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June 28, 2011

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Top engineer insists bullet trains safe

CHINA'S bullet trains are "absolutely safe," the Ministry of Railways' chief engineer assured the public yesterday, ahead of the opening of the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed rail service.

He Huawu dismissed safety concerns raised by a former top engineer at the ministry.

"The claims of the former MOR official are groundless," said He, adding that China's high-speed trains are "fast, comfortable and safe."

Zhou Yimin, the ministry's former deputy chief engineer, claimed last week that Chinese bullet trains were unsafe at more than 300 kilometers per hour.

Zhou said former railway Minister Liu Zhijun exaggerated the potential performance of trains on the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed link.

"That's not true," said He in response. He said the new generation of bullet trains are capable of reaching 350km/h during operation and "maintaining that speed."

Trains on the Shanghai-Beijing route will operate at two speed models, 300km/h and 250km/h, after the current railway Minister Sheng Guangzu announced a slowdown of the operational speed to ease costs and lower ticket prices.

Liu was dismissed in February in a graft probe.

In a reply to a Shanghai lawmaker, the Shanghai Railway Bureau gave details of the bullet train operator's plans for dealing with emergencies.

Passengers would be evacuated to safe carriages, to the closest stop or led to safety along the track, the bureau replied to questions raised by lawmaker Pei Zhen.

The 1,318-kilometer rail, which starts trial operations on May 11, is expected to boost the passenger transportation capability with 97,000 people every day traveling between the two metropolises.


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