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184 comments

Collision (5, Informative)

robertl234 (787648) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857308)

According to reports, a lightning strike caused the first train to lose power and was subsuequently rear-ended by a second train.

Re:Collision (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857332)

You and your fancy "facts". Go away, we are trying to get a good rant going on the hubris of Chinese industrialization.

Re:Collision (5, Insightful)

Aboroth (1841308) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857420)

Presumably, there should have been some kind of safety system in place to deal with a relatively common natural phenomenon called lightning. Or, just the amazingly easy to predict general problem of power loss. But clearly, you are correct, the Chinese can do no wrong here.

or some basic railway safety like a working signal (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857572)

or some basic railway safety like a working signal system that stops a train on the same track from hitting one in front of it with a block size that gives it time to slow down and or stop before it even gets to the block that the train in front of it is in. Also do they have a treat a black signal as a red one?

Re:or some basic railway safety like a working sig (2)

canadian_right (410687) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858436)

Or the lightning is the new official story because they don't want to admit the train derailed due to shoddy construction caused by rampant corruption.

Need some confirmation of what happened.

Re:Collision (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857386)

Isn't there someone in charge of monitoring the position and speed of every train, and communicating to each train whether they should slow down or stop to avoid a collision? If so, that's the system that failed -- not the trains.

Re:Collision (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857522)

The standard system for the US and, as far as I know for most of the world, is called "block signals". These red/amber/green lights show if a train is in the section of track ahead and has been used for over a hundred years. Have the designers in China abandoned this?

Re:Collision (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857552)

Most high speed rail isn't suing this system, because at high speeds it's not sufficient.
On the other hand, this was a 'normal' train, traveling at speeds where block signals are normally in use.
With a power failure at night, a failed block signal might not be detectable though.
In France the TGVs carry explosives (fireworks, basically) to put on the rails one kilometer ahead of a failed train, to warn the oncoming train of a problem. This requires getting out of the train and one kilometer ahead of it in time though.

Re:Collision (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857770)

What good is that going to do? You can't stop one of those trains that fast.

Re:Collision (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858412)

You can see a lit flare from quite a bit of distance, several kilometers away usually.

but (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858662)

In France the TGVs carry explosives (fireworks, basically) to put on the rails one kilometer ahead of a failed train, to warn the oncoming train of a problem.

At one kilometre ahead of the stopped train, they arent going to warn of anything coming up behind the stopped train

Re:Collision (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857678)

Have the designers in China abandoned this?

No, they just haven't copied it yet.

Re:Collision (5, Informative)

Chep (25806) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857806)

you can't actually read the signals, when the train travels > 250km/h. Even in 1980, designers of the TGV (270 then, 320-350km/h now) knew this, and the signalling is done using what is called <i>cab-signal</i>, which puts the display within the cabin.

Some slower but WAY busier lines also need to get away with the old block system, in order to reduce the spacing. In Paris, the two primary suburban lines (RER A and B) use what is called 'permissive' spacing, (SACEM on A, KVBP or KCVP on B), in order to reduce space between trains -- SACEM can space trains under 5 meters apart under stressed conditions.

But the key point of these advanced signalling systems is that the train-spacing software MUST be perfect. Not just "bug-free, we tested and deployed and ITIL'd the thing to death" but "mathematically proven bug-free". And even that doesn't cut it. Read up on how the SACEM hardware works, for instance. Or on the "Methode B" used to design the SACEM and the SAET (the latter of which powers automatic lines such as M14 and now M1 in Paris. SAET can safely take even a 110 year-old manually driven train within the robotic shuttle traffic, and get everyone safe there).

Back to China, perhaps the strike broke some communication line, making the position of the stopped train 'unknown'. But if that happened, someone much worse must have happened as well.

Perhaps, by cutting corners everywhere, they've also cut on the provably bug-free programming which one MUST use to build the train-spacing software. THAT, if that happened, is criminal.

Perhaps they've cut corners on brakes. Or whatever.

Hopefully for them, that's a fixable bug....

