Hubei High-Speed Rail Line Collapses

A 300-metre stretch of high-speed rail track near Wuhan collapsed on Friday due to “persistent rain”, according to Xinhua.

The Hanyi High-speed Railway, which links the provincial capital Wuhan and Yichang city, is expected to open in May. The collapsed part has already undergone test runs.

The roadbed of a 300-meter section rail in Qianjiang city collapsed Friday afternoon. Workers working the section said heavy rain in the past few days may have caused the problem.

The collapse came just days after a contractor on the rail line was accused of cutting corners in construction, and then distorting a supposedly independent quality assessment. From Global Times, via Seeing Red in China:

A Time Weekly report said Thursday that CGGC’s earth supplier Ni Hongjun reported to the authorities in 2010 that CGGC employees replaced at least 90,000 cubic meters of spall [crushed rock] with earth for personal benefit, causing serious safety risks for high-speed trains and passengers.

However, a “third-party” inspection report released in September 2011 by the Civil Engineering Testing Center of Central South University said, under the influence of CGGC, that the project was “qualified”. The report prevented the authorities and the public from knowing the truth ….

The Wuhan-Yichang high-speed railway runs in Central China’s Hubei Province, an area prone to flooding caused by the Yangtze River and its tributaries. Replacing spall with earth for the project amounts to building a house on the foundation of cake, the source said.

See also Seeing Red in China’s post on the collapse, which it describes as “a tragedy averted by luck”.

High-speed rail safety has been a particularly sensitive issue in China since last year’s Wenzhou disaster, which killed 40 people. Poor construction was a major source of public anger following the widespread collapse of school buildings during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, but nevertheless remains rife.