Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is China's high-speed rail system about to slow down?

A week ago, two high-speed trains collided in the eastern province of Zhejiang (the first stopped by a lighting strike, while the second crashed after passing a defective warning signal). The government, in an attempt to “manage” the situation, started to bury the evidence at the scene, which led to outcries by the press and negative comments share across the Internet. This incident follows dismissals earlier this year of China's railway minister,Liu Zhijun, and a leading engineer, Zhang Shuguang, for potential corruption.

MY TAKE

  • The accident is tragic and the government’s handling is, at best, misguided. While China’s high-speed rail system (consists of a build out of approx. 2,800 miles of track since 2007) has been a symbol of its economic ascendance; corruption, poor construction and questionable financing are tarnishing its image. 
  • This incident joins other large public works projects around the world that are populated with hoodlums and mishaps. 
  •  However, China’s crowded roads and canals need transportation alternatives. Expansion may slow in the short term, but progress will continue.

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