After a horrific Chinese bullet train crash two weeks ago in Wenzhou, south of Shanghai, tragically killed 40 people and injured an estimated 200 more, Chinese officials have sharply altered high-speed rail operations across the nation to reevaluate the ambitious infrastructure plans.
Although the July 23 accident was blamed on faulty signaling equipment, China’s State Council is lowering the top speeds of trains by roughly 30 mph across the board on high-speed rail lines. The terrible incident hasn’t stopped funding of rail plans, however, as the government quickly issued over $3 billion in short-term capital to continue to build and upgrade lines in China.
In conjunction with the government’s announcement to lower train speeds, the China CNR manufacturing company recalled 54 trains that were to be used in the much-talked-about route between Shanghai and Beijing, further setting back plans to connect most of the country’s major cities.
Do these moves make sense for China? Apparently, even a country as ambitious as China has been across a range of green technology initiatives must take proper time to ensure safety isn’t forsaken. Funding will continue, but for public consumption at least, more diligence on the safety front will have to be part of the picture. And there’s also the issue of corruption and other problems that needs to be addressed.