Chinese bullet train manufacturer issues recall, puts expansion of high-speed rail on hold.

As a proponent of improved and increased rail service in this country, I’m a little disappointed to hear that the large manufacturer of these trains in China is having such quality troubles that they’re issuing a recall:

A Chinese bullet train manufacturer announced a recall Friday of 54 trains in the latest embarrassment for a problem-plagued prestige project following a July crash that killed 40 people.

The recall adds to growing signs official attitudes toward the bullet train are shifting and Beijing might scale back its rapid expansion of the high speed rail network. A moratorium on new rail projects was imposed this week and the government announced a reduction in train speeds.

The recall applies to model CRH380BL trains used on the new Beijing-Shanghai line, which has suffered repeated delays blamed on equipment failures, state-owned China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Ltd. said in a statement through the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Now, the company isn’t saying that the fatal accident mentioned is the cause of the recall, but they sure aren’t not saying it, either. That’s too bad, really, because I’d certainly like to see advances in rail travel proceed nicely. Of course, I’d rather see it here in the US. The issue here isn’t a lack of will or ingenuity, it’s competing technologies and a “cost of entry” situation. The United States as an interstate highway system second to none in the world. We have an air travel network that’s ubiquitous and, again, second to none in the world. Our rail system hasn’t seen anything but a decline and degradation over the past 100 years and until it’s both easier from a regulatory standpoint and profitable, it’s not going to change.

If there are any transportation readers out there or rail engineers/operators, I’d love to hear what your take is on what it would take to get our rail system back to the point were people can actually travel point-to-point as quickly as we did in the 1930’s. Suggestions that we raise taxes and create a Rail Department or the like will be heard in their entirety but don’t count on a supportive response.

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