The new high-speed rail line from Beijing to Shanghai has been given the go-ahead to start operation following a month of trials. Xinhua reports that a team of top engineers has signed off on the line meeting its operational requirements. Commercial service is expected to start no later than July 1.
This follows a two-month long clear-out of activities close to the line that could put its safety at risk, such as mining operations and quarry blasting. These can no longer be conducted within 1,000 meters of the line. Similarly hazardous material can’t be stored or sold within 200 meters of it.
Start of service on the flagship line should be a moment of cheer for the country’s scandal and debt-plagued high-speed rail network. Yet not so fast. This Bystander’s eye was caught by a warning from Wang Dexue, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety (via Caijing), that technical risks remain, including settlement of the tracks, the trains’ brakes and the signalling and communications system along the line. Most concerning, though, were his remarks that the trains could be a target for terrorist attacks, fears heightened by a report from NSS Labs, a security testing firm based in Europe, that there were multiple vulnerabilities in the industrial control system made by Siemens–the one the line uses–that would allow easy access to hackers.