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谁来承担高铁事故频发的责任

(2011-07-13 17:46:35)
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杂谈

The Legal Responsibilities for the Failure of High Speed Railway

I should make me calm down in trying to take the high speed train between Beijing and Shanghai after the serial failures of operation of the railway.

It seems that more than two failures took place one after another during very short term. I decide not to join in the fun until the high speed railway proves itself that it is safe and runs in a timely not only “speedy” manner.

I don’t not think all people feel sad about it, such as the airliners between Beijing and Shanghai, instead they are as happy as they can to find that the high railway has lot of troubles and that it is too early to say it is a robust competitor of the airlines.

As a lawyer, I concern more about the responsibilities the owner of high speed railway has to face and finally assume.

1.         Civil responsibilities

How to compensate the traveler in the failed trains? Currently, there seem no specific rules for the scenario just like other circumstances in China: hardware things run much faster than the software things, including the competent services, administration, trouble shooting scheme and legal liabilities.

However, we have Civil Law Principle, Contract Law that can be applied.

Firstly, we should identify the responsibilities bearer. The Ministry of Railways, the owner of all Chinese railways.

Secondly, how to compensate the travelers in the failed train. Several aspects shall be considered:

---direct compensation for the time delayed. The delayed time should be closely linked to the compensation amount in a pro-rata way;

---the mental compensation, considering the sultry air the travelers suffered, the hungers they endured and the anxiety they experienced;

---the missed meeting relating the business opportunities, the affected successive business or visiting arrangement, generally, the contingent damages.

2.         Criminal responsibilities

 

Minor failures, such as time delay, I believe will not bring about criminal investigation, but what about the materials failure, if any in the future? A throughout criminal investigation will be unavoidable. Then, of course, piles of people will be picked up due to the expected but should-not-be reasons, including corruption. The persons involved will be definitely indicted and experience the trial procedure. Their fates are doomed.

3.         I don’t believe that monopoly will create high quality goods and services and efficiency. You can compare the goods and services from the sufficient competitive market, like the household electrical appliances with those from the monopoly fields, like the banks and the telecommunication, and then you can find the gaps. The competition is the only way to improve the quality either in goods or in services.

Railways market is exclusively controlled by the Ministry of Railways, a high level administration department. Doubtless, this market is full of low efficiency, poor services and abundant time delays and failures, and necessarily, there are no ways to get deserved compensations from the administration.

Currently, we can not request the relevant anti-monopoly department to change the monopoly situation by applying the Anti-Monopoly Law as such law protects the monopoly in the fields concerning state economic fortune and state security, including the railways. But we, everyone in China, are entitled to appeal the government to open the railways market, allowing diversified investor to play the game regardless they are state-owned or otherwise. This approach will not only improve the railways services but also create opportunities for the small and medium-sized enterprise to join in the construction and operation of Chinese railways and will certainly enlarge the employment population.

 

京沪高铁出了一次晚点事故令人记忆犹新,所以对这方面的新闻一直当作是事后的连续评论。但仔细看了网上的新闻才明白,原来是接二连三的出了故障。于是我决定去上海时不趟这浑水了,直到京沪高铁证明自己是安全可靠的,不但要“高速”,还要准点为止。

不少人不会对京沪高铁的故障、晚点感到揪心,其中包括京沪间的航空公司,它们还会很高兴。它们终于发现原来高铁也是问题频发嘛,要对民航构成威胁可能还为时过早。

作为律师,本人关心的是高铁故障的法律责任承担问题。

1.         民事责任

如何对故障车上的旅客进行赔偿?目前还没有专门针对性的规章出台。这也可以理解,目前在中国这是普遍现象,硬件远跑在软件前面,这些软件方面的事包括:服务、管理、危机解决方案、法律责任承担等。

好在我们还可以适用《民法通则》和《合同法》。

首先,我们需要确定责任承担人。当然是铁道部,中国铁路都由其控制。

第二,涉及到对故障车进行赔偿时,要考虑以下因素:

---晚点时间与赔偿额。火车票款的退还要与晚点时间成正比,晚点越久,退得越多;

---精神赔偿。要考虑到旅客们在闷热的车厢中吸入的污浊潮湿的空气,遭受到的饥饿,忍受的焦虑折磨。

---还应考虑到间接的损失:一个重要的商业会议错过了,就错过了一次商业机会,后续的商业、旅行安排被打乱了或错过了等等,这样的损失也要考虑进去。

2.         刑事责任

京沪高铁这么大的项目会没有腐败因素吗?我反正不信。小事故小故障也就罢了,但如果将来会有大事故呢?拨出萝卜带出泥,一旦出事,司法部门一定会介入。到时不知会牵出多少人来,他们将面对法律的审判。而他们的命运早就注定了。

3.         我不相信垄断能够带来高质量的产品、服务和高效率。对比一下就清楚了,充分竞争市场中的产品、服务,如家电行业与垄断行业,如银行业、电信业提供的产品、服务,差距是非常明显的。而竞争是消除这些差距的唯一办法。

而高铁就是由铁道部单独控制并运营的。所以,大家对晚点、服务态度差、效率低等等缺点也就不足为奇了,当然,再谈什么赔偿问题,那就是痴人说梦了。

由于《垄断法》保护关系国家命脉和国家安全的行业的垄断,如铁路运输行业,所以我们还不能指望反垄断管理部门能改变现状。但是,我们每一个人都不要忘记鼓与呼,要求政府改变铁老大的一股独大的局面,允许非公经营参与到铁路的建设与运营中来。这样,不但能够改变铁路行业的垄断,改善服务质量,还能够让中小企业进入到这个行业,解决更多的人的就业问题。

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