urgent overhaul of railway and train safety nationwide.

Accounts from survivors

The deadly collision caused six cars of the trains derailed.

The first four cars of the moving train fell off the viaduct. Two carriages were piled on top of each other on the ground. One ended up in a vertical position, leaning against the viaduct.

At Wenzhou’s Kangning Hospital, which admitted 54 injured passengers, an eight-year-old boy with slight injuries was under medical observation.

His father died in the accident and his mother was still receiving emergency treatment.

“It’s my first long-distance trip,” recalled the boy, who and six of his family members were in the first carriage of the moving train.

“I heard a loud bang. Then all lights went off and the carriage began rolling. I passed out after a large baggage hit my head,” he said.

After the carriage hit the ground, the boy woke up and managed to find the gate after searching for more than 10 minutes in darkness.

“When I crawled out the coach, I saw many people crying. But I didn’t cry. I just want to find my dad and mom,” he said.

The boy saw her mother, who was in a coma, after he was brought by a passenger into the ambulance. “I shook her arms and beg her to wake up, but she didn’t speak to me,” he said.

Sixty-two-year old Feng and her family miraculously survived the tragedy by jumping from a broken window.

Feng, her husband and their 14-year-old grandson were sitting in the fourth carriage of the moving train, the one which fell of the viaduct and ended up in a vertical position.

“The lights suddenly went off. The carriage began shaking heavily and passengers were tumbling around,” said Feng, who declined to give her full name.

“We didn’t know what happened, but I instinctively shouted to my grandson, ‘Run! You run!'” Feng said.

“Then, some passengers managed to break the carriage’s window and we jumped out,” she said. “We had no idea about the height, we just jumped.”

  1. July 24th, 2011 at 06:53 | #1

    Depressing. This could — and should — have been prevented.

  2. July 24th, 2011 at 09:26 | #2

    It is obvious not enough contigency plans were formulated for unexpected failures. This accident I read was caused by lightning strike causing the power failure on the first train. However, it is unacceptable that the next train in line got no warning. A bunch of top leaders have been suspended, unfortunately it will not bring back those lost lives. I guess all engineers must operate under the motto that “What can go wrong will go wrong.”

  3. July 24th, 2011 at 11:34 | #3

    Red Line train crash in DC was pretty bad too.

    Theoretically, all accidents are “preventable”, but statistically, there will always be accidents.

  4. Alice
    July 24th, 2011 at 14:48 | #4

    @Ray
    well u c the next train did get a warning but the train was going so fast that they couldn’t stop it.

  5. July 24th, 2011 at 14:59 | #5

    The Western media will pin this horrible incident as another example of ‘bad’ government or use it to cast doubt on Chinese train technology. Just as we expect mosquito to suck a person’s blood after landing, I expect the Western media to milk this story to advance the same old narratives – insinuation of stealing foreign technology and whatnot. Sure, the main story will be just about the accident, but someone surprise me if an article doesn’t slip some of those opinions in there.

    That aside, let’s see what the investigation shows and how the rail ministry keeps the public informed.

  6. July 24th, 2011 at 15:38 | #6

    I should mention that contrary to some people’s claims (or suspicions), there have been other high speed rail accidents.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschede_train_disaster

    Germany, 1998, 101 people dead and 88 (estimated) injured, while travelling at 200 km/h.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhplyPl14HA

    Another one, Germany, 2008, crashed into Sheep, derailed.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/23/world/europe/23germany.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    2006, Germany, 23 died, maglev failure.

    http://www.vosizneias.com/62364/2010/08/17/lambrecht-charedi-man-amongst-rescued-in-germanys-high-speed-train-crash

    2010, Germany, high speed train crash into garbage truck.

  7. July 24th, 2011 at 15:45 | #7

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/17/newsid_2491000/2491425.stm

    2000, UK, Hatfield, 115mph, 4 dead, 30 injured.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Heck_rail_crash

    2001, UK, 10 dead, 82 injured. (Train was carrying 99, less than 1/5 of the 544 capacity).

  8. zack
    July 24th, 2011 at 18:11 | #8

    as much as the western press will take glee from this tragedy, it’s not going to stop the Chinese government from establishing HSR lines all over the country;
    the chinese will simply recover and move on

  9. zack
    July 24th, 2011 at 18:21 | #9

    oh and correct me if i’m wrong but the HSR train that were involved in the crash; they were the older model of HSR yes?
    not the new state of the art beijing-shanghai/wuhan-guangzhou line?

