Ministry cites SOEs for 'serious' rail flaws
Toh Han Shih
The Ministry of Railways has cited several Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) over 'serious' quality and safety flaws in 12 mainland rail lines.
Among the SOEs are companies listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai, including China Railway Group, China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and China Communications Construction (CCC), as well as companies like Sinohydro and Gezhouba that are only listed in Shanghai.
Subsidiaries of these companies involved in the 12 problem rail lines have been temporarily banned from bidding for rail projects and the guilty companies must bear the costs of rectifying their errors, according to the ministry's report dated August 1. In addition, the dozen companies managing the 12 flawed rail lines are required to conduct 'self-criticism' for the ministry.
The 12 rail lines include seven operational lines such as the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which is due to link up with Hong Kong in 2015.
These seven operational rail lines had problems such as cracks, peeling, water leaks and disconnected steel bars, which posed serious safety threats to train travel, a ministry report said. 'Some of these problems have already resulted in train accidents,' it said.
Along the Ningbo-Taizhou-Wenzhou high-speed railway, cables in signalling stations failed to meet quality standards, the report said. Signalling problems were a major cause of the train collision along this high-speed railway on July 23 last year that killed 40 people, according to the official report on the crash.
Seriously substandard work and inferior substitute materials were discovered on the other five rail lines under construction, including the Shanghai-Kunming high-speed railway and the Lanzhou-Chongqing railway. For example, slipshod construction was found in a bridge along the Shanghai-Kunming high-speed railway, which posed a serious safety risk, the report said.
Former railways minister Liu Zhijun is expected to stand trial soon for his role in the deadly July 23 crash as well as corruption involving multibillion-dollar high-speed rail projects. Liu, who launched the nation's high-speed rail programme in 2008, was sacked and arrested for suspected corruption in February last year.