Re:Collision (0)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858468)

you can't actually read the signals, when the train travels > 250km/h. Even in 1980, designers of the TGV (270 then, 320-350km/h now) knew this, and the signalling is done using what is called cab-signal, which puts the display within the cabin.

You can simply put several signal posts in a row, and read the red/amber/green streak that goes by the cabin.

Some slower but WAY busier lines also need to get away with the old block system, in order to reduce the spacing.

Ah, the good old "throw safety out of the window to increase profits" way of managing things.

In Paris, the two primary suburban lines (RER A and B) use what is called 'permissive' spacing, (SACEM on A, KVBP or KCVP on B), in order to reduce space between trains -- SACEM can space trains under 5 meters apart under stressed conditions.

Seeing how this is less than the length of a single train car, why don't you just join the trains? Or build more rails, or if that is impossible, build a subway?

5 meters is an insanely close spacing even for regular cars in suburban speeds; for trains, it's insane.

Re:Collision (1, Troll)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857658)

Isn't there someone in charge of monitoring the position and speed of every train, and communicating to each train whether they should slow down or stop to avoid a collision? If so, that's the system that failed -- not the trains.

There's an easy way to fix that. Strap a safety engineer, or politician who wants more and faster trains, to the front of every bullet train. I guarantee you that they will find ways to improve the safety and reporting systems.

Re:Collision (1, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857394)

how come this never happens in the US? all our train accidents are caused by engineers texting their wives and girlfriends

Re:Collision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857410)

Texting should be banned for the good of humanity

Re:Collision (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857702)

Texting should be banned for the good of humanity

The same could be said about wives and girlfriends.

Re:Collision (1)

Keruo (771880) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857520)

Mostly because there aren't trains which travel at/over 200mph in USA
There are only ongoing plans to renovate rail sections to accomodate those speeds.

Re:Collision (2)

phobos512 (766371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857754)

I know this is /. so you obviously didn't RTFA, but the articles pointed out that these were older D-series trains that only travel around 100 mph (the articles said they top out just shy of 100 mph).

Re:Collision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857872)

Mostly because there aren't trains which travel at/over 200mph in USA

There are only ongoing plans to renovate rail sections to accomodate those speeds.

Very good point. I was wondering when someone would bring this up.

Re:Collision (5, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857566)

Actually, it happened on Washington, DC's Metro system two years ago. A problem with a train proximity sensing system resulted in a failure to engage automatic braking on one train when it approached another train farther ahead that had broken down. In that case, there was evidence that the operator, shortly before her death, had attempted to stop her train manually, but didn't have enough advance warning to stop in time. Eight other people were killed, and in response, WMATA ordered operators to run their trains in manual mode at all times.

Re:Collision (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36858362)

[citation needed]

alot of them come from have a car on the trackes (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857592)

alot of them come from have a car on the tracks when the gates are down.

Sounds like N Korea soccer team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857422)

Isn't that the excuse the the N Korean soccer team used for why they lost?

Re:Collision (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857438)

Riiiight, it was a "lightning strike" that caused the problems.

Not like the Chinese would ever release false information to save face or anything, nope, they never do that.

Re:Collision (-1, Troll)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857866)

Yeah, I bet the whole thing was actually a mass execution of christians protesting for the right to feed starving puppies, and then they put them in a train and shot it with lightning and jumped it off a bridge as a cover story to save face. Darn commie face-savers.

Re:Collision (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857990)

why waste a train to get it done?

Re:Collision (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858052)

To make it more convincing. They're fiendishly cunning, them there inscrutable orientals.

Compare to Japan's Bullet Train (5, Informative)

vinng86 (1978262) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857310)

During the Shinkansen's 45-year, nearly 7 billion-passenger history, there have been no passenger fatalities due to derailments or collisions,[13] despite frequent earthquakes and typhoons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinkansen#Safety_record [wikipedia.org]

Re:Compare to Japan's Bullet Train (-1)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857330)

Wow, I'm surprised no one's updated the article as of this comment.

Re:Compare to Japan's Bullet Train (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857376)

Link refers to trains in Japan only -- not the Chinese one that derailed.

Re:Compare to Japan's Bullet Train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857380)

Why would they update the article about Japan's bullet train?

