Chinese Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun assured the general public in Beijing on Wednesday that safety would not be sacrificed when railway system speeds are boosted in April.
Liu told an annual work conference that beginning April 18, trains on lines such as Beijing-Harbin, Beijing-Shanghai, Beijing-Guangzhou, Guangzhou-Shenzhen and Jinan-Qingdao will travel at speeds of 200 km per hour, with certain sections reaching 250 km per hour.
Preparation work for the speed boost -- including safety tests, improvement of technical guarantee systems and staff training -- has been finished, he said.
More than 100 special test runs and four large-scale safety tests have been launched, with more than 50 technical breakthroughs achieved, Liu added. "Scientific research and test run results have proved that it is possible, safe and economical for China's trains to run at a speed of 200 km per hour or above," Liu said.
China started to gear up for its sixth speed boost four years ago. Currently, most trains travel at around 160 km per hour. But speeds of 200 kilometers per hour are only possible on 6,003 kilometers of track, less than 10 percent of the country's total 75,000-kilometers of railway.
The ministry hopes the higher speeds will help solve bottlenecks in the railways.
(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2007)