Safety laws target high-speed railways
The central government is considering legislation that would make China's railway system safer, in part by banning the hasty completion of high-speed lines.
The drafted legislation comes as the national auditor issued its latest findings of financial irregularities in rushed high-speed rail projects.
Public feedback will be collected for one month on the drafted legislation, which was posted on the official website of the State Council's Legislative Affairs Office on Monday.
The legislation is seen as part of a national overhaul of rail safety, after hastily completed rail projects were partially blamed for a deadly crash in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, last July that killed at least 40 people and injured nearly 200 others.
The draft calls for a ban on contractors rushing to finish high-speed rail projects early, as well as from taking actions that would undermine construction quality. If approved, the requirements would be implemented in all ongoing and future projects.
New regulations under the draft would also require that the supply of railway-construction materials be monitored, in an effort to curb the use of substandard items. Trains that are under construction or receiving maintenance would be required to have proper permits cleared by the State Council's railway-management officials.
The draft further states that suppliers of railway-construction materials, signalling software and control-and-communication facilities must obtain proper operating permits from the council.
Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based political commentator, said he expected that the number of accidents would be reduced with strengthened management and improved facilities, but he also noted that such measures would not be able to address all of the safety concerns regarding high-speed railways.
'We are still seeing large-scale corruption in high-speed railway projects, and this is caused by institutionalised graft. This can be solved only through a system overhaul,' Hu said.
The proposed regulations came as the Beijing-based Legal Daily said yesterday that a report by the national auditor found a misappropriation of 237 million yuan (HK$289 million) in railway projects.
It also found unacceptable receipts and invoices, exceeding 800 million yuan, related to five high-speed rail lines, from Shijiazhuang to Zhengzhou, Nanning to Guangzhou, Guizhou to Guangzhou, Yichang to Wanzhou and Taiyuan to Zhongwei .
China has built the world's largest high-speed railway network, spanning more than 8,000 kilometres. It is expected to exceed 13,000 kilometres by the end of next year.
The number of people killed in a high-speed rail crash in Wenzhou last year, which also injured about 200