Re:Compare to Japan's Bullet Train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36858104)

4 lulz, !y?

Re:Compare to Japan's Bullet Train (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857454)

Contrary to the South Park episode, Japan and China are in fact two different countries

BULLETS KILL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857314)

so should bullet trains

Lightning involved (5, Insightful)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857322)

I don't know if it is necessarily corner cutting, but one would have thought lightning protection would have been one of the obvious things they would have engineered. From the articles, the lightning strike disabled the train and the train behind slammed into it. Also, if a train is stalled on the track, one would think there would be someway of knowing; either through telemetry or the driver radioing "Help! My train's stuck!". So if so, why didn't the other train stop? Lots of questions... I wonder if we will ever truly learn the answers or will this become another of China's "let's sweep it under the carpet" moments?

Re:Lightning involved (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857354)

"Train stopped ahead of your train involved." Braking, more relevant than lighting.

Re:Lightning involved (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857430)

Thus my follow up: Why didn't the second train brake? Not enough lead time? Communication breakdown? Will we ever be allowed to know?

Re:Lightning involved (1)

todrules (882424) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857504)

These aren't the trains you're looking for. Move along.

Re:Lightning involved (1)

DaScribbler (701492) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857650)

I would venture to guess "Communication Breakdown". It's not like the lead train came to an instant stop when it lost power, as stopping a train takes a considerable effort. One would speculate that if a train lost power, it would only apply enough brake to ensure control on the track because it knows there's another train rapidly approaching from behind. And only then come to a complete stop when it's safe to do so.

Re:Lightning involved (2)

Too Much Noise (755847) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857510)

Automated control system and/or safety checks failure, most likely - at that speed manual braking is useless (by the time you have visual on the obstacle it's too late to brake). The automated control system should have detected that one train was no longer moving or no longer in contact and should have slowed down/halted all other trains on the same track approaching the area.

Re:Lightning involved (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857478)

It was proposed (by Siemens Signals gmbh) that a modified TVM430 system be used in China. This is what is used on the more modern TGV lines in France. It was rejected by the Chinese Railways as being too expensive so they came up with their own.
The TVM430 uses a moving block system. This means that this accident could never have happened. This system leaves at least one complete signal section between trains. The sections are also long enough for a SPAD (signal passed at danger) that will cause an application of the brakes to AUTOMATICALLY happen to stop the train from well in excess of the normal line speed before it would slam into the back of the train that was stopped on the line.

If my experience with the Chinese Bullet train lines is anything to go by, the phrase 'held together by duck tape' seems very apt.
The trains themeselves might be good but the PW (Permanent Way) is very sub standard. The last time I travelled on one the ride quality remined me of the line from Euston to Rugby in the 1980's. Think bucking bronco.

This was an accident waiting to happen.

Anon, ex staffer with Westinghouse/Siemens Signal Systems (UK) but still employed in the Railway Business.

   

Re:Lightning involved (1, Redundant)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857506)

More to the point, no matter the reason, a reasonable safety system wouldn't allow 2 trains to come together. That has been part of railroad design for over a century.

Re:Lightning involved (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858532)

That has been part of railroad design for over a century.

That explains why there have been 0 train collisions in the west for almost a hundred years!

the railway signal system should do something (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857636)

the railway signal system should do something but the driver may be under presser to go as fast as they can and not stop.

tragady (1)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857348)

What a tragady. All them empty seat's.

Re:tragady (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36858286)

I agree all those empty seats. If the train was overbooked to the point of passengers standing, the fares collected would defray the cost of building the next defective train with the same accident. Think recursion.

Schadenfreude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857360)

so, this maybe the feelings from the people of Siemens....

Re:Schadenfreude (1)

quantumphaze (1245466) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857492)

The Siemens trains sold in Melbourne had shoddy brakes among other problems, yet I see cars and other shit advertised as "German engineered" on TV.

Re:Schadenfreude (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857756)

At least they had brakes.

Design difference with TGV (5, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857392)

My cynical nature seems to be not surprised about "that builders had ignored safety standards", in China.

