China Slows Down Bullet Trains Because They're Unsafe

When China built their network of bullet trains nearly as fast as the trains themselves move, the quick turnaround time didn't come with many safety checks, it seems. Those trains are struggling to operate at their promised speeds.

According to the Washington Post, Chinese officials are slowing trains down to help solve safety issues:

Last week, the new leadership at the Railways Ministry announced that to enhance safety, the top speed of all trains was being decreased from about 218 mph to 186. Without elaborating, the ministry called the safety situation "severe" and said it was launching safety checks along the entire network of tracks.

The cause of those safety issues? Shoddy workmanship and allegations of corruption.

In March, government auditors found several problems with the construction of the Beijing-to-Shanghai line, including fake invoices that more than a dozen companies used for construction materials and supervisors at some construction companies who lacked professional engineering licenses.

The revelations have led to questions about safety and whether corrupt subcontractors cut corners to line their pockets.

Train line construction requires the use of high-quality fly ash in the concrete. Chinese media reported allegations that some contractors might have used lower-quality ash that had been mixed with other substances.

To move at the speeds that China would like its trains to operate at, the rails must be remarkably straight. They also must be made with quality materials, since the railing will wear out faster than on a slower railway. Couple this with the massive debt incurred to build the railway, the high price to ride and the lack of people riding as a result, and it looks like China's bullet train system is in serious trouble. [WaPo]