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More high-speed trains slow down to improve safety

(China Daily)

08:08, August 23, 2011

BEIJING - More high-speed trains will slow down starting Sunday to increase safety, rail authorities said.

The announcement comes as media disclosed new problems with one model of the high-speed train.

Rail authorities said that the last 350 km/h rail service between Shanghai and Hangzhou will slow to 300 km/h starting Aug 28. Seven other lines that had operated at 250 km/h will now go 200 km/h.

Last Tuesday, three railways slowed down and the number of trains on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway was reduced from 88 pairs a day to 66 pairs a day, because China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp Ltd (CNR), one of China's two major train manufacturers, recalled 54 CRH380BL trains.

Though CNR explained the recall was due to "small problems with components", Caixin Century Weekly magazine speculated that the real reason behind the recall may be cracks on the train axles.

The magazine reported that maintenance workers with the Jinan railway bureau discovered a 7.1-millimeter-long, 2.4-millimeter-wide crack on an axle of a CRH380BL train on July 15. It was suggested the axle be replaced.

Any axle that has a crack longer than 2 millimeters must be replaced, according to standards set by the railway ministry. Otherwise, the axle could break and the train may derail.

The magazine said at least four axles on such trains have so far been replaced because of flaws.

The claim was immediately denied by CNR.

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