The daily ‘StairMaster’ commute

Shanghai’s subway operator has dispatched extra subway staff to a handful of stations to help facilitate rush hour traffic flows along the steps as select subway escalators are shut for maintenance checks, after an escalator malfunction in Beijing last week killed one person and injured 30 others, local authorities said Monday.

Some 22 subway escalators in the city produced by escalator company Otis, sharing the same model type as the one that suddenly reversely jerked in the capital – the Otis 513 MPE – have been ordered by national supervision and inspection authorities to be out of operation as inspectors conduct tests to ensure the equipment is safe to run. The affected escalators account for roughly 3 percent of those produced by Otis, which are used for the city’s subway network of some 280 stations.

Xinzhuang station and Shanghai South Railway station along the Line 1 subway are among the largest stations affected by the move, which now has daily commuters sweating it out on the stairs, and also includes four stations along the Line 7 subway: Panguang Road station, Huamu Road station, Gucun Park station and Liuhang station.

“We have the most staff at Xinzhuang station because passenger crowds reach large volumes there on a daily basis, particularly during the evening rush hour,” Yin Wei, a press officer from the city’s subway operator Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, told the Global Times Monday. “We need to ensure that the flow of traffic goes smoothly without the use of escalators – for the safety of commuters.”

Yin added that to avoid overcrowding at Xinzhuang station, which last month saw more than 60,000 round trip commuters daily, authorities are reducing train-intervals along the route. 

Yin said that inspectors have not yet mentioned how long the escalator checks, which began late last week in the city, will take to complete, but did not expect them to last long.

“We also hope that the situation will be determined okay soon because not having the use of elevators at busy stations, especially during rush hour, puts more stress on the subway network,” he added.

Incidentally, a XIZI Otis model escalator at Caoyang Road station of the Line 3 subway, halted unexpectedly at 8:50 am Monday. No injuries were reported. An investigation into the incident continues.

Li Mingjie, manager of public relations for Otis Elevator China earlier told local media that it has no plans to recall equipment in the city until the inspections have concluded, adding that the company has also arranged from Austrian experts to further investigate the cause of the Beijing accident.

Local resident Zhu Ming, who lives near Xinzhuang station, said that he needs to leave home a little earlier these days to make time for the slightly longer commute.

“With everyone taking the stairs, it adds up,” he told the Global Times Monday. “I don’t mind for now so long as it ensures our safety – but I hope the problem is solved soon, so we can go back to normal.”

Source: Global Times

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