Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The latest word from those happy high-speed rail builders in China

This article is from the Hong-Kong Standard.  It's dated tomorrow.  And for us in California, the "Future Lies Ahead!"   

"Oh, why can't we be more like the Chinese, with all their high-speed rail construction?"  Well, if our CHSRA had their way, along with all their Democratic supporters, we would be. . . just like them.
Are we not being told, daily, about how far behind we are in the race for the most and fastest trains?

And, aren't the Chinese scrambling to have the most and the fastest for the prestige in front of the rest of the world?  Now that the curtain is being lifted on China's HSR efforts, might we not reconsider our competitive drive in the high-speed rail race?

Faulty construction?  Unsafe?  Where have we heard that before?  Oh, I know, it's the Boston Big Dig, with Parsons Brinckerhoff in charge. Remember that project, which started with cost projections around $2 billion and ended up costing $22 billion? 

Corruption? Waste, fraud and abuse? We've started on that path already, as the State Auditor pointed out, but in more polite language. 

A project that accumulates huge debts?  With stunning cost over-runs?  The cost of HSR to the Chinese is, (gasp!) $2.36 trillion.  That's TRILLION!  The entire US HSR program will also cost in the trillions and no one has a clue to how to pay for it.  That, apparently, is not enough reason to stop it.  

This scenario sounds like a bad movie, except it's real and we, in California, are on our way to becoming a bad copy of this financial disaster in China.

It is essential that each and every legislator in the United States, at the National, State and local levels, reads this brief report from Hong-Kong.

And, for those in California eager for the Chinese to come here to provide the funding and build the high-speed rail for us, I have only one question:  

What could possibly go wrong?

Rush rail job raises fears

Beth Ye 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

China's railway system and its high- speed railways have been found to have many problems following the dismissal of railways minister Liu Zhijun last month for disciplinary violations.

Yesterday, Liu's right-hand man - Zhang Shuguang - was also removed from his post as the ministry's deputy chief engineer. He is also under investigation, Xinhua News Agency reported.
With the ouster of the two men, many problems have been uncovered concerning China's rail expansion and high- speed train development.

China started its ambitious two- trillion-yuan (HK$2.36 trillion) railway project in 2004, aiming to build a total of 16,000 kilometers of high-speed railways linking all major cities by 2020.

Under Liu, the operational high- speed rail network has expanded to more than 4,670 kilometers by the end of 2010, with over half of that having an average speed of 350 km per hour, carrying 800,000 passengers daily.

The world's fastest network is now not only reported to have a total debt of over one trillion yuan, but also has been found to have major safety risks.

The potential safety problems were likely caused by rushed construction, hasty quality testing of raw materials, shoddy work and inferior materials used during construction, experts say.

A German expert on quality testing is said to have stormed out of a meeting in a row over construction, while one mainland engineer on the program said he would never ride on the system.

It usually takes 10 years to build a high-speed rail network in the West, according to experts, but China took only two years.
Beijing is now demanding that departments reassess the safety of high- speed railways.

Meanwhile, Shanxi businesswoman Ding Shumiao is reported by Century Weekly Magazine to have used her ties with Liu to help state-owned enterprises win projects and earned 800 million yuan in return. Liu, 58, has been married three times, and has been reported to have at least 18 mistresses.