Enhance high-speed rail safety to restore confidence

10:50, July 28, 2011      

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The high-speed train collision on the Ningbo-Wenzhou line on July 23 has captured the attention of the Chinese people over the past two days. As of 6:00 p.m. on July 25, the accident left 39 dead and 192 injured.

Wang Yongping, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Railways, said on July 24 that China's high-speed rail lines have been operating for a relatively short time and are faced with many new situations and problems.

"Many challenges are still threatening the safety of high-speed railway lines," Wang said. "The entire railway service sector must set safety as the top priority of their work and comprehensively enhance safety management. First, problems concerning high-speed rail safety must be rapidly tackled. Second, the safety control level of high-speed rail operations must be enhanced."

He also stressed that it is important to show society that China's high-speed rail technology is advanced and qualified.

"We remain confident," He said.

The remarks of the railway authorities are pertinent: They show their attitude toward high-speed railway safety, which is a major concern of the masses. Second, they express confidence in China's high-speed railway technology and the sector's future development. It is critical for relevant departments to respond in a timely manner in the aftermath of major safety accidents.

Certainly, the confidence expressed by the railway authorities must come with the precondition of profoundly understanding and reviewing safety problems. This is the only way to enable the masses to step out of the shadow and restore confidence.

After the "July 23" accident, it is understandable that the safety of high-speed railways has become a hot topic. The railway department must seriously take the safety of high-speed railways as the priority of priorities in its post-accident work. A series of safety problems exposed by the accident must be answered by practical investigations, solved by subsequent measures and absolutely prevented in the future by effective systems.

Currently, the results of the investigation on the cause of the accident have not come out yet, but the problems are present in front of faces. Whatever the results will be, a drawn-out war for guaranteeing the safety of high-speed railways has already started.

The Minister of Railways of China Sheng Guangzu said in an emergency TV and telephone conference on national transportation safety held recently that China will carry out a large-scale two-month production safety inspection activity starting from now to the end of September, great efforts must be made to find out and solve the outstanding issues of production safety and a safe production situation must be achieved as soon as possible. The safety of high-speed railways and buses must be regarded as the priority and all the potential problems must be find out and solved.

Such a large-scale inspection and rectification activity is a necessary step after an accident and will achieve effective results. But the most important thing is that the railway department should seize this opportunity and change all the effective measures and systems on safety into daily routines so that they could be effective permanently.

The high-speed railway technologies are advanced technologies, but the more advanced the railways are, the higher the operation, management and service levels should be. Safety is the foundation for the operation of high-speed railway and the foundation for high-speed railways to gain trust. Without this foundation, the people will not get on the trains no matter how advanced the high-speed railway technologies will be.

By Zhong Yiwei from Guangming Daily, translated by People's Daily Online

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