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China's State Council orders safety checks on high-speed rails, slower running speeds

(Xinhua)

15:06, August 11, 2011

A bullet train runs in south China's Hainan Province, Aug. 10, 2011. China's State Council on Wednesday ordered safety checks on high-speed railways and slower running speeds. The decision was made at an executive meeting of the State Council, which was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, in the wake of a deadly bullet train crash that killed 40 people. (Xinhua/Meng Zhongde)

BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- The State Council, or the Cabinet, on Wednesday ordered safety checks on high-speed railways and slower running speeds after a fatal collision raised concerns over the fast-growing high-speed rail sector.

The decision was made at an executive meeting of the State Council, which was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, in the wake of a deadly bullet train crash that killed 40 people last month.

The safety checks cover high-speed railways that are both in operation and under construction, said a statement released after the meeting, without saying when the task will start.

The State Administration of Work Safety will lead the inspection on equipment quality, operation safety, and design and quality of rails under construction, the statement said.

The government will reevaluate the system safety on rail projects that have received government approval but have not commenced construction, the statement said, requiring a temporary halt of approval of new railway projects.

The government will ramp up investment to improve operation safety of high-speed trains.

The safety of the high-speed railways was questioned after high-speed trains on a line near the eastern city of Wenzhou collided on July 23, leaving 40 people dead and 191 injured. The incident has been blamed on faulty signalling equipment.

"We feel deep guilt and sorrow about the tragic losses of life and property in the accident," said Sheng Guangzu, Minister of Railways, at the meeting.

The accident has exposed holes in safety and management of rail traffic, as well as the lack of experiences in handling emergencies, he said.

The investigation into the causes and compensation are currently underway, the statement said.

The statement also ordered newly-built high-speed rails to run at slower speeds during the initial stages. More ordinary trains will be added to railways after the government implements the newly reduced speeds for bullet trains, the statement added.


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