high-speed train accidents in China; Brings back memories of the 2011 crash when dozens were killed due to ‘design flaws’

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China boasts of the largest bullet (high-speed) train network in the world. However, the meticulously constructed rail network is not invincible against accidents.

On Saturday, a “D2809” high-speed train derailed in southern China, killing the driver and injuring eight others, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

According to the report, the train derailed at 10:30 a.m. after encountering debris from a landslide that intruded the tracks as it approached Rongjiang county in Guizhou province.

The train is operated by the CRH2A Harmony high-speed train. There are eight coaches on board, with a total capacity of 613 passengers. The train usually departs from Guiyang North Station around 9:00 a.m. and arrives at Guangzhou South Station at 2:34 p.m., according to Global Times.

“Two coaches of D2809, a high-speed train from Guiyang, SW. Chinese Guizhou, bound for Guangzhou, southern China, derailed at a station in Guizhou due to a landslide at 10:30 a.m. Saturday The train driver died and seven passengers suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

D2809 derailed due to landslide – CCTV

While one died, seven passengers and a crew member were injured. The remaining 136 people were successfully evacuated.

After analyzing the on-board data, China Railway said the driver, who sadly died in the accident, noticed an abnormal railway track when the high-speed train was passing through the Yuezhai Tunnel and promptly instituted emergency braking measures. emergency in five seconds, which only caused him to practice sliding 900 meters.

In addition, the impact of the high-speed railway against the wall and the tunnel structure protected the train from falling and overturning.

Chinese high-speed trains are designed for speeds of 200 to 350 km. There are three types of high-speed trains in China: G, D and C trains. D trains are the second fastest and are mainly used on popular rail routes that connect major cities.

installations and comparison on three types of high-speed trains in China
Source: China Highlights

In 2011, a high-speed train crashed near the city of Wenzhou in southeastern Zhejiang province, killing 40 people. The Chinese government later admitted that the accident was caused by design flaws and sloppy management.

Many Chinese have accused the government of prioritizing development and profit over safety in the wake of the crash. It also sparked a wave of public outrage at officials believed to have tried to cover up the severity and causes of the crash.

After officials reportedly muzzled media coverage and ordered reporters to focus on rescue efforts, netizens criticized the government’s response to the disaster.

In the aftermath of the accident, the number of commuters on the high-speed train plummeted. However, it quickly picked up and there have been no serious incidents on the network since 2011.

Chinese high-speed rail network

China’s high-speed rail network is 37,900 kilometers long. Inter-city travel has been altered and the supremacy of the airlines on the major axes has been broken, thanks to the network of high-speed trains with maximum speeds of 350 km/h on many lines.

Just ahead of the Winter Olympics, China unveiled the iconic Fuxing bullet train, which can also travel at a top speed of 350 km/h.

China Winter Olympic Train

China’s State Council announced earlier this year that it plans to expand the country’s high-speed train network to 50,000 kilometers by 2025, from 38,000 kilometers at the end of 2020.

Spain, which has the largest high-speed network in Europe and is second in the world rankings, is a point in comparison, with just over 2,000 kilometers of dedicated lines built at speeds over 250 kilometers per hour.

By comparison, the UK has only 107 kilometers of high-speed rail, while the US has just one in Amtrak’s North East Corridor, where Acela trains reach 240 km/ h on expensively refurbished portions of an existing route shared with commuter and freight trains. .

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Acela Bullet Train (via Twitter)

Chinese companies are among the first in the world to implement modern signaling and control technologies, as well as autonomous (driverless) rail operations.

The new route, which opened in December 2019 as part of Beijing’s preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, has cut travel time from three hours to less than 60 minutes for the 174-kilometer journey.

The fastest trains only take 45 minutes to complete the journey.


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