As the series of mishaps, a major disaster and spin failures centring around China’s HSR have been forensically autopsied from every direction, including large-scale corruption and massive debt pile-up, it is time to visit the Department of Contrasting Media Imagery.
The US had a monopoly on particularly crapulous, but totally unobjectionable TV shows in the later ’50s and early 60s. There was Wagon Train, then Casey Jones (first image) and Petticoat Junction (second), all three revolving around horse and railroad themes. Light hearted entertainment for an essentially smug nation enjoying its Eisenhower, pre-Vietnam years.
Yet at the same time, there were important legacies, Clint Eastwood in Wagon Train and that great character actor Dub Taylor (Wally the Fireman in Casey Jones) who went on to feature in killer roles in The Wild Bunch and Bonny and Clyde among others.
Now lets sail the Pacific to the Celestial Kingdom and meet their versions of Casey Jones, Liu Zhijun and Zhang Shuguang.
(“China’s high-speed rail sector had been attempting feats that even pioneers of the technology, such as Japan and Germany, hadn’t dared to undertake – particularly in terms of speed.}
Liu Zhijun, the former railways minister known to industry insiders as “Mad Liu” and since dismissed from his position for “serious breaches of discipline”, had demanded that frontline staff continually to increase trial speeds. On December 3 last year, for example, the new generation CRH380AL Harmony train – which can reach a maximum speed of 486.1 kilometres an hour – was being tested on the Zaozhuang to Bangbu stretch of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line. Liu was in the cab for the trip and is said to have ordered the driver to reach and maintain the maximum speed, to the terror of a foreign engineer present, who pleaded with them to slow down.
“….There’s no question that in the next five to 10 years, China’s high speed trains will be running at speeds of over 400 kilometres per hour,” said Zhang Shuguang, formerly deputy chief engineer at the Ministry of Railways, and one of Liu’s favourites. “And in the next 20 years, we may break 500 kilometres an hour.”
Zhang even described the “magical” feeling of high-speed train travel. Ride a train moving at 350 kilometres an hour and imagine the carriage isn’t there – you’re flying at one hundred metres a second, sitting one and a half metres up in the air.”
Thanks to Zu Zongshu and Chinadialogue, and I thoroughly recommend his every paragraph.
Now, aside from the fact that our Sino-Casey Jones were imbibing public funds for private purposes before being stood down, you have to ask yourself whether they were also barking mad, crazy, demented, or any other adverbial descriptor found in the thesaurus.
Forget sound engineering principles, trial runs designed to test back-up safety procedures, iron out bugs, etc. While both sound like a pair of totally deranged CEOs with serious amphetamine problems, there are other strong>clinical possibilities such as Evel Knieval Syndrome!
Either way, both should have been restricted to meccano sets when in need of a land speed fix.
Let’s look at the geographical extent of their empire and their problematic legacy to date.
As pointed out by Dirk India Private Ltd, “High Performance Concrete requires High Performance Cementitious Material” , and China Rail has used low quality fly ash in the laying of the HSR rail lines, based on reporting by the South China Morning Post article dated 5.7 2011 by Stephen Chen.
Read the Post’s latest August 2 2011 analysis HERE in its entirety and weep.
And if you have a mechanical engineering bent and seek some historical information about this binding agent, you can visit The Fly Ash Resource Centre HERE.
Technical overload issues.
Restrict yourself to the two articles by the South China Morning Post. You will still be ahead of the game.
Living in China and having issues with shit water quality, well here are the folk to sort your problems China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research.
And who will have a hand in signing-off on the South-North Water Diversion Project. I couldn’t relocate the committee photo, but this engineer infested site is worth a few minutes, even it only for a few cynical laughs. And you know my VIEWS on engineers.
In fact, the more time I spend cruising this site, the more I am tempted to put out Interpol Alerts on the whole bunch.