Beijing railway chief axed in wake of crash

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am


In another indication that more reshuffles are looming in the nation's embattled railway system, the railways minister has announced plans to 'remove' Beijing Railway's bureau chief, Huang Guizhang, and transfer him to another position, state media reported.

Sheng Guangzu made the announcement during a conference call on Thursday, The Beijing News reported yesterday.

Sheng raised last week's minor derailment of a Beijing-bound train in citing safety issues but did not link it directly to Huang's dismissal, the paper reported, citing unnamed contacts in the ministry.

He Yuhua, the chairman of the rail union, is widely expected to take over control of the capital's rail ministry, while speculation is rife that Huang may be transferred to a deputy managerial post at Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Corporation.

Xinhua reported later yesterday the Beijing bureau had confirmed Huang had on 'a previous day been transferred away from his original post, and has another assignment'.

It referred to the possible post with the high-speed railway company but cited 'related persons' in the Beijing bureau as saying the final decision was yet to be announced.

Separately, it was reported yesterday that a senior rail official committed suicide in Nanning, Guangxi province, earlier this month, sparking speculation that more heads are to roll as the long-running corruption probe into the railway system continues.

Li Zhi, the head of operations at the city's rail bureau, jumped to his death from an apartment block on October 7.

Witnesses told the 21st Century Business Herald the 39-year-old had entered the building in an agitated state just minutes earlier.

A local rail official told the paper four days after the suicide: 'Investigators sent by the Ministry of Railways have been running a big investigation into the Nanning bureau since October 7. Many cadres have been called in for a chat.'

The unnamed official said Li's suicide was 'definitely linked' to the case of Shao Liping , the former head of the Nanning bureau who was dismissed and investigated in June.

Huang, 49, has been the director of the Beijing bureau since September 2008. He was formerly the bureau chief in Nanchang, having started his career studying at the Changsha Railways Institute - now part of Central Southern University - and gained distinction implementing rail reforms in 2004.

Last week's accident involved the front engine of a train that jumped the tracks. No one was injured in the incident, but the train was involved in a derailment two years ago.

The incident has further intensified attention on the mainland's rail network, coming in the wake of a collision on the Shanghai subway line last month that injured almost 300 passengers and the Wenzhou high-speed-train crash in July that claimed at least 40 lives.