International

China Blames Bad Management For Deadly Bullet Train Crash

Workers clear mangled wreckage at the scene of a bullet train collision on July 24. i

Workers clear mangled wreckage at the scene of a bullet train collision on July 24. STR/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption STR/AFP/Getty Images
Workers clear mangled wreckage at the scene of a bullet train collision on July 24.

Workers clear mangled wreckage at the scene of a bullet train collision on July 24.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese investigators have officially meted out responsibility for last July's bullet train crash that killed 40 people and injured 172. The Chinese government says it will punish 54 officials for failing to keep one high speed train from crashing into the back of a second train as it was stopped over a bridge. Some of the cars derailed.

China's former railway minister and deputy chief engineer are the main culprits, according to Xinhua, a Chinese news agency. The report cited problems with railway signaling equipment, the bidding process to award the equipment contract, and safety inspections.

The rail ministry and the Shanghai Railway Bureau are blamed for failing to "act properly" after the crash. The report adds this nugget: "(the agencies) were unable to disclose relevant information on issues of social concern, leaving a negative social influence."

That could include rail ministry workers, who spent a few hours after the accident searching for victims, according to the New York Times (paywall), then buried one train carriage before crash investigators arrived on the scene in Wenzhou. A toddler survived for nearly a day in the wreckage, hours after the search had been called off.

Critics of the crash probe are shouting online, denouncing the investigation as "an international joke", according to the Telegraph. China previously muted public discussion about the incident: as Eyder wrote, just a week after the accident, the Chinese government forbade negative media coverage of the wreck.

And as the probe is released, the Wall Street Journal reports China just unveiled its fastest bullet train yet. The top speeds of current locomotives are about 186 miles per hour; the new train may reach speeds of about 310 miles per hour. There's no word on when the new train might start service.

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