Railway Collapses in China

railway line collapse

In yet another blow to the massive rail infrastructure program in China, a section of a new high-speed railway has collapsed in Central China’s Hubei Province.

Last Friday, the roadbed of a 300-meter section of rail collapsed on the 291-kilometre Hanyi High-speed Railway, reports the country’s official Xinhua News Agency. The railway, when opened, will link the provincial capitals of Wuhan and Yichang city.

The report says the collapsed part has undergone test runs and that workers working on the section believe that heavy rain caused the problem.

Constructed by the China Railway 12th Bureau Group Co, the news agency says the line with be a major high speed rail facility in central China. The line is set to open in May.

The latest incident comes as a senior railway official has been forced to defend the country’s performance in building rail and deny that the country’s program of high speed rail was to be suspended ‘en masse.’

Last Friday, Wu Qiang, director of the transportation unit of the Ministry of Railways, said funding for key rail projects is guaranteed and that their development will be continued.

“Investment in railways will total 500 billion Yuan (79.37 billion U.S. dollars) this year, and the money used for railways under construction is assured,” said Wu, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, during a parliamentary session.

He says that although the country needed to continually adjust and improve its practices, high speed rail is efficient and environmentally friendly. He added that passenger numbers almost doubled in 2011 compared with 2010 while occupancy rates are on the rise.

China’s high-speed rail construction program suffered a major setback last year when two bullet trains collided in east China’s Zhejiang province, leaving 40 passengers dead and 172 others injured.

Sporadic breakdowns since the incident have done little to improve perceptions about the safety of the network.

By Andrew Heaton
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