Planet Gore

Don’t Be Like China, High-Speed Rail Edition


Rail Line Collapses in China

Failure of New Unopened Section, After July Accident, Adds to Industry’s Woes

BEIJING—A section of new high-speed rail line in central China has apparently collapsed two months before it was scheduled to go into use, in the latest blow to the nation’s already troubled high-speed rail ambitions.

The extent of the collapse wasn’t clear. The state-run Xinhua news agency and other local media said Monday that a 300-meter (almost 1,000-foot) section of a high-speed rail line intended to connect the Yangtze River cities of Wuhan and Yichang collapsed Friday, apparently following heavy rain. The collapse, near the city of Qianjiang in China’s Hubei province, happened on a rail line that had already undergone test runs.

The reports mentioned no casualties and offered few details. Xinhua said hundreds of construction workers were rushing to repair the affected section.

However, Hou Xinyue, a local railway official in Qianjiang, disputed the media reports, saying the incident affected 4.3 miles of the rail line, a larger amount of track than reported by state media. Mr. Hou, deputy director of a local office that oversees one 27-mile section of the 175-mile Wuhan-Yichang line, said rail tracks on an above-ground platform sank as the foundation gave way, possibly due to heavy rains.

Mr. Hou said the rail bureau in Qianjiang was still investigating the accident. He didn’t disclose further details.

While the Xinhua reports also blamed heavy rains as the main trigger, other local media cited a recent report by the state-run magazine Time Weekly, which said that engineers working on the construction of the Wuhan-Yichang high-speed line had complained of a sloppy construction method used by builders on another section of the same line, with soil substituted for rocks in the railway bed. Details of the Time Weekly report couldn’t be confirmed.

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