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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Scandal of high-cost, high-speed railways

By Zha Minjie (Shanghai Daily)

09:52, February 21, 2012

China's bullet train system is raising questions again after media reports claimed equipment onboard was bought at prices much higher than the market rate.

An investigation by Century Weekly magazine into a purchase list of suppliers of parts for the CRH2 bullet train hinted at behind-the-scene deals and corruption during transactions.

China's bullet trains have been the subject of a series of scandals involving corruption, some of which are still under investigation.

Liu Zhijun, the former head of the state railway administration, was sacked amid a graft probe last year. Liu was said to have taken bribes from Ding Shumiao, a businesswoman in Shanxi Province, to give her priority in train equipment contracts.

Century Weekly reported that the purchase list, although not yet confirmed as genuine by train builders and railway authorities, showed that many items, such as seats and washstands, were bought at prices "several times higher than the retail price."

The list included the names, codes and types and prices of more than 3,000 pieces of equipment and materials needed on bullet trains.

CRH2 trains, produced by China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation (CSR) and a Japanese company, have been widely used on routes including the Shanghai-Nanjing and Beijing-Tianjing lines.

The magazine said that the cost of a single seat was about 30,000 yuan (US$4,763) and a double seat 40,000 yuan. The price of a VIP seat soared to 160,000 yuan. But it found similar products from other manufacturers at about a third lower.

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