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Metrô Cartel | Danger Zone?

Line 4: The Great Sambodian Smoking Hole, 2007

Line 4: The Great Sambodian Smoking Hole, 2007

Source: Caros Amigos | Brasil de Fato

Corruption leads to security concerns for São Paulo subway riders.

By Márcio Zonta

As the corruption scheme among multinational public transportation companies and the governments of the PSDB grew more complex, the risk of fatal accidents became  uncontrollable. The information comes from experts and skilled labor who work daily on the Metrô project.

The reason for this is that the new operations system, the renovation of trains, the acquisition of equipment and the performance of maintenance taks are  being developed by companies who won their contracts by means of a corruption scheme rather than for their capacity to deliver the goods and services.

The eight new trains delivered to the Metrô under the  current state government of Geraldo Alckmin provide an example.


According to experts in the field, these trains lack safety measures specific to the current model of rail car used. During a technical failure or stoppage, the air conditioning is interrupted, and could well suffocate the thousands of riders on the affected line.

Furthermore, the new system, installed in 2010 by Alstom, has made the circulation of trains even more problematic. In  2013, the Metrô has  averaged one outage per week.


The most recent case was the derailment of a car on a train traveling on the Line 3-Red on August 5, between Marechal Deodoro and Barra Funda stations. Passengers had to be evacuated using the emergency footbridge and the trains began running in only one direction between  Barra Funda and Santa Cecília, affecting operations on Line 1-Azul, Line 2-Green and Line 3-Red. The problem started in a car remodeled byTTrans, a company  involved in the corruption scandal involving the subway and commuter rail systems.

Metro Workers

Secretary-general of the Metro Workers Union of São Paulo, says the contracting of services from Alstom by the State is a classic example of  the companies who have taken part in the bribery scheme with the PSDB.“Alstom completely lacked the ability to plan and implement a system that will resolve the current problems of the Metrô, but because it is involved in dirty tricks, it never loses an auction,” he says.

In this way the safety of system users and of subway workers are both relegated to the background.

“It is difficult to work with a subway system that fails often thanks to massive overcrowding, which generates other problems, requiring more working hours and stress for the Metrô worker and so decreases rider safety. The money diverted into this corruption scheme could have easily been used to to resolve this set of problems,” saysPasim.

Blackout Day

“The sensation is one of suffocating, and the suffering only increasing when you realize you really are totally confined. I think I might die in the middle of so many people, unable to breathe, unable to move,” says Izaura Neves, who takes the Metrô de São Paulo to work every day. The young woman suffered this situation during a blackout of the Red Line in March of this year, when she spent several minutes immobilized by a mass of persons in a subway car that was stopping between stations due to the technical failure. “A lot of people panicked and began smashing windows and doors. Thos who made it out walked along the tracks to the platform … ”

Izaura was riding in a brand new train with nine cars.  It is outfitted with the air conditioning which, according to the engineering plan and the Metrô authority plans, both of them implemented by Alstom. But when the line lost power for some reason, the AC automatically shuts down, leaving riders withou internal circulation of air.

“Imagine a train with 2,000 riders, overcrowded, ten persons per square meter without AC. Obviously these people are not going to want to be stuck and will try to escape along the tracks, risking being run over and killed by trains running in the opposite direction,”says Pasim.


O The Metro Workers Union of  São Paulo, concerned by this situation, several years ago presented the state prosecutor with a document listing the principal risks to the lives of subway riders with the installation of new trains. com a instalação dos novos trens. To date, we have received no reply.

Even so, the recurring operational failures of the Metrô have doubled in recent years. In  2010, the system recorded 1.51 notable incidents per million passenger-km traveled. In  2012, this statistic reached  3.31.

According to data from the Citizen Information Center  Serviço de Informação ao Cidadão (SIC), the problems vary from the failure of doors to open to the collision of trains due to brake outages, as well as poor performance by the traction system.


Municipal Services Secretary Simão Pedro, relates the corruption in the Metrô system to the system’s various technical problems that affect its day-to-day operations.

“The Metrô suffers these effects due to the diversion of large sums of money, ranging from bribery to services not delivered. Those clauses are there simply to fool you. This is the private sector controlling the puplic sector and turning it into a highly lucrative business.