China lowers speed limit of bullet trains

August 11th, 2011 - 3:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 11 (IANS) China has decided to lower the speed limit of its bullet trains following last month’s major rail crash that killed 40 people, a media report said Thursday.

Trains with a top speed of 350 km per hour will now run at 300 kmph, and trains with a maximum speed of 250 kmph will operate at 200 kmph, the railway ministry said.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the State Council presided by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao Wednesday.

The meeting also decided to re-evaluate the safety systems of rail projects that have been approved but yet to start construction, China Daily reported.

The State Administration of Work Safety will lead the inspection of equipment quality, operation safety, and design and quality of trains under construction, it said.

On July 23, a high-speed train rammed into the rear of a stationary train in Wenzhou city in eastern Zhejiang province, killing 40 people. The crash, one of the worst train accidents since 2008, left about 200 people injured.

The railway ministry said ticket prices on the bullet trains will also be slashed after their speeds are reduced.

Experts said Wednesday’s decision is a signal that China is slowing down its high-speed rail programme, which put the country in the same league as Japan and Europe in the sector.

The 21st Century Business Herald, citing an unnamed official, said the speed of all high-speed trains will be scaled down, except the ones that run on the Beijing-Shanghai, Beijing-Tianjin and Shanghai-Hangzhou routes.

Experts called the decision a remedial action. “It’s a rational adjustment,” said Zhao Jian, a rail expert at the Beijing Jiaotong University.

“The decision will have an impact on the market, for instance on suppliers of train parts. But it will benefit them in the long run,” he added.

Yang Hao, a professor of traffic and transportation at the same university, sees a definite impact on China’s exports of advanced rail technologies.

“China needs some time to consolidate its safety management system on bullet trains,” he said. “The export of technologies will slow down.”

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