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Friday, August 12, 2011

BULLET TRAINS: China’s enthusiasm for high-speed rail stalls!

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By Associated Press / / Friday, August 12, 2011 - Added 2 hours ago.

A train technician waves as he...

Those changes solve immediate problems but fail to get at "deeper trouble," Zhao said.

"I don’t see any signs that the government is doing anything to expand this overhaul to other areas or even reshape its development pattern," he said.

In nuclear power, Beijing’s rapid expansion of its industry, both to curb reliance on fossil fuels and to support development of Chinese equipment manufacturers, has prompted similar warnings that it is moving too fast and might jeopardize public safety.

China has 13 nuclear reactors and 28 more under construction, which critics say is causing a shortage of qualified technicians and equipment.

An official of an industry group was quoted by state media in March as saying the Communist Party’s latest five-year plan shifts from "energetic development" to "safe and highly efficient development," but the government has yet to release details.

Support for the bullet train began to erode in February after its main official booster, then-railway minister Liu Zhijun, was dismissed amid a graft probe.

State media, normally cheerleaders for the government, have begun reporting on the bullet train’s excesses in a sign that official sentiment is turning against it.

On Friday, state broadcaster China Central Television showed scenes of an apartment complex in the eastern province of Anhui over which a bullet train viaduct was built on huge concrete pillars. Residents were shown complaining about the noise of passing trains and damage to property values.

China has 13 high-speed railways in operation, with 26 under construction and 23 more planned. Earlier plans called for expanding the network to 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) of track by 2020, though their current status is unclear.

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