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Transport and logistics

Firms punished for cutting corners on Chinese high-speed rail line

Contractors cut corners building track on the Shanghai to Kunming line, compromising safety, rail authority says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 10:21am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 1:26pm

China’s national railway operator has punished contractors for poor quality construction work on a stretch of high-speed line in southwest China.

China Railway Corporation said in a statement published on social media that it had found evidence of poor quality work on the Guizhou province section of the Shanghai to Kunming line.

The corporation said it had launched an investigation after a series of quality issues were discovered in June and July.

No details were given of the problems, but a tunnel in Guizhou was flooded on June 30, forcing the authorities to suspend train services for three days.

The problems had “undermined train operation safety, interrupted transportation and impaired efficiency and effectiveness”, the statement added.

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The case come as China is in the middle of a massive programme to extend its high-speed rail network, already the largest in the world.

The system now has 22,000km of track, with plans to increase this to 30,000km by 2020, connecting more than 80 per cent of the nation’s big cities.

The rail authority statement said contractors had not used correct materials in building work, illegally subcontracted work and fabricated paperwork.

The report blamed several subsidiaries of China Railway Construction Corp, China Railway Eryuan Engineering, as well as firms in Guizhou and Shanxi and Gansu provinces.

Some of the companies have been active in overseas infrastructure projects as part of Beijing’s “Belt and Road” international trade initiative.

Two construction companies, both subsidiaries of China Railway Construction Corp, have been banned from bidding for major rail projects for a year, according to the statement.

Two construction supervisory firms and a design company have also been suspended from making rail project bids.

The 2,252km Shanghai to Kunming high-speed line opened last December.

It allows passengers to travel from Shanghai to southwestern Yunnan province in 11 hours at speeds of up 330km/h, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

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China’s massive high-speed rail programme received a severe setback in 2011 when 40 people were killed and nearly 200 injured in a train crash near Wenzhou in Zhejiang province.

The country’s top railway official was later given a suspended death sentence on corruption charges and the speed of high-speed trains was lowered across the network.

China is now stepping up the construction of high-speed rail links and train speeds have been raised.