China responds to high-speed rail safety fears
China is lowering the operating speeds on its new bullet train lines because of safety and affordability concerns over the largest high-speed rail network in the world.
operating speed 运行速度
high speed rail 高铁
bullet train line 子弹头列车
The top speed for trains running on the country’s main high-speed lines will be reduced from 350km/h to 300km/h, said Sheng Guangzu, China’s new railway minister.
railway minister 铁道部部长
“This will offer more safety,” Mr Sheng was quoted as saying in People’s Daily, the official Communist party mouthpiece. “At the same time, this will allow more variation in ticket prices based on market principles.”
official Communist party mouthpiece 中共机关报
allow more variation 有更大浮动空间
Lowering the speed limit for China’s showcase high-speed rail network signals a rethink of the country’s ambitious plans. The move follows the removal of Liu Zhijun, the former railway minister, in February. The Communist party is investigating Mr Liu for “serious disciplinary violations”, a claim that usually results in corruption charges. Chinese media have aired allegations against him ranging from taking bribes to improper sexual liaisons.
China’s showcase 中国现代化标志
rang from to 从。。。到
Mr Liu and Zhang Shuguang, the former deputy chief engineer at the railway ministry who was also removed from his post on the same charges, were the main cheerleaders for China’s efforts to build faster trains based on technology acquired from German, French and Japanese companies.
railway ministry 铁道部
In addition to the new speed limit, expected to lower energy use and operating costs, the total railway construction budget for the next five years appears to have been scaled back.
Mr Sheng said the government would spend Rmb2,800bn ($428.8bn) on railway construction from now until 2015, significantly less than previous reported estimates. Although China’s railway network will still be expanded from the current 91,000km to 120,000km by the end of 2015, analysts said it was likely that some planned routes would be cut and replaced with ordinary lines.
“The plans to run the trains at such high speeds posed a big safety risk,” said Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Transportation University. He said lowering the operating speeds would also help pay for the new network by reducing ticket prices and increasing passenger numbers.
Critics of China’s high-speed rail project say the trains produced by Chinese companies are heavily based on foreign designs that were only meant to travel up to 250km/h.