[EDITORIALS]Subway riding without fearCan we ride the subway without fear? Subways in Seoul stopped twice within three days during the morning rush hours; subway riders were evacuated from a station in Busan because of a fire in late evening. The horror from the recent arson at a station in Daegu is still vivid, but accidents occur frequently on subways in other cities. We are extremely concerned over the chance of another disaster.
The situation is more serious than a simple accidental malfunction. A train stopped near Bongcheon Station on Friday because the power supply was cut off. Communi-cation between the train and the control command was unavailable, and the incident could have been serious. The next train was not informed that a train was stalled on the tracks in front of it, and it stopped only 200 meters before a possible collision. For 40 minutes, passengers were stuck in the tunnel; we can imagine their fear. Despite the power blackout, communications equipment should have been functioning, but the emergency battery was uncharged, so there was no way for the malfunctioning train to talk to the command center. Yesterday morning, another train stopped near Gaehwasan Station because a computer glitch put the emergency brake on.
The train car whose power supply was cut off had started out with half of its interior lights turned off. Maintenance work has been poorly done and subway workers lack safety awareness. Because of computer errors, subway doors reportedly have failed to open from time to time and trains have stopped in the wrong spots at platforms. We cannot understand why such computer errors are not fixed.
The subway is used by 6 million citizens of the capital region. People are very sensitive after the Daegu arson, but accidents are still frequent although subway corporations should have paid more attention to their operations. The Seoul Metropolitan Government must see if safety has been neglected to save costs and if car and maintenance work are properly done. The city must reinforce subway workers’ safety awareness. Convincing measures to alleviate public fear are urgent.