China’s High-speed Rail Glitches: Racing to Make Errors?

Following its high-profile launch in time for the CCP’s 90th anniversary on July 1, the new high-speed rail line between Beijing and Shanghai ha encountered a number of embarrassing glitches. From the Los Angeles Times:

In the first incident, a short-circuit delayed 19 trains in Shandong province on Sunday, knocking out air-conditioning and leaving passengers sweltering inside the luxury cars for hours.

On Tuesday, another power outage brought 30 trains to a temporary halt. And on Wednesday, a transformer malfunction slowed a train to half its top speed, forcing passengers onto a backup train.

Though officials blamed thunderstorms and winds for the problems, the delays add to the suspicion that so-called face projects had been rushed in China to open in time for the party’s anniversary on July 1.

The projects include the world’s longest sea bridge, which opened June 30 in the northeastern city of Qingdao without lights and guardrails in some sections. A China Central Television reporter inspecting the 26-mile Jiaozhou Bay Bridge found nut caps loosely fastened into existing guardrails. Construction workers told the state broadcaster that they still needed two months to complete the span.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Railways has apologized for and downplayed the problems. From AP:

Railways Ministry spokesman Wang Yongping apologized Thursday in an “online chat” posted on the ministry’s website, acknowledging that the 1,318-kilometer (820-mile) line which began commercial operations June 30 has experienced several dozen power outages in the past week.

He appealed for public understanding, saying that summer thunderstorms and winds have caused some of the problems.

[…] “These malfunctions did not cause any major safety risks, but they have truly affected the railway’s operation,” he said.

The railway will do its best to overcome the problems and operate the trains more smoothly, Wang said.

Despite the troubles, the railway carried an average of 165,000 passengers daily from July 1 to 13, with a peak of 197,000 people, he said.

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