  10. July 24th, 2011 at 19:06 | #10

    China should study all those crashes worldwide and learn to implement more fail/safe measures. I didn’t know a sheep can caused a major train accident until now. For a country like China, HSR is a good replacement for air travel.

    Well, this is the reason why we have this blog. Just compare the two articles below. The one involving China is filled with political commentaries and described the accident as an embarassment to China. Can anyone with a sane mind say that the shooting in Norway is an embarassment to the country that award Nobel prize?

    Toll in Japan train crash tops 100 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7624164/

    Toddler found alive in rubble of China train crash http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43871345

  11. July 24th, 2011 at 19:25 | #11

    That this argument is being taken as an example of “bad government” has nothing to do with the Western media. Hop on Weibo for a minute and see what Chinese people (the ones who are actually in China) are saying. The vast, VAST majority blame this on the government and are very upset with the way the government is handling it.

    For example, one Weibo poll that I saw had 93% responding they were “very dissatisfied” with the way the government was handling it and that the gov’t had shown “disrespect for human life”. That poll had over 30,000 respondents the last time I checked. LESS THAN 200 said they were satisfied and that the government was doing a good job. You can check my blog for a link to this, and assuming you have a Weibo account, you should be able to see the current total yourself after you’ve voted.

    This is not some Western conspiracy, and the Western media is not distorting things if they report people are angry and they blame the government for this accident. That’s simply a fact. Hop on Weibo and see what people are saying: http://weibo.com/zt/s?k=7765&pos=0&t=tips&page=1&hasori=1&refer=Index_hot_new

    (I think you will need to have a Sina Weibo account and be logged in for that link to work)

  12. July 24th, 2011 at 19:33 | #12

    To be fair, that crash in Japan was not a technically a “high speed rail” crash.

    But that said,

    I think Germany and Japan are good lessons for China on high speed rail. Japan’s high speed rail is arguably the best, with very low accident rate.

    Germany on the other hand, quite a few accidents on its HSR, ICE (intercity express), and its new maglev had an accident during its test run.

    But Germany forged ahead, and did not shy away because of its problems.

    With Germany’s long history of engineering excellence, they know that there will always be accidents. (It’s simply statistics.) While one may have bad records, one shouldn’t stop trying.

    Similarly, a student who fails many tests, shouldn’t stop trying. Keep learning, keep practicing, eventually you get better.

    “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua did something similar to her kids. Make them drill and practice, and never stop believing that they could do the same or better than other kids.

    China’s HSR is new. It has been running that long, so it’s too early to say if China’s HSR is as bad as German’s. But that doesn’t matter, because it should be as good as Japan’s.

  13. July 24th, 2011 at 19:37 | #13

    @C. Custer

    Your blog article also stated, “Other high speed rail lines don’t seem to have these problems.”

    Yeah, OK. I WON’T take your word for it. Apparently, you don’t know how to do basic search.

    Dissatisfaction from the People is expected. They want better things in their lives. Governments respond. Opinions change.

    baseless “suspicions” are just that.

  14. July 24th, 2011 at 19:53 | #14

    raventhorn2000 :
    Red Line train crash in DC was pretty bad too.
    Theoretically, all accidents are “preventable”, but statistically, there will always be accidents.

    Maybe. But similar power failures happened to high speed trains AT LEAST six times in the past two weeks. There was plenty of warning. High-speed lines should have been closed until they figured out and resolved the glaringly obvious power issue that was affecting trains.

    Of course, NOW they’re shutting down a number of lines to do just that. But it’s too late for the 35 people who were killed in this completely preventable accident.

    @raventhorn: I just looked up Japan and France because they’re the two countries I know of with high-profile HSR programs. Germany apparently has one and has had multiple accidents. And accidents do certainly happen from time to time. But none of that changes the fact that (1) there was more than adequate warning about this problem and (2) people are pissed at the government.

    As far as “baseless suspicions”, I have no idea what you’re referring to…?

  15. Pete North
    July 24th, 2011 at 20:35 | #15

    Raven, seems you are totally out of touch with the Chinese people. The ones I speak to in China where I live are blaming the govt for this, as mirrored by the Weibo survey.

    You should come back to China if you want to know what the average Zhou thinks.

