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  Higher payments for railway accidents  



People killed or injured in rail accidents will get compensation of up to 150,000 yuan ($19,800) starting from September 1, according to a new regulation approved on Thursday by the State Council.

The compensation is much higher than the current upper limit of 40,000 yuan ($5,300), which was based on two rules enacted in 1979 and 1994.

Damages paid for lost luggage have also been raised from 800 yuan to 2,000 yuan, according to the regulation published on www.gov.cn, the central government's official website.

The State Council's Legal Affairs Office said in an explanation of the regulation that the adjustment is made because "former rules are no longer in line with the economic and social development".

Before that, the Ministry of Railways was criticized for only paying out several hundred yuan for each life lost in rail accidents.

According to the new regulation, people killed in railway accidents such as derailment, train crashes, fires and explosions, can get compensation, but not those who are killed when walking over or on tracks regardless of warnings.

This means that families like that of Yin Hua might get nothing. The 10-year-old girl was killed in January at a level crossing in East China's Shandong Province which had no fence or guards, except for a rusted warning sign. Her family was given a meager 600 yuan for compensation. Each day, more than 40 such accidents happen across China.

Besides the increased compensation, the regulation also deals with the investigation of railway accidents and emergency aid.

The maximum train speed has now been raised to 250 kph, and this requires "quicker response and more efficient rescue efforts in case of emergencies," said the official explanation.

The new rule has a clear definition of the responsibilities of rescuers after accidents occur, which is "the first time this has been written into a regulation," according to the railway ministry. It asks railway departments to report accidents involving more than 10 deaths, or two derailed trains, or delays of more than 24 hours on major rail lines, to the State Council.

The investigation of serious railway accidents should be concluded in 60 days, with the results of the probe and details of the settlement involved being made public.





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