<HTML><HEAD> <META name=GENERATOR content="MSHTML 8.00.6001.19019"></HEAD> <BODY> <H1 class="cN-headingPage prepend-5 span-11 last">Bullet train to run more like arrow </H1> <DIV class="push-0 span-11 last"><!-- cT-storyDetails --> <DIV class="cT-storyDetails cfix"> <H5>Ian Johnson </H5><CITE>June 15, 2011</CITE> <UL></UL></DIV> <DIV id=googleAds class="ad adSpot-textBox"></DIV><BOD> <DIV class=articleBody><!-- cT-imageLandscape --> <DIV class=cT-imageLandscape><IMG alt="Slowing down ... questions over safety of China's bullet trains prompts a reduction of travelling speed." src="ctsipad-art-wide-china-train-420x0.jpg"> <P>Slowing down ... questions over safety of China's bullet trains prompts a reduction of travelling speed. <EM>Photo: Bloomberg</EM></P></DIV> <P>BEIJING: China's troubled Railway Ministry has lowered the top operating speed for its flagship Beijing-to-Shanghai bullet train, which is scheduled to begin service this month.</P> <P>In a marked scaling down of what is supposed to be a pinnacle of a transformed rail system that has become one of the country's proudest and most ambitious domestic initiatives, the new line, once set to run at up to 380km/h, will instead run trains at 300km/h and 250km/h, the ministry announced. </P> <P>That puts the line at the same speeds that the ministry had announced in February for eight other trunk lines on the network, which is still being built. Those trunk lines originally were set to run at a top speed of 350km/h, slightly slower than the Beijing-to-Shanghai route. </P> <P>The reduced speeds stem from sweeping changes the ministry has made since the rails minister, Liu Zhijun, was fired on corruption and mismanagement charges in February. Some critics had accused Mr Liu of building a high-speed railway empire that was too costly for average passengers; a network marred by shoddy, quick construction that, at a minimum, might require lower speeds. </P> <P>The ministry's new leaders sent safety inspectors to examine the Beijing-to-Shanghai line, and this month pronounced it safe for use.</P> <P>However, in recent days the Railway Ministry and rail security officials warned that China's high-speed lines face other hazards, from inadequately secured tracks to mines built near the lines, that pose potentially serious risks.</P> <P>A deputy minister, Hu Yadong, said on Monday that the trains could run at the higher speeds, but the reductions would make it easier for more traditional, more affordable trains to operate, saving on maintenance and power. </P> <P>The new line will halve the 10-hour rail trip between the two cities, but even the cheapest ticket costs about a month's wages for an average resident of rural China.</P> <P>In the past few months, some foreign companies that sold China its high-speed technology said the trains were not designed to operate at such high speeds.</P> <P>The ministry said Chinese engineers had improved on the technology and the trains were safe at higher speeds. </P> <P><B>The New York Times </B></P></DIV></BOD></DIV></BODY></HTML>