China raises bullet train speed 6 years after crash

China has raised the maximum speed of bullet trains on the Beijing-Shanghai line to 350kmh, up from 300kmh.
China has raised the maximum speed of bullet trains on the Beijing-Shanghai line to 350kmh, up from 300kmh.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Thursday (Sept 21) increased the maximum speed of bullet trains on the Beijing-Shanghai line to 350kmh, six years after a fatal accident led to a speed cap.

The speed limit had been reduced to 300kmh after 40 people died in a high-speed train crash near Wenzhou in July 2011.

The acceleration cuts the 1,318km Beijing-Shanghai journey to four hours and 28 minutes, saving passengers nearly an hour.

Starting on Thursday, a total of 14 trains were running between Beijing and Shanghai at the higher speed daily, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"These trains are so popular that the tickets for today already sold out a week ago," Xinhua quoted Huang Xin, an official with the China Railway Corporation, as saying.

The connection between the two metropolises is one of the country's busiest, carrying more than 100 million passengers a year.

China's high-speed rail network is the largest in the world, and seen by Beijing as a symbol of the country's advance.

But the expansion - which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars - has seen a series of scandals and widespread allegations of corruption, with accusations that safety has been compromised for speed.

In 2013, former railway minister Liu Zhijun was given a suspended death sentence for taking 64.6 million yuan (S$12.9 million) in bribes. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.