  16. July 24th, 2011 at 20:35 | #16

    I work for Chinese state media, and the most ironic thing for me is that we just ran a bunch of articles stressing the safety of the bullet trains. People were complaining that the trains automatically cut power and stop in the event of any dangerous conditions, causing delays, and the engineers were stressing “safety first.” And yet, this propensity for the trains to stop if ANYTHING is out of the ordinary is essentially why this one was rear-ended. If the trains are going to stop for hardly any reason, you have to make sure the one behind it stops too…

    http://skaughtbj.tumblr.com

  17. pug_ster
    July 24th, 2011 at 20:36 | #17

    C Custer,,

    @raventhorn: I just looked up Japan and France because they’re the two countries I know of with high-profile HSR programs. Germany apparently has one and has had multiple accidents. And accidents do certainly happen from time to time. But none of that changes the fact that (1) there was more than adequate warning about this problem and (2) people are pissed at the government.

    Japan and France has their share of accidents, but with problems due to ‘human factors’ like sucides, people caught between doors, and aging issues like trains jumping off their tracks.

    We don’t know what the problem is… yet. The the Op ED in Globaltimes says that when a train will alert the driver to slow down when a train is 4km ahead and to brake when the train is 2km. However, the problem is that the brakes must be applied manually. From an old NY times article, Japan and France does have some kind of feature that brakes are applied automatically when it detects any kind of hazard.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/12/us/us-is-seen-lagging-in-rail-safety.html

    There could be many factors which could’ve caused this problem, but we will probably find out in the next few days.

  18. July 24th, 2011 at 21:04 | #18

    pug_ster :
    C Custer,,
    @raventhorn: I just looked up Japan and France because they’re the two countries I know of with high-profile HSR programs. Germany apparently has one and has had multiple accidents. And accidents do certainly happen from time to time. But none of that changes the fact that (1) there was more than adequate warning about this problem and (2) people are pissed at the government.
    Japan and France has their share of accidents, but with problems due to ‘human factors’ like sucides, people caught between doors, and aging issues like trains jumping off their tracks.
    We don’t know what the problem is… yet. The the Op ED in Globaltimes says that when a train will alert the driver to slow down when a train is 4km ahead and to brake when the train is 2km. However, the problem is that the brakes must be applied manually. From an old NY times article, Japan and France does have some kind of feature that brakes are applied automatically when it detects any kind of hazard.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/12/us/us-is-seen-lagging-in-rail-safety.html
    There could be many factors which could’ve caused this problem, but we will probably find out in the next few days.

    Right, but whether or not the train braked would not have been an issue if the first train hadn’t been stopped. And if they had taken the time to work out the power problems that are apparently rampant on these trains, the train presumably wouldn’t have been stopped. Even if it turns out that the crash was 100% the driver’s fault — that will be awkward since netizens are mostly hailing him as a hero right now — it still wouldn’t have happened if the trains had been taken offline to fix the power problems that have been obvious to everyone for the last few weeks.

    It also isn’t going to get the government off the hook, since what people are most upset at is their response to the crash, not their hand in causing it. And you’ve got to admit, they did a pretty horrible job at least initially. At 4AM yesterday state media reported all survivors had been rescued. Then they found another one. At 7 AM they reported AGAIN that all survivors had been rescued, then yesterday afternoon they found that little girl….this does not inspire confidence that they are telling the truth (although my guess is they’re just incompetent, I don’t see why they’d intentionally lie about something like that…)

  19. Jing
    July 24th, 2011 at 22:28 | #19

    I am in wenzhou right now
    I need to know, just how many are actually dead in a train accommodating 400 people?

  20. July 24th, 2011 at 23:50 | #20

    So far, 35 people have been confirmed dead and more than 200 injured. CCTV has just reported the rail traffic in Wenzhou has resumed.

    http://english.cntv.cn/program/newsupdate/20110725/111122.shtml

  21. July 25th, 2011 at 01:24 | #21

    yinyang :
    So far, 35 people have been confirmed dead and more than 200 injured. CCTV has just reported the rail traffic in Wenzhou has resumed.
    http://english.cntv.cn/program/newsupdate/20110725/111122.shtml

    The official death toll is now 38
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-07/25/c_131008005.htm

    Keep an eye on this though. it’s a google spreadsheet some netizens are working on to list the dead based on official reports and Weibo reports. Right now, it also lists 38 names, but it’s been moving upward all day (this morning there were only 21).