One thing that should be mentioned is looking at the photos of the Chinese bullet train, is that the design did not inspire itself on one of the key advantages of the French TGV. That advantage being that the bogies are between the carriages and not under each carriage. Apparently the French designed it that way because it reduces the scope of damage due to derailment. The TGV has derailed, but it always derails in a straight line.

ref: Nova: Looking down the track at very fast trains [science.org.au]

Re:Design difference with TGV (5, Interesting)

MORB (793798) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857570)

And it works incredibly well. The TGV had several high speed derailment that all caused only minor injuries.

It includes the world's fastest derailment at 294kph (182mph) where only one person was slightly injured.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGV_accidents [wikipedia.org]

Re:Design difference with TGV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36858168)

The thing is if the TGV rolled down a bridge while in the process of derailing things might be slightly different.

In any case, it's good to know the TGV's have a tendency to derail all by themselves without being rear ended by another train.

Re:Design difference with TGV (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857576)

Our bosses say, "We need 60 hours of work in the next three days" "we really don't want to burn out our employes so make sure we take care of them".

They are in the clear-- it's just not possible to achieve the goals without working nights and weekends.

I'm sure the chinese do the same thing.

We want TOP quality in LESS time for NOT ENOUGH money.

It's the usual "choose 2 of three option".

11 Dead. Missing from summary (2)

quantumphaze (1245466) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857400)

At least 11 people have died and 89 people injured

You would think this important information would be in the summary to give perspective on the disaster.

Re:11 Dead. Missing from summary (3, Informative)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857528)

At least 11 people have died and 89 people injured

You would think this important information would be in the summary to give perspective on the disaster.

The number of deaths isn't what makes it interesting to Slashdot -- the Oslo shooting + bombing (rightly) didn't get reported here. This derailment leads to a discussion of safety standards of high-tech systems, especially in emerging countries, and how technology could have prevented or caused the crash, hence it's newsworthiness.

Re:11 Dead. Missing from summary (1)

Anonymous Crobar (1143477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857612)

Yes, it was. [slashdot.org] In fact, at least one slashdotter was nearby when the bomb went off. [slashdot.org]

Maybe this will lead to new standards (or maybe, they'll pay better attention to the old ones) but those standards exist to protect people. The GP was right - the summary could have been a little more helpful in describing the extent of the tragedy.

Re:11 Dead. Missing from summary (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857630)

the Oslo shooting + bombing (rightly) didn't get reported here

Uhh... yes it did [slashdot.org]

But besides that your point stands.

Re:11 Dead. Missing from summary (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858506)

That's bunk. Technology is also used to reduce the number of fatalities.

Not a "bullet" train (3, Informative)

mrsam (12205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857402)

From TFA:

"D" trains are the first generation of bullet trains in China, with an average speed of just short of 100mph (160km/h).

Feh. Amtrak, and even some commuter trains in the Northeast, routinely exceed 110-125mph.

Re:Not a "bullet" train (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857512)

But is that "average speed" ?

Re:Not a "bullet" train (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857558)

mod parent up

Re:Not a "bullet" train (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857594)

African or European?

Re:Not a "bullet" train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36858300)

African or European?

Asian, apparently.

Re:Not a "bullet" train (4, Informative)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857596)

From TFA:

"D" trains are the first generation of bullet trains in China, with an average speed of just short of 100mph (160km/h).

Feh. Amtrak, and even some commuter trains in the Northeast, routinely exceed 110-125mph.

Commuter trains in the UK tend to go upto 110mph, but average nearer 50-60. Eurostar from London to Paris peaks at 186mph (186.1 according to the iphone gps), but only averages 136mph.

The Acela Express might peak at 150, but it averages 70mph.

Re:Not a "bullet" train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36858330)

Well, I took the D135 two months ago, travelling from Bejing to Anyang. (the trip back is another line, D132)

while TFA is about train D3115, my experience was very pleasant.

the train was slow to start 70-100km/h, but after leaving Beijing, the train got to 202 km/h (125 mph), and kept that speed for a good part of the 3,5 hour trip.
1st class was pretty cheap (18€), and extremely comfortable, better than most economy airline seats. 2nd class(15€) was equal to an avarage airline seat.
  I didn't do the math, but Anyang, Henan province and Beijing are about 500 km apart.

