Two trains were involved in Saturday’s high-speed train crash in Wenzhou. We all now know what happened to Pan Yiheng (潘一恒), the driver of the D301 train which rear-ended the D3115 in front. He was stabbed to death in his chest by a brake handle as he activated the emergency brakes in the final moments of his life.
The question now on everybody’s minds is: Where the hell is the driver of the D3115 train? He’s alive, but he hasn’t been heard from since Saturday evening.
That answer may now come from a mystery person who appeared on Sina Weibo at around 1am this morning, attracting close to 5,000 followers in just a few hours under the account @D3115司机918 (or @D3115 Driver 918).
This person says he/she is not the driver of D3115 but has been in touch with him. The real driver is now not allowed to speak to any media but our mystery man has been able to post a quick conversation with him.
Once again, there’s no way to verify if this guy’s the real deal, but here’s a translation of the dialogue for what it’s worth…
Driver: At 20:13, I received orders and departed on time. At 20:19, I came upon red lights, so I switched to visual mode and travelled at 20km/h, or 19.8km/h to be exact. At 20:22 while travelling towards Wenzhou South, I told them that my signal wasn’t very stable. The response came, the D301 had already departed, and the D3115 was to continue to keep going in visual mode. I remember all these timings very clearly because we’re very sensitive to this.
Question: It’s a working habit?
Driver: That’s right. Upon receiving the orders from the controllers at Wenzhou South, I switched to manual visual mode. At this point, I had not discovered that my rear end had derailed.
Question: What orders?
Driver: The announcement re: D301. D301 departs 20:24.
Question: Why the need to switch to manual visual mode?
Driver: Usually when the train behind needs to take over the train front, there’s a need to change tracks. But it all depends on the specific circumstance. The controllers are clearest what to do.
Question: What happened when you discovered you had derailed?
Driver: Extremely nervous. I was weak in the knees. But I had to report this back to the controllers. At this time I was sure something was going to happen.
Question: How are they treating you now?
Driver: I’m not allowed to have any contact with the outside world. My family doesn’t really know my work schedule, so they probably have no idea what happened. My team mates know my work schedule, and then there’s you.
Question: Have they been talking to you? If so, what about?
Driver: Not much. I have no idea when I’ll be allowed to go home.
Question: Are you scared?
Driver: This is such a huge accident, of course I’m scared, but now I’m a lot calmer. Although I’m still worried about my family.
Question: Is there anything you’d like to say to me?
Driver: I don’t know how serious this is going to be, and I don’t know what will happen to me. But I do feel it’s all such a waste. This sort of thing could totally have been prevented. You can be lucky once or twice but it will never be 100% perfect. And yes, don’t believe what they say. Don’t ever believe it!