Is railway the safe way?

Cheming Yang

At least 38 people were killed and more than 200 injured by the recent crash of two high-speed trains near Zhenzhou in Zhejiang of mainland China. The cause of this terrible accident is still under investigation. Rumor has it that the first train stalled after being hit by lightening and was rear ended by the second train. There are a lot of questions needed to be answered. Why would a train stall after being hit by lightening? And why the second train could not stop in time?

In April, a train of the Alishan Forest Railway in central Taiwan overturned after being hit by a falling tree branch, which killed five people and injured 113 others, mostly mainland Chinese tourists. In July, the Control Yuan of Taiwan censured the Forest Bureau in that it failed to eliminate every possible risk that could endanger passengers on the Alishan railway, one of the most popular tourist attractions inTaiwan.

Railroad has always been deemed as a safer transportation method in comparison with cars and motorcycles, although the other two means are more convenient. Railroad is a relatively conventional way of transportation because it appeared before cars and airplanes. This transportation mechanism continues to exist because that the volume a train can carry is hard to beat. Trains are still very popular in a lot of advanced countries, like Japan, European Union. US is one of the exceptions in that trains are used mostly for cargo other than passengers. China has recently caught up with the development of high speed railway (HSR) and boasts of the capability of building the fastest train on Earth. And Chinese are also interested in exporting this technology to the world. However, this incident deals a serious blow to this ambition.

Safety is always the foremost concern in transportation. With the number of passengers that a train can carry, any mishap can result in heavy casualties. And more so as the speed of trains increases. Trains are very useful as in HSR and very enjoyable as in the Alishan Forest Railway. Its safety will have enormous impact on economy and tourism. As we fast forward our life by HSR, I hope we slow down because we are giving more thought to safety not because we are stopped by the occurrence of fatal accidents.

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