Re:Not a "bullet" train (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858336)

D is just the prefix of any long distance, high speed service in China, not a type of train. CRH1, the first generation of bullet trains in China can travel at up to 250kmh and frequently do.

"All this part of your test plan is not necessary" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857488)

I can easily imagine that 10 second conversation taking place in some Chinese ministry a couple years ago. That is a very hierarchical, abrupt society.

Collision and *then* derailment. (2)

Arakageeta (671142) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857500)

The reports currently are that the train cars detailed because of a collision, not because they were simply going too fast and took a sharp turn on faulty rails. Can you really expect cars to remain on the tracks after a collision?

Re:Collision and *then* derailment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857580)

You seem to be posting this as if it somehow exonerates the manufacturers. As if the collision itself is not the result of severe failings somewhere within the system.

Re:Collision and *then* derailment. (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857588)

The reports currently are that the train cars detailed because of a collision, not because they were simply going too fast and took a sharp turn on faulty rails. Can you really expect cars to remain on the tracks after a collision?

If you use strong enough magnets...

Not a surprise (0, Offtopic)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857538)

It's about as surprising as Amy Winehouse being found dead in her apartment...

Re:Not a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857694)

who's apartment ?

Re:Not a surprise (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857700)

Topical, well played.

Re:Not a surprise (2)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857714)

Yes, quite odd that two similar stories pop up like that. We've got a horrible trainwreck that will result in a media circus, and a train crashed as well.

Re:Not a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857718)

my guess is that this is no simple coincidence.

Re:Not a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857768)

That makes Winehouse the founding member of the "Chinese Bullet Train Club".

Re:Not a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857782)

One high speed train wreck, one slow speed train wreck.

Re:Not a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857944)

Too soon

Well I guess they're safe now (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857540)

Everyone knows lightning never strikes the same train twice.

We all knew it... (0)

dotbot (2030980) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857546)

There's a culture where safety does not come first on the priority list. One suspects authoritarianism is ultimately to blame: individuals afraid to make decisions themselves perhaps?

Re:We all knew it... (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858184)

Greed is ultimately to blame. Authoritarianism just makes it easier to shrug it all off when things go to shit like this.

In any other country where this happened there would be a few mea culpas and some compensation to pay, a few internal enquiries finding failures that were "unfortunate" and "avoidable", but ultimately nobody goes to prison and everybody (but the victims) moves on with nothing having changed. Beyond these theatrics of conscience there is no difference between the Chinese method and that practiced in the West.

subsequently "retracted" ?! (4, Insightful)

fche (36607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857556)

No, a "retraction" means taking back, by the original commentators. In this case, some other official merely denied the claims of the whistleblower.

Re:subsequently "retracted" ?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857712)

Actually I think in China a "retraction" means the whistleblower no longer has the option of taking it back, or making more claims, or doing much of anything besides feed the worms.

Once again china still shows why big is bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36857586)

A big government doesn't work because it causes the government to always be directly involved with conflict of interest. This means any failure of anyone to do what is both legal and morally right is a failure of the government to do the same. The worst part is the governments #1 job is to decided and enforce the ideas of what is right and wrong as decreed by it's ruling body. This is why people agreed to be governed in the first place because they would have deputes with their fellow man and someone with authority was needed to solve this disputes. But if half the people work directly for the government and the other halve indirectly there are very few times the government is not involved as party in a dispute. You can see how this happened here, one member of the government said the trains weren't as safe as had been previously thought but the rest of the government decided that makes us look bad so we better go back on that.

Re:Once again china still shows why big is bad. (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857626)

OTOH, Hey - China has bullet trains. I bet their safety record is still better than commuting on the 405

Re:Once again china still shows why big is bad. (1)

itsenrique (846636) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858320)

Riiiiight. What about the 'big governments' in Europe and their bullet trains? Pinnacles of human achievement or an example of how it 'doesn't work'?

Wait until the airlines get ahold of this story... (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857682)

Their lobbyists will use it to ensure that we go another several decades without an alternative to air transport for getting across the country faster than you can in your own car.