  22. July 25th, 2011 at 01:56 | #23

    @C. Custer
    See my latest post. CCTV reports Ministry of Rail to publish names of deceased (watch the embedded CCTV report.)

  23. July 25th, 2011 at 05:45 | #24

    “Of course, NOW they

  24. July 25th, 2011 at 05:47 | #25

    “Of course, NOW they’re shutting down a number of lines to do just that. But it’s too late for the 35 people who were killed in this completely preventable accident.”

    EVERY accident is completely “preventable” with 20/20 hindsight vision!!

    If it was completely foreseeable, no one would have gone onto those HSR trains!!

    You are not an engineer. I was one for 12 years. Whether a problem is “foreseeable”/preventable is a matter of engineering OPINIONs, (ESPECIALLY when “lightning” is involved). What do you want them to do, shut down the system ahead of the time, and WAIT for a lightning to strike??!!

    *
    “I just looked up Japan and France because they’re the two countries I know of with high-profile HSR programs. Germany apparently has one and has had multiple accidents. And accidents do certainly happen from time to time. But none of that changes the fact that (1) there was more than adequate warning about this problem and (2) people are pissed at the government.”

    GERMANY has a lot of HSR’s running, Your neglect was completely “preventable”, and you should have refrained from making generalized statements. And now you are caught with it.

    “Adequate warning”?? You saw the warnings, did you predict an HSR accident involving “lightning” strikes?! Nope. (General doomsayings about HSR don’t count, because “accidents do certainly happen from time to time”!!!!!)

    “people are pissed at the government”. I don’t make generalizations about online polls, or Weibo’s 20000-40000 participants (out of 450 million Chinese online users). And frankly, I would worry if people found the government in China as popular as Bush Jr’s early ratings.

    People are pissed at the government in lots of countries, including in US.

    People are pissed at the government “from time to time”!! (A lot less in China according to polls).

  25. July 25th, 2011 at 05:55 | #26

    “power problems that are apparently rampant on these trains”.

    If power problems are rampant, none of the trains would be able to get to their destinations.

    A few incidents here there due to “lightning” are not even replicateable, (and therefore cannot be easily diagnosed, analyzed, or prevented).

    So I don’t know what you mean by “rampant”. (Another one of your generalizations that carry little meaning).

    AGAIN, CUSTER, you are not an engineer (nor any expert in the technical fields). It is clear that you are using 20/20 hindsight to make flimsy non-scientific non-expert conclusions about what is/isn’t “preventable”.

  26. July 25th, 2011 at 05:58 | #27

    “But similar power failures happened to high speed trains AT LEAST six times in the past two weeks.”

    Where is the citation for this claim?

    And did you foresee an HSR accident involving “power failures”?

  27. Chops
    July 25th, 2011 at 06:08 | #28

    The first four cars of the moving train fell off the viaduct onto the ground below. The last two cars of the stalled train derailed.

    It would appear most of the casualties came from the moving train instead of the stalled train, and injuries resulting from sudden deceleration from high speed, and the subsequent fall from height of viaduct.

    If the passengers wore seat belts at the time of impact, assuming the moving train was equipped, it might have reduced the injuries considerably.

  28. July 25th, 2011 at 06:36 | #29

    “But similar power failures happened to high speed trains AT LEAST six times in the past two weeks.”

    I looked into it. (And your non-expert generalization of the cause of the “power failures” is, expectedly, superficial and not very well researched, as your generalization about “other railway systems do not seem to have the same problems”).

    Those earlier power failures were NOT on specific trains, but rather entire lines, where all trains on the lines were halted.

    This crash is the first one involving 1 train halting, and a 2nd train still moving on the same line and same track. (This is unusual, because lightning strikes generally would cause the electric lines on the railways to shut off, and not cause individual trains to stall but the rail line electricity to be unaffected).

    (BTW, my father was an engineer lecturer professor at the formerly named “Shanghai Railway University”, now branch campus of Tongji University. And I rode on railways every weekend when I was a kid in Shanghai.)

  29. July 25th, 2011 at 06:41 | #30

    PS to CUSTER,

    It’s great that on your blog, both you and SK Cheung (and some others) admit that NONE of you are experts in engineering (or trains), but keep claiming that the entire incident is “avoidable”/preventable, while talking non-specifically about the exact nature of the cause.

    I think you reached a new low in “speculations”. (How do you know an accident is “avoidable”/preventable, when you are not an expert, and you don’t even know the exact cause??!!)

