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2011年7月26日 (火)

中国高速鉄道 安全軽視が招いた大事故だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 26, 2011)
Deadly wreck exposes China's railway flaws
中国高速鉄道 安全軽視が招いた大事故だ(7月25日付・読売社説)

"Hexie" is the Chinese word for harmony. It's also the name of the Chinese high-speed train that crashed into another bullet train Saturday--a deadly incident that makes the name sound like an empty slogan.
The first four carriages of the moving bullet train fell from a viaduct to the ground after striking another train from behind and derailing in eastern China.

This tragedy makes real the long-held fear that China's fast-expanding rail network is vulnerable to major disasters. Even so, the terrible scene of Saturday's accident is enough to make anyone gasp in dismay.

The rear-end collision took place on a high-speed railway in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, on Saturday night, killing or injuring more than 200 people. The railway connects the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou with Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.

The disaster began to unfold when the train that had left from Beijing stalled due to a lightning strike.
The train behind then slammed into it.

The accident must be attributed to a serious safety defect in China's train operating system.

Specialists have said that China's automatic high-speed train control system may not have been properly functioning at the time of the accident.

Alarmed by the severity of the disaster, the Chinese leadership sent to the scene a commission led by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang to help out in the relief work and investigation.

Thorough measures must be taken to determine the cause of the accident.


China's prestige damaged

The latest disaster is certain to deal a heavy blow to the administration of President Hu Jintao as it seeks to sell China's bullet train system overseas, including in the United States.
Over the years, China has strived to develop the system, which it hopes will boost national pride.

Somewhat more than four years have passed since Chinese high-speed trains were put into service.

The country's rapid railway network has greatly expanded in that time, with its active lines exceeding 8,000 kilometers today--several times more extensive than Japan's Shinkansen network.

China reportedly hopes to extend the network to 16,000 kilometers by the end of 2020.

However, it should be noted that China's success in this respect is a result of crash construction work intended to add an extra touch of glory to such occasions as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 Shanghai Expo and the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party's foundation in early July.

There is no denying that the rushed work has been made possible by slighting the safety of the high-speed railway system.


Corroded by corruption

China's 10 trillion yen bullet train network project has been fraught with corruption.

In February, Railways Minister Liu Zhijun was arrested on suspicion of accepting large bribes from corporations tied to the project over the years.
He was dismissed from the post.

While in office, Liu issued a directive that bullet trains should run along the Beijing-Shanghai route at 350 kph, hoping to make his country's high-speed railway the world's fastest. His successor rescinded the policy and decided to set the maximum speed at 300 kph for safety's sake.

Passengers on China's high-speed railway network include foreign residents in that country, tourists and businesspeople from overseas.

The seriousness of the latest accident must be taken to heart by the Chinese government.
Beijing must carry out thorough safety inspections on all aspects of its bullet train network, from its rolling stock to its operational routines.

China has said the trains operated on the Beijing-Shanghai route were modeled on the Tohoku Shinkansen's Hayate, a bullet train built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., but has also insisted they were developed into a new creation contrived through China's own technology.
Beijing has also filed application for a patent on its bullet train overseas.

However, Saturday's accident is bound to adversely affect China's bullet train export drive.

It has been 47 years since Japan's Shinkansen was put into service.
The history of this nation's bullet train network is marked by a glorious record--not one passenger has been killed in a Shinkansen accident.

We hope people associated with the Shinkansen network will not relax their efforts to maintain the safety of the system and continue to implement thoroughgoing measures to achieve the goal.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 25, 2011)
(2011年7月25日01時11分  読売新聞)


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