China rail in slow motion
BEIJING, 3 October 2011 – China’s railways ministry has ordered delays to ongoing rail projects following a deadly high-speed accident, a move likely to impact foreign participation in the industry, state press said Saturday.
The slowdown follows concerns over the safety of China’s high-speed rail network, which has been dogged by controversy after a 23 July collision between two bullet trains killed at least 40 people and left nearly 200 injured.
“Over 80% of rail projects currently being built are facing construction slowdowns along the entire line, with many projects facing a one-year delay in completion,” the 21st Century Business Herald reported.
Rail projects already completed were also called on to postpone their formal opening of operations, the report said, citing an unnamed source close to the railways ministry.
“Almost all banks have temporarily stopped lending for railway construction,” the source said.
The government also temporarily suspended all plans with foreign companies to build high-speed railways abroad, the paper said.
Calls to the railways ministry went unanswered Saturday, which was the start of the nation’s week-long national day holiday.
China has developed its vast transport network at breakneck speed, building the world’s largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade.
But the government has been accused of overlooking safety in its rush to develop, most notably after the July high-speed rail crash near Wenzhou city and a metro collision in Shanghai on Tuesday that injured nearly 300.
In the weeks following the July crash, the government announced a halt to new train projects.
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