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Legislation Urged to Halt Subway Suicide
Recently, there have been a number of jumping incidents at Beijing Subway Stations, halting trains and inconveniencing many travelers.

On August 16, Li Yaozong, vice-general manager of Beijing Subway Company told Beijing Youth Daily that since jumping purposely on the rails at subway stations is both against social values and interferes with public order, there should be some specific regulations to punish the jumpers. He called for the early passage of legislation by Beijing Municipal People’s Congress, following the example of Shanghai and Guangzhou, to place legal responsibility on any jumpers and safeguard the rights of subway passengers.

Eighty percent among all the jumping incidents this year have been for the purpose of committing suicide, according to Zhan Minghui, general-dispatcher of the Beijing Subway Company. Although most people survived after medical treatment, their behavior each time forced closure of the subway line. For instance, a woman passenger was injured after she jumped onto the rail this June, causing a 32-minute hold-up that delayed 19 trains and led to nine services being cancelled. The schedule did not return to normal throughout the morning and over 600,000 passengers were delayed.

Zhan also pointed out that it is very hard for subway workers to prevent such kind of accidents because currently the passenger flow at Beijing subway stations reaches over 1,300,000 person-times per day and those seeking to commit suicide do not normally show any sign of their intentions in advance. “After these accidents happened, a large number of passengers were delayed, and they gathered on the platform asking for tickets-refund and compensation. Our subway workers had to explain very patiently to them the situation. Besides, the sudden braking of the train often leads to passengers being injured and luggage being damaged, and the costs fall on our company,” added Zhan.

There are glass walls to prevent passengers from falling into the track abroad, said Li Yaozong. However Beijing subway stations do not have such facilities because the lines were built quite early. Besides it is not realistic to build such a system right now, as it involves other work, such as rebuilding platforms, altering the signals system and adapting trains; what’s more, all the subway stations would have to be closed for the work to be done. “Maybe we will consider adopting such devices when we build new lines next time,” he added.

In Li’s opinion, the biggest problem now is lack of legislation. Both Shanghai and Guangzhou have special regulations for subways, while in Taipei and Singapore those who jump on trails and interfere with public order are punished severely if they survive. “For example, a man in Singapore jumped onto the rail, causing the sudden braking of a train that led to three passengers being injured. Therefore, he was sentenced to half a year in prison, plus a large fine,” said Li.

Zhu Gongwei, a lawyer of Zhongzhao Law Firm, thought that society should not have to pay the price for an individual’s emotional behavior. Therefore, suicides should bear the relevant responsibility whether in terms of morality or in terms of law. However, Beijing does not have any regulations in this area. Only the Security Administration Punishment Act mentions that those who interfere with public traffic modes, such as public bus, trolleybus and trains face 15 days in jail and a fine. So, he agreed that it was very necessary to create a specific subway law in Beijing as soon as possible.

( china.org.cn by Zheng Guihong, August 22, 2002)

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