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Qinghai-Tibet Railway Accident Reports Dismissed
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Amidst foreign media reports that over 10 serious incidents concerning the Qinghai-Tibet Railway were covered up, an official from the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company dismissed these as groundless.

Vice General Manager Zhu Huaxin said on June 28, "Over the past year, the railway has always put safety, punctuality and passenger comfort front and center given the extreme plateau conditions."

A train runs on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway on Lhasa River Bridge.

The railway crosses over 550-km of frozen tundra on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Combined with being the highest railway in the world and the prolonged periods it must endure as it crosses inhospitable surroundings, safety has been a major issue for the railway's staff.

Zhu explained that by overcoming various difficulties and challenges including frozen soil, protecting the environment and guaranteeing medical safety through innovation and skill, the railway had successfully navigated its first year of operation.

The plateau's permafrost created a specific set of threats to track stability, explained Zhu, adding that during the construction, experts had established measures that prevented the soil from thawing and being unstable.

He revealed that certain roadbeds had cracked, along with a few concrete structures and bridges, in August last year, but that these had been swiftly repaired by the Ministry of Railways.

Over the year, a long-term observation system was set up in the frozen soil areas to report on the permafrost. "The roadbeds in this section are gradually becoming stable, and the soil has withstood the test of both summer and winter," Zhu said.

Currently, the Golmud-Lhasa and the Xining-Golmud sections have performed excellently, achieving a service reliability ratio of 99.6 percent and 92.1 percent respectively.

"There was only one restaurant car derailment, but it was an equipment problem and was handled properly," said Zhu of the only incident he addressed.

Qinghai Province was the first nationwide to pass legislation concerning railway meteorology safety which will help defend against meteorological disasters, especially given the line's high automation level. Furthermore, the province's wide-ranging information monitoring management network and video monitoring system are further shields against harm or damage.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway Co. also maintained teams on a constant state of readiness and is thoroughly training staff in all necessary areas. It is also pushing for reform and consolidation on equipment quality, protection facilities, construction organization, railway material management, and employees' working practices. Local governments whose jurisdiction the line traverses have also upheld the law by combating criminal activities such as attacking trains with stones and stealing railway equipment.

In closing, a three-level medical service system covers the entire line, said Zhu. This encompasses field medical facilities, and a mobile medical system, backed up by hospitals.

July 1, 2007 marks the first anniversary of the line's opening to traffic.

(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong, July 2, 2007)

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