A former top railway official applauded the Ministry of Railways' decision to slash the speed for China's new trains to no more than 300 kilometers an hour (km/h), denouncing the hasty expansion of China's high-speed railway network, according to a report on the news website caijing.com.cn Tuesday.
Former railways minister Liu Zhijun, who was removed from his post in a corruption investigation in February, had told a whopper when he said China's high-speed trains could run at 350 km/h, the former deputy chief engineer of the railways ministry Zhou Yimin told the 21st Century Business Herald.
China railways had bought German and Japanese trains, Zhou told the Shanghai-based newspaper, and "the foreigners wrote clearly in the contracts that the top speed should be 300 km/h so Liu's 350 km/h was untrue."
Raising speed meant compromising safety, Zhou said. Liu had even dared to tout a top speed of 380 km/h, Zhou said.
Being No. 1 in the world drove Liu's passion for rapid expansion of China's high-speed rail network, Zhou said.
China reportedly would build 42 high-speed rail passenger lines, a total 13,000 kilometers in three years from 2009.
"In fact, glitches are commonplace in current high-speed lines," Zhou said. "Some may appear small, but they weren't actually small at all – and all of them were kept secret."
The CRH 5 train between Beijing and Shenyang in Liaoning Province had been forced to stop halfway several times due to malfunctions, Zhou said.
The maximum design speed of the CRH is 350 kilometers per hour, Wang Mengshu, a professor at the Tunnel and Underground Engineering Research Center at the Beijing Jiaotong University, said to the Global Times Tuesday, "But that doesn't mean trains should operate at that speed. Considering safety, trains always operate at lower speeds."
Operating at more moderate speeds also extended the train's life, he said.
"We should not have insisted on the concept that every part of our domestic products need to be manufactured in China, and we should have gone the market route," Wang said.
"We should have made sure the parts are all the very best."
Chinese engineers had found the very best and safest way of constructing viaducts to avoid ground instability, Wang explained.
"The Qinghai-Tibet railway and the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail are mostly built on viaducts," he said.