Former railways minister Liu Zhijun sacrificed safety in pursuit of China having the world’s fastest high-speed trains, according to the ministry’s former deputy chief engineer, Zhou Yimin. In an interview with the 21st Business Herald (via Caijin), Zhou claimed that Liu overrode contract specifications by the German joint venture manufacturer, Siemens, that the trains’ top speed should be 300 kph because he wanted them to run at 350-380 kph.
Liu, the driving force behind the rapid buildout of the country’s high-speed rail network, was sacked in February following a bribery and corruption investigation. Test runs on the flagship line between Beijing and Shanghai concluded last month, but safety concerns persist, including around the settlement of the tracks, the trains’ brakes and the signalling and communications system along the line. Zhou says that there are often glitches with the trains on the high-speed network, but these are kept quiet. Several times trains on the Beijing-Shenyang have broken down, he says. Speed limits have been imposed on the whole network, in part as a cost saving measure.