Russia's high-speed Sapsan train kills two women in week
Russia's first high-speed train, the Sapsan, has mown down its second victim in two days on its route between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
"The Sapsan ran over a woman who was crossing the tracks in a forbidden place in the region of Tosno" on Tuesday, the spokeswoman for Russian Railways told AFP, adding that a second woman was killed Monday at another station.
"These are tragic incidents but in all the cases the victims broke traffic and safety rules by crossing the tracks in forbidden places," said spokeswoman Yulia Mineyeva.
She stressed that the Sapsan was no more dangerous than any other train as long as safety rules were observed.
"In the last nine months, 315 people have died on the tracks between Moscow and Saint Petersburg and only a few people were because of Sapsan," Mineyeva said.
Sapsan's operators have not given a specific figure for the number of people killed by the train, only saying that there were "isolated incidents."
Four people had been knocked down by the Sapsan since its inception in December last year, a senior interior ministry official said in April in comments reported by Fontanka.ru, a Saint Petersburg news web site.
Russia's railways cause an enormous death toll, because tracks are not fenced off and are used by many rural residents as footpaths. In 2009, 2,593 died on tracks while 1,494 were injured.
Sapsan, an ultra-modern train linking Russia's two main cities in three hours and 45 minutes, as opposed to eight hour night trains, was launched in December 2009 and travels at up to 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph).
Since its launch, the Sapsan has been regularly attacked by stone-throwing rural residents, who complain that the expensive high-speed service, aimed at wealthy businessmen, is dangerous and cuts the numbers of slow stopping regional trains.
"The Sapsan is more dangerous than other trains, because it travels at high speed almost without sound," said Tamara Novikova, a resident of the village of Uglovka, 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Saint Petersburg.
© 2010 AFP