March 12, 2012 / 4:15 AM / 8 years ago

Heavy rain, possible poor construction, cause China rail collapse-media

BEIJING, March 12 (Reuters) - In the latest trouble to hit China’s beleaguered railways, workers are scrambling to repair a new high-speed track that collapsed in central China due to heavy rain and possibly poor construction, said local media.

China’s railways ministry has been plagued by scandals and missteps. A July 2011 crash of a high-speed train killed 40 people and raised concerns about the safety of the fast-growing network and threatened plans to export high-speed technology.

Heavy rain last Friday collapsed a section of a 291 kms (180 mile) high-speed rail link in central China, set to open in May, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday, citing local authorities.

There were no reports of any injuries from the collapsed track, said Xinhua. The railway in Hubei province will eventually link the provincial capital Wuhan and Yichang city.

Time-Weekly, a semi-official newspaper, in early March cited a whistle-blower, Ni Hongjun, saying that he had tried to warn the railways ministry in 2010 that the Wuhan-Yichang rail link was at risk from heavy rain.

He said the construction company building the high-speed railway was using earth instead of gravel and that earth can be softened when heavy rains occur, leaving the railway “facing a major security risk”.

China’s cabinet criticised the railways ministry last December for lax safety standards and poor handling of the July 2010 crash, but said it remained committed to high-speed rail.

Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Michael Perry

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