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Engineer defends high-speed rail technology

Updated: 2012-04-01 09:01


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BEIJING - A Chinese engineer recently defended the country's high-speed railway technology, dismissing safety concerns regarding the world's biggest high-speed rail network.

"China's current high-speed railway technology can prevent head-on and rear-end collisions," Wang Mengshu, chief engineer of the China Railway Tunnel Group, said during an interview with China Economic Weekly, a magazine affiliated with the state-run People's Daily newspaper.

China's high-speed railways have come under scrutiny in recent months following a deadly train collision that killed 40 people in east China last July.

Wang said management failures such as insufficient training for operators were the major safety problems.

"A lack of training left operators at a loss when faced with a possible accident," the engineer said.

Wang rejected suggestions that the railway network has expanded too fast, stating that the total length of China's railways adds up to 91,000 km, just a third of the total length in the US.

The engineer warned against halting high-speed railway construction, as it could cause significant job losses.

Railway construction has generated jobs for more than 6 million migrant workers and stimulated the growth of the steel, cement and other raw material sectors, according to Wang.

The government has set a goal of building 120,000 km of railways by 2020. Wang said that in order to meet the target, authorities must invest 600 billion yuan annually in railway construction.

However, the Ministry of Railways announced in December that it plans to invest 400 billion yuan in railway infrastructure construction in 2012, down from 469 billion yuan in 2011 and a marked decrease from over 700 billion yuan in 2010.