Railway ministry pledges "absolute safety" in operation of high-speed railways after fatal crash

09:46, August 04, 2011      

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China's railway authority said that it will ensure "absolute safety" in the operation of its high-speed railways after a deadly train crash on July 23 claimed 40 lives and injured 191 others.

The Ministry of Railways said in an article carried by People's Railway Daily posted on its website on Wednesday that railway staff should fully implement safety measures in order to ensure stable and secure railway transportation in the long-term, citing railway minister Sheng Guangzu.

Serious design flaws in railway signaling equipment caused one high-speed train to slam into another near the city of Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province last month, leaving 40 people dead and 191 injured.

The July 23 accident was a "bloody lesson" that left railway personnel with feelings of deep guilt and grief, Sheng told a meeting attended by railway officials on Tuesday.

Railway authorities should work to strenghten control of access of new equipment to China's high-speed railways strictly in accordance with laws and regulations, he said.

Public concerns were raised after the Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signaling and Communication Co. (CRSCD), designer and builder of the flawed signal system, took responsibility for the accident but failed to offer a sufficient explanation to the public.

The institution, a subsidiary of the state-owned China Railway Signal and Communication Corp.(CRSC), has enjoyed a near monopoly in the closed railway signaling system market, according to earlier media reports.

The flawed railway signaling equipment is currently being used at another 76 train stations across the country, according to railway officials.

The ministry has started monitoring the stations and will halt operations if any malfunctions are detected, said Peng Kaizhou, China's deputy minister of railways.

The ministry did not offer details on how it will supervise and manage the introduction of new equipment in the future, but vowed to eliminate "hidden troubles" and ensure the smooth operation of signaling systems, power supply systems, CRH trains and disaster prevention systems.

Lightning has been blamed for several power failures that occurred on the country's newly-opened Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway in the past month. The power failures caused train delays and triggered doubts about China's recently acquired high-speed railway technology.

Sheng ordered strengthened management of high-speed railway equipment and improved training for top technicians, as well as strict implementation for new railway project construction schedules and improved safety checks for new railways.

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