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China Lowers Speed Of Bullet Trains, Suspends New Rail Projects

A railway employee stands next to a high speed train at Beijing south railway station.
Peter Parks
AFP/Getty Images
A railway employee stands next to a high speed train at Beijing south railway station.

In reaction to last month's deadly rail crash, China has decided to slow down all of its high-speed trains. Starting Sept. 1, China's fastest trains will run at 185 mph, instead of 215 mph.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Rail Minister Sheng Guangzu said China would suspend all new rail projects during the upcoming round of safety checks, the Nanfang Daily reported. This marks the first time since China began its massive railway expansion in 1997 that train speeds have been reduced across the board. At nearly 8,000 miles, China has the world's longest high-speed rail system and plans to extend it to 10,000 miles by 2020.

The deadly collision in July marked a national crisis for the government, which stood accused by millions of Internet users of mishandling the disaster.

Premier Wen Jiabao visited the site of the accident in Wenzhou late last month and pledged a transparent investigation that would satisfy the public.

The accident, last month, left 40 dead and nearly 200 injured. The decision to slow down trains and their development didn't come without resistance. UPI reports that China Daily quoted analysts saying that China "is slowing its ambitious high-speed rail program, which has put the country in the same league as Japan and Europe in terms of high-