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Serious Design Flaws in Chinese High-speed Trains

Serious Design Flaws in Chinese High-speed Trains

The high-speed train crash in China that killed 40 people was caused by serious design flaws, the country’s safety chief has said. Luo Lin, who is heading the inquiry into the crash, said the accident near Wenzhou was “completely avoidable”. He did not say whether the flaws were in the trains, or the wider rail system – signal failure has previously been blamed.

China has recalled 54 bullet trains over safety concerns. State-owned manufacturing company CNR Corporation said its decision was based on safety concerns and the company was trying to act responsibly.

Earlier this week, the company also suspended deliveries of the CRH 380BL trains for the same reason. Around the same time, the Chinese government also gave orders to cut the speed of fast trains across the country.

The trains recalled on government orders are the fastest form of land transport in China, capable of moving at 350 km/h (217 mph) along the Beijing-Shanghai rail line. China Railway has blamed the series of malfunctions on the careless purchase of components, usually on account of outsourcing. Re-evaluation of the approved rail projects’ safety has already been ordered by the Chinese Government.

There has been widespread public anger in China against the negligence of authorities. Analysts expect safety concerns in fast train transport will oblige the Chinese Government to introduce radical reforms in the Ministry of Railways, which may be merged into an overall transport ministry. Such a proposal was made a few years ago but was thwarted by the Ministry of Railways.

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, editor and proofreader for 53 years, and ITTN's News & Features Editor for 43 years. His travel blog is at www.thetravelbuddhist.com.

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