In January, Chinese Railways Minister Liu Zhijun claimed that the Shanghai-Beijing high speed rail link would cut the 10 hour trip between the two cities in half. He also claimed that Chinese made trains set to run on the link tested at speeds reaching 300 mph.
In 2003 Liu urged officials to make trains faster and, “Seize the opportunity, build more railways, and build them fast.”
That was before Liu was sacked on suspicions of corruption in February. And, of course, it was before today, when one of his Deputy Ministers, Zhou Yimin, revealed that claims that the trains could run at a constant speed of 217 mph were greatly exaggerated.
The real speed is more in the 150 mph range. Oops. According to Zhou, who took part in the railways feasibility studies, taking the trains up to 217 mph would be dangerous to everyone on board. In fact, that’s also what Siemens said when they sold the train components to the Chinese government- they warned that reaching 186 mph for over a few minutes was beyond their capability (via Shanghai Daily).
“If any problem happens while the train is running at such a high speed, the consequences would be unimaginable, as China doesn’t have the experience and technology to solve the issue,” Zhou said.
He added that China still lacked the research and development capacity to improve on Siemens’ parts, and that glitches in other railways across the country had been kept a secret. The $32.5 billion Shanghai-Beijing railway is scheduled to open at the end of this month.
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