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Thoughts on the railway crash in Zhejiang

Even as we struggle to comprehend the shooting tragedy in Norway, another disaster has sent shivers down my spine. This is the railway crash in Zhejiang province of China, where at least 43 people are known to have died and another 200 are injured.  


It was apparently due to equipment failure.  This caused one train to stop for 25 mins instead of 1 minute.  Another train from behind ran straight into the stationary train.  Many blame the authorities for rushing headlong to push out more high-speed trains without adequate attention to safety.


Here in Singapore, we will add an extension or new train line every year for the next 6 years.  In time to come, total rail lines will cover 278 km, up from 148 km today. To reduce the waiting time between trains on the existing lines, we have to upgrade the signalling system.  I know Singaporeans are anxious for the new capacity to come on stream so as to reduce crowdedness.  So am I.


There is enormous complexity in adding rails lines in a densely built up city like Singapore.  When I met the LTA recently, one of my key reminders was never to compromise on safety in all of these works.  This is one area where we shouldn't be shy to adopt the kiasu mentality we Singaporeans are known for.


Less haste, more speed.    Let's pray for those in the Zhejiang rail disaster and also safety in our own rail projects.