China’s Train Safety Concerns


China’s high-speed train accident, which comes only days after complaints of what’s described as constant malfunctioning of the Beijing-Shanghai bullet train, has led to three Chinese rail officials being fired and safety concerns raised.

A bullet train was struck from behind by another train killing at least 38 and injuring aorund 200.

It happened in Eastern Zhejiang province.

The first train had to stop because of lightning causing a power outage. Six cars derailed including 4 that fell from an elevated bridge.

Rail officials had insisted such high-speed trains could not be rear-ended.

Authorities can’t explain why engineers had not anticipated the effect of a lightning strike.

But problems have been taking away the glory of China’s boasts about its high-speed rail technology. It plays into the hands of overseas critics who accuse China of copying the technology from Europe and Japan but questioning how its track network could be laid in such record time.

Then in recent months:

  • The rail ministry chief was sacked after allegedly taking over 100 million in kickbacks tied to shoddy construction work.
  • The ministry reduced maximum speeds along the network to reduce costs and as a safety precaution.
  • The new Beijing-Shanghai line, with newer and faster trains that those which collided has had power failures and delays in recent weeks.
  • Critics note that Japan which got bullet trains in 1964 has not had a crash.
  • Some experts are claiming that China’s software management has not kept up and signalling and systems management could be wanting
  • There was no automatic braking system on the trains involved in the accident.  Bullet trains are equipped with automatic warning systems that alert the engineer to decelerate when another train is spotted 4km ahead. When it is 2km away, the engineer would be warned to brake.

The monitored Chinese internet is full of blog comments expressing concern about train safety.

China is to build a high speed train system in Laos, footing 70% of the bill.





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