China’s Bullet Trains to Return to Service after Recall

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese rail authorities this week will start to resume operation of 54 bullet trains which were halted after a deadly rail accident in July.

The official Xinhua news agency said Monday that six of the 54 trains will resume service on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway on Wednesday. If all goes well, the rest of the trains will be returned to service by December 6.

The China CNR Corporation, which built the trains, recalled them because of safety concerns, weeks after a collision between two trains in July that killed 40 people and injured nearly 200. An official told Xinhua the trains were returning to service after modifications and testing.

An investigation showed that the accident was caused by a faulty design in a signaling system.

The July accident triggered nationwide outrage, prompting officials to reevaluate investment in high-speed trains.

The Financial Times reported late last month that China has slammed the brakes on the most ambitious rail program in history.

The British newspaper said a shortage of funds has halted the construction of more than 10,000 kilometers of track nationwide. The cutback has left equipment idle and workers without pay.

Wang Mengshu, deputy chief engineer at the China Railway Tunnel Group, said that unless construction resumes, 6 million workers will begin to suffer.

The massive cutback in China's bullet train program comes as high-speed rail across the rest of the globe is booming.

According to the U.S.-based research organization Worldwatch Institute, the number of countries with high-speed rail service is likely to double in the next few years.