  30. July 25th, 2011 at 07:49 | #31

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Zoufftgen_rail_crash

    BTW, France did have a serious HSR accident in 2006, 6 dead, head on collision, caused by incompatible power systems on rail line between France and Luxemberg.

  31. July 25th, 2011 at 08:47 | #32

    All accidents are prevetable, including this recent crash. However, if you try to imply that this incident is “more preventable” than accidents in other countries because it happened in China, you simply don’t know how deep your own prejudice lies.

    And the outrage shown on weibo simply show that democracy is alive and well in China. If you want to use weibo poll as a guide you should also know that most netizens in China are angry with Chinese govn’t weakness in dealing with the South China seas issue as well. Not to mention US selling of arms to Taiwan. And also try reading a poll on the popularity of the Dalai Lama, Liu Xiaobo etc.

  32. July 25th, 2011 at 18:31 | #33

    raventhorn2000 :
    PS to CUSTER,
    It’s great that on your blog, both you and SK Cheung (and some others) admit that NONE of you are experts in engineering (or trains), but keep claiming that the entire incident is “avoidable”/preventable, while talking non-specifically about the exact nature of the cause.
    I think you reached a new low in “speculations”. (How do you know an accident is “avoidable”/preventable, when you are not an expert, and you don’t even know the exact cause??!!)

    http://blog.english.caing.com/article/361/

    “Caixin has published a technical piece on the China Train Control System (CTCS), the train operation technology used by both trains involved in the crash. The system, wholly-controlled by an automated computer system, transmits information and monitors speed, taking into account inclement weather conditions like wind, rain and snow.

    The report includes videos and explanations from the technology’s designers, and concludes that the accident was entirely preventable had the system been in full force. According to the system’s designs, the traffic control center should have detected the D3115’s slowdown and subsequent halting, and then notified any trains coming up from behind.”

  33. July 25th, 2011 at 18:37 | #34

    “Caixin has published a technical piece on the China Train Control System (CTCS), the train operation technology used by both trains involved in the crash. The system, wholly-controlled by an automated computer system, transmits information and monitors speed, taking into account inclement weather conditions like wind, rain and snow.
    The report includes videos and explanations from the technology’s designers, and concludes that the accident was entirely preventable had the system been in full force. According to the system’s designs, the traffic control center should have detected the D3115’s slowdown and subsequent halting, and then notified any trains coming up from behind.“
    1 non-expert reading a technical marketing presentation doesn’t give any reasonable conclusions. There is no support for that conclusion.
    “According to the system’s designs, the traffic control center should have detected the D3115’s slowdown and subsequent halting, and then notified any trains coming up from behind.”
    Is that even the actual cause of the accident? The control center failed to “notify the trains coming up from behind”??
    I thought you said it was freaking lightning, and power system failure that was preventable, not the “failure to notify”!!!
    Do you even READ what you cite???

  34. July 25th, 2011 at 18:40 | #35

    Moronic amateurs all making conclusions about technical problems that they have NO clues about.
    Preventable? Loud mouthed ignorami are FAR more preventable than lightning strike power failures!!

  35. Black Pheonix
    December 7th, 2013 at 13:01 | #36

    NY commute train derails, upon going over more than 2 times the speed limit on a curve. Driver distraction again, just like the 1 in Spain.

    So, get this, there was a warning system on the train for the overspeed, but NOT in the operator’s compartment!

    How “preventable”?? Totally.

  36. Black Pheonix
    July 18th, 2014 at 10:15 | #37

    French HSR crash July 18, 2014.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10974939/High-speed-train-crash-in-France-injures-25.html

    Similar to the Wenzhou crash, 1 train stopped, (later restarted), and another train crashed into it from behind.

    Fortunately, no one died, but some were seriously injured. (The low casualty rate was perhaps due to the fact that the 1st train was able to move, thus decreased impact speed).

    Now, this was attributed to maintenance problem. (Which is actually quite preventable).

    What’s worse? A new HSR in China having problems because there are still unknown bugs in the new system? Or an old HSR in France having problems because they no longer spend the money to prevent KNOWN problems?

  37. Zack
    July 18th, 2014 at 14:26 | #38

    @Black Pheonix
    the worst problem for readers of western MSM is that previously considered inferior Chinese people are now besting white people at hi tech-that’s of more urgent concern

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