Bullet trains get delayed again by power failures

08:51, July 13, 2011      

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China's bullet trains linking Shanghai and Beijing were stopped by power failures for the second time in three days yesterday, less than two weeks after they launched.

A power failure delayed 30 trains on the newly built high-speed railway, shortly after a similar incident halted 11 of the railway's trains two days ago.

The railway's power was cut off about 11am near Suzhou in east China's Anhui Province and resumed two hours later after repairs.

The Ministry of Railways apologized on its website to passengers affected by the delays. The power problems have left thousands of passengers suffering in stuffy carriages. On Sunday, thousands of passengers were stranded after the rail grid network broke down due to heavy rainfall in Shandong Province.

"I could not believe the blackout happened again," said a passenger, surnamed Xia, who yesterday morning rode Train D182, among the first to be affected by the grid problem.

D182 departed from Shanghai at 7:30am and was scheduled to arrive at Zhengzhou in central China's Henan Province by 2:01pm.

Xia said the train stopped for about half an hour before arriving at the Suzhou Station but then halted again once it left the station.

Passengers complained that it was hot in the carriage with the power cut.

Other passengers said online that they "spotted spark of a burned wire beside the track."

The problem was fixed by 1pm and the services gradually resumed, rail officials said. But the backup caused one train to be canceled and 29 others to be delayed along the 1,318-kilometer-long track by late yesterday.

Passengers who arrived at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station were delayed up to three hours.

Railway operators had to stop selling the tickets to Beijing at Hongqiao station and refund or change the affected departure trains.

While the railway operator apologized but did not give a full explanation, passengers begin to question the 220 billion yuan railway project that just opened on June 30.

"I won't choose the bullet train in the future," said a passenger surnamed Li, who planned a business trip from Shanghai to Beijing but was hit by the delays.

Some passengers rushed to the Hongqiao airport to take flights instead.

Rail experts said the frequent breakdowns were a surprise even though the line is still in its break-in period.

Wang Mengshu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the break-in period could take a month.

"The power supply system would see most of the breakdowns as it's a weak part of the whole project," said Wang, adding that the system should become stable.

Wang said that fewer trains down the line will be affected by electrical breakdowns once the track is doubled.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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