Chinese leaders are on the defensive – as experts say the regime pushed for its bullet trains to be developed too quickly to ensure safety. It comes in the wake of a train accident in Wenzhou on Saturday that killed at least three-dozen passengers, including two Americans.
A senior analyst at IHS Global Insight – a systems expert familiar with the technology used for guiding trains – publicly criticized the rushed development.
[Ren Xianfang, HIS Global Insight]:
“Starting from 2008, China’s high speed rail has been developing very rapidly. Under these circumstances, some of the software infrastructure wasn’t up to speed with the development, and this gap could have caused the accident we are facing today.”
After the Wenzhou crash, some citizens who were supportive of the rail project are now rethinking whether it’s still safe.
[Zhang Qingfei, Businesswoman]:
“At the moment I wouldn’t dare get on that train.”
The expansion of the high-speed rail network is a major PR initiative for the Chinese regime. It’s meant to show that China is on a technological and economic par with its close rival, Japan. By 2015, Chinese authorities will spend an estimated $600 billion on the rail project. But it’s been surrounded by financial scandal, as key players face charges of embezzlement and bribery.