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Rail-Accident Compensation Scheme Introduced
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Starting from September 1st, China will for the first time introduce its railway accident compensation program which requires railway departments pay a record quota of 150,000 yuan, or nearly US$19,000 to a passenger who may sustain death or injuries in future possible railway accidents. The passenger will also get an extra 2,000 yuan, or about US$250 of compensation for his or her on-board luggage damage.

According to China News Service reports, the compensation program is designed in a new government regulation on railway accidents emergency rescue and investigation, which will take effect in September. The regulation was adopted by the State Council on June 27.

If a passenger may require a compensation that exceeds the official set amount, a formal written contract between the railway authorities and a passenger is needed before hand, according to the regulation.

However, the regulation also stipulates that the railway transport departments shall not be liable for any personal injury or death caused not by their railway services. Such cases include the passenger's own personal health reasons, or other possible injuries or deaths resulting from illegally crossing, sitting or lying on rail lines.

Moreover, the regulation also supposes parties involved first resort to negotiations if any possible disputes may arise. Mediation between parties is also encouraged before a dispute is brought to court.

(CRI July 20, 2007)

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