Saturday, July 23, 2011

With Chinese High-Speed Rail, it's just one damn thing after another.

One line of speculation has been that if the California High-Speed Rail Authority can't get enough federal funding for its project, and if it also can't get private investor loans, they will go to the Chinese and have them build the train, and perhaps even operate it as part of the deal.

Well, we are now watching how that will turn out.  First corruption. Then faulty and shoddy construction.  Then critical safety issues.  Then, beginning operations, mechanical failure and power outages. Then, they had to cut prices and reduce the number of operating trains due to lack of passengers.  They even had to take their "first class" HSR trains and take out all the fancy interior fittings, and replace them with more appropriate ones for a Communist country, if you see what I mean.

Now, derailment.  Falling off a bridge, for God's sake!  People getting killed.

Attention, Sacramento Legislators who are still so enthusiastic about building this monstrosity on the back of the taxpayers.

Watch what's going on in China and learn.  Maybe this train is not such a good idea for California after all?

As we like to say, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Former CHSRA Chairman Quentin Kopp used to say repeatedly how no fatal accidents had ever happened on High-Speed Rail.  He was wrong, of course, then (Eshede), and he's certainly wrong about it after this major event.

High Speed Train Derails in China
Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 at 3:10 pm UTC

Two cars from one of China's new, high-speed bullet trains have derailed, falling off a bridge.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency said the train derailed late Saturday in China eastern Zhejiang province.

Officials said rescue crews are on their way to the scene but they had no immediate information about possible casualties.

The train had been traveling from the provincial capital of Hangzhou to the city of Wenzhou when it went off the tracks.

Chinese officials opened the country's high speed rail line late last month with great fanfare.
At the time, the Ministry of Railways's chief engineer, He Hua Wu, told reporters taking the inaugural trip that the new rail link is the “pride of China and Chinese people.”

China has spent billions of dollars to build the 1,300 kilometer line from Beijing and Shanghai. Travelling at 300 kilometers per hour, the line radically cuts travel time between China's capital and its financial hub to less than five hours.

Critics say the multi-billion-dollar plan is too expensive for a country where millions of people live in poverty, and that the lines are being built primarily to boost Beijing's prestige.

Earlier this month, a storm-induced power failure caused a 90-minute delay. Several passengers complained on Twitter-like microblogs about conditions on the trains, which were left without lights or air conditioning. The China Daily newspaper quoted one blogger saying her carriage “is stifling, and there is a lack of oxygen.” Another wrote that passengers were beginning to “lose patience and become agitated.”


Chinese state media say bullet train derails, killing 11
By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, July 23, 11:58 AM
BEIJING — At least 11 people were killed and 89 hurt Saturday when a Chinese bullet train lost power after being struck by lightning and was hit from behind by another train, knocking two of its carriages off a bridge, state media reported.

The official Xinhua New Agency said four cars on the second train also derailed, but it did not say how serious that was.

The first train was traveling from the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou when the accident happened in Wenzhou city at about 8:30 p.m. (1230 GMT), Xinhua said.

It said one carriage from the first train fell about 65 to 100 feet (20 to 30 meters). Pictures on the Internet showed the second car was standing on its end and leaning against the bridge.

Xinhua quoted an unidentified witness as saying “rescuers have dragged many passengers out of the coach that fell on the ground.”

The trains involved are “D’’ trains, the first generation bullet train with an average speed of about 95 miles (150 kilometers) per hour and not as fast at the Beijing-Shanghai line that opened June 30.

Xinhua said the train hit by lightning was “D3115.” The other train was “D301,” which was traveling from Beijing to Shanghai.

China has spent billions and plans more massive spending to link the country with a high-speed rail network. Recently, power outages and other malfunctions have plagued the showcase new high-speed line between Beijing and Shanghai since it opened last month.

Official plans call for China’s bullet train network to expand to 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) of track this year and 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) by 2020.

The huge spending connected with the rail expansion also has been blamed for corruption, and Railways Minister Liu Zhijun was dismissed this spring amid an investigation into unspecified corruption allegations.

No details have been released about the allegations against him, but news reports say they include kickbacks, bribes, illegal contracts and sexual liaisons.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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