Signaling system by Hollysys (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36857796)

Hollysys [hollysys.com.sg] claims to be the main supplier of signalling and train protection equipment for China's high speed rail lines. There are two separate systems - classic track circuits, and a data link between units at the head and tail of each train to a train control center. Either is normally able to prevent collisions. However, in a power failure, the data link system would probably not be functioning. The track circuit system should continue to work on battery power, or, if that fails, indicate STOP.

Track circuit failures resulting in a false proceed signal are rare, but have occurred. The WMATA transit crash in Washington, D.C. was due to a track circuit failure. The US Federal Railroad Administration keeps records of all reported false proceed signals. [ironwoodtech.com] There have been two recorded events in 10 years of false proceed indications due to lightning damage. [ironwoodtech.com]

Re:Signaling system by Hollysys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36858274)

You would think these safety systems should be virtually fail-safe.

But then there wouldn't be Fukushima I guess.

The nature of failure (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858480)

You would think these safety systems should be virtually fail-safe.

But then there wouldn't be Fukushima I guess.

You can design systems to be fail-safe all day long, but eventually nature has a lot more fail to offer than you can every reasonably design for.

That was true for Fukushima (which survived way more than it was designed to handle, resulting in only minor radiations leaks) . And it may be true for this situation as well, if we find the lightning led to a false proceed signal.

It does seem like it must be possible to design a more robust train on track detection mechanism though, or some fallback that is immune from local effect - like a GPS transmitter on each track, that if you lose signal for is an automatic stop for all trains behind. But then perhaps that raises the risk of too many false stops...

Bad summary (2)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858058)

I don't like the summary - from the article: A Chinese high-speed train derailed Saturday when it was hit by another express, state media said, throwing two carriages off a viaduct and killing at least 16 people.

Still I don't understand all the details of the situation.

Re:Bad summary (2, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858260)

I don't like the summary - from the article: A Chinese high-speed train derailed Saturday when it was hit by another express, state media said, throwing two carriages off a viaduct and killing at least 16 people.

When I wrote the summary a few hours ago the information regarding a lightning strike and collision was not available.

Good thing this will never happen here! (1)

mat catastrophe (105256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858318)

I am certainly glad that here in the United States of America, blessed by God and common sense, that we will never experience a tragedy of this magnitude. Thanks to our sensible legislators and their neverending compassion for the people whose livelihood depends on the exploration, excavation, processing, shipping, and selling of fossil fuels, we will never have to see one of these "bullet" trains derail in this country! Our citizens will remain safe! Why, the very name of these things, a "bullet" train, brings to mind only the horror and tragedy of random school violence. Not, of course, that this has anything to do with the abundance of firearms in our nation, no, but the analogy is still valid.

These trains must be banned. We need a constitutional amendment to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening here.

Patronizing much? (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858586)

I see a flood of patronizing posts and many of them xenophobic. Look, I'm not crazy about the Chinese regime/economic system (or the US regime/economic system), but train accidents occur all the time and even in the most "superior" societies. Here are some derailments in the last decade involving injuries.

Hatfield, UK, 2000, 4 dead, 70+ injured - exposed sloppiness in privatized infrastructure and poor oversight.
Potters Bar, UK, 2002, 7 dead, 76 injured - poor maintenance.
Waterfall, Australia, 2003, 7 dead, 40 injured - driver heart attacked, train failed to automatically stop, deadman's pedal insufficient and may have been defeated, guard failed to take action, training shortcomings found.
Grayrigg, UK, 2007, 1 dead, 88 injured - points mis-set.
Jiao-Ji, China, 2008, 70+ killed, 400+ injured - excessive speed, collision
Larissa, Greece, 2008, 29 injured - possible human error or points failure.
Orissa, India, 2009, 9 dead, 150 injured - cause unknown.

In news nobody wrote or cared about ... (2)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#36858646)

... in addition to 10 people dieing in a train, another 200-300 died in other traffic accidents in China on the same day. If you ask me, I'd take the Chinese bullet train. (China has 1.3bn people and 7.6 out of 100.000 die each year in traffic accidents.)
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