Rail construction probe

19 March 2008

China's Ministry of Railways is investigating a newspaper report that claims fake materials have been used in the construction of the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed passenger railway. The China Economic Times reports “large quantities of fake fly ash”, as part of the s project's concrete supply, had been used along hundreds of kilometres of the CNY 93 billion (US$ 12.2 billion) line.

The report said contractors were “tricked” into buying the fake material and had “used it widely”, putting the safety of passengers using the railway, with trains travelling at up to 350 km per hour, at risk.

The China Economic Times report states use of the fake fly ash was only s discovered in March, after a blockage occurred in a concrete pumping station's delivery pipe, by an engineer named only as Zhang. Because of the “small” need for fly ash the railway corporation was reported as saying it did not invite bids from suppliers as it had for other construction materials.

Instead, it allowed the contractors to source their own suppliers.

However, in May, as demand for fly ash began to rise in a bid to keep pace with the construction schedule, fake products found their way on to the market. An un-named official with the Ministry of Railways told China Daily an initial investigation suggested the report had exaggerated some facts, such as the reference to the wide use of the fake materials.

At present the Ministry has refused to make an official statement until an investigation is completed, said the source. The Wuhan-Guangzhou Railway Corporation is also understood to have started its own investigation.

Neither the Ministry of Railways or the Wuhan-Guangzhou Railway Corporation were available for comment at the time of going to press.

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