Entries in High-Speed Rail (5)


China Issues Temporary Moratorium on High-Speed Rail Projects

Comstock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- In the wake of last month’s rail crash that killed 40 people, authorities in China have issued a temporary suspension on new high-speed rail projects and have ordered trains that are currently operating to run at slower speeds.

The State Council has said that checks will need to be carried out on existing lines, while new proposed projects will have to be re-evaluated before any new projects can be started.

The halt comes as the government has been facing a great deal of criticism for its handling of the crash.

It is unclear how long the suspension will last.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Glitches in China's New Bullet Trains Draw Questions about Safety

Comstock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- China's sleek new bullet trains, which began running earlier this month, are drawing delighted crowds of travelers, but snafus that have brought the speedy trains to a halt at times have some questioning whether their builders took shortcuts that sacrificed safety.

China's newest high-speed rail line went into service with great fanfare on July 1.  Initially planned to be completed in five years, the project was completed in just over half that time.

The government has been accused of rushing the completion of the train line to coincide with the Communist Party's 90th birthday, leading to concerns by some that accelerated construction deadlines were carried out at the expense of safety.

One major draw of rail travel in China is convenience.  It is cheaper than flying, and you don't have to book a ticket weeks in advance of your weekend getaway.  Gone are the headaches of endless airport security lines.  While you do have to show your passport and go through a metal detector to ride the new bullet train, your shoes stay on and you can keep your water bottle.

The 800-mile trip from Beijing to Shanghai is supposed to take a manageable five-and-a-half hours.  But during the past week, several "equipment malfunctions" stopped trains and delayed passengers.

At Beijing's crowded South Station, news of electrical problems hadn't dampened excitement surrounding the new train line.

"I don't worry about safety or delay," said one passenger waiting for the train.  "It's unlikely there will be more problems.  And look at how many people have chosen to take the train."

Another passenger was less confident.  "I don't worry about safety, but I do worry about being delayed," she said.

China's state broadcaster reported that days after the opening of the world's longest sea bridge off China's east coast, workers were still tightening bolts on the bridge that could easily have been loosened by hand, as 18,000 cars crossed the bridge daily. Nanjing South Station, the most expensive station built along the Beijing-Shanghai rail line, has had problems since its completion.  Repairs to a leaky roof and floor tiles that have already had to be torn up and replaced were defended by the technical director of the project as "fine tuning," Shanghai Oriental Satellite TV reported.

The government insists that the new rail lines are safe and that malfunctions are normal when a high speed rail line starts operating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


China Launches High Speed Rail Linking Beijing and Shanghai

AFP, Getty Images, Agence France-Presse(BEIJING) -- It's now possible to travel from Beijing to Shanghai (1,318 km) in less than five hours. That's with high speed trains which made their debut Thursday.

The $33 billion track, which moves an average speed of 300  km/h, is expected to transport 80 million passengers a year.

China officials say they hope the train will help allievate overcrowding on the country's transport system.

The country plans to continue building its high speed rail system.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


French Company to Build High Speed Rail in Iraq

XAVIER LEOTY/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- On Friday, French engineering company Alstom took preliminary steps to construct a high speed railway in Iraq, BBC News reports.  The line will connect the Iraqi cities of Basra, Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf.

Alstom told BBC News that it has signed a "memorandum of understanding" with officials in Iraq.

Alstom has declined to release any financial details of the proposed project.  Talks to reach a final agreement will continue for the next 12 months, an Alstom spokesman says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Auditors in China Uncover 'Embezzled' Millions for High-Speed Rail

STR/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJIING) -- State auditors in China found $28.5 million intended to fund the development of a high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai to be stolen by construction companies and other individuals, reports the BBC.

The project, which began in 2008, is due to be completed in June 2011 -- one year ahead of the projected finish date.

Officials said Wednesday that irregularities had been detected over a three-month period of the rail's construction in 2010, according to the Financial Times

This kind of corruption is not uncommon to China's railway industry.  Just last month, the country's railway minister was dismissed in connection with corruption claims.

The state audit office has handed the case over to the Chinese judicial system for a formal investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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