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Train maker enmeshed in luxury fitting controversy

Train maker enmeshed in luxury fitting controversy

Updated: 2012-03-08 19:20


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BEIJING - China's major bullet train maker remains mired in controversy despite refuting a damaging media report.

The China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation (CSR), the country's largest train manufacturer, on Tuesday refuted a media report claiming that it had spent lavishly on luxury fixtures. The report accuses the company of purchasing internal fixtures such as toilet fittings at prices far exceeding market averages from companies with "high-level connections" to the Ministry of Railways.

The statement, which runs to less than 200 words and came upon Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu's request, did not give any details apart from the denial, and was followed by the media's counter-statement.

Century Weekly, the magazine which ran a cover story about the CSR's alleged extravagant procurement, said the article was based on purchase documents it had obtained, and it would release those papers if necessary.

Last month, the magazine reported that the CSR had been paying up to 10 times more than market rates for toilet and other fittings supplied by new and unknown companies with government connections.

The report gave out a string of overpriced items including sink tops, water valves and chairs in the first class carriage.

For instance, sink tops were typically priced at 3,000 yuan ($474.9) per linear meter in Beijing's retail market, but the CSR bought a two-linear-meter one for 26,096 yuan, more than four times the market price, the magazine reported.

Much attention has been paid to bullet trains and their makers after a deadly rail accident last summer.

On July 23, a high-speed train rammed into a stalled train near the city of Wenzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang, leaving 40 dead and 172 injured.