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Recalled bullet trains ready to get back on track

BULLET trains which were recalled following a series of breakdowns have now all been declared ready for use on China's high-speed routes, including the Shanghai-Beijing line, the Ministry of Railways said yesterday.

In August, 54 CRH380BL trains were recalled after frequent malfunctions. The problems resulted in massive delays and service cancellations and sparked a surge of complaints from passengers.

At the time, CNR, the country's leading train manufacturer, said thorough checks would be conducted on all the trains to see whether they needed to be overhauled. They wouldn't be returned until operational safety was guaranteed, it said.

The ministry said engineers and an independent panel had completed tests on the trains and certified they were mechanically sound.

Nearly a quarter of the daily train capacity on the Shanghai-Beijing express route was cut on August 16 when the trains were recalled.

At about the same time, the state railway authority lowered speed limits for all bullet train services due to safety concerns, reducing the maximum speed by 40 to 50 kilometers per hour, depending on routes. The top speed on the Shanghai-Hangzhou bullet train line, for example, was lowered from 350 to 300kph.

Railway officials said the reintroduction of the CRH380BL trains would boost transport capacity with more services and shorter intervals between trains.

They said the additional trains would allow them to streamline timetables and the express railway routes would start using renewed schedules from December 12.

An investigation found that about 70 percent of malfunctions on the trains could be blamed on sub-contractors supplying sub-standard parts. In the remaining cases, technicians failed to take proper action when small problems occurred, allowing them to escalate.

Lax quality control by the producer was also a major cause of the problems.

The safety of the country's bullet trains became a major concern following the Wenzhou two-tr! ain cras h in July which left 40 people dead and around 200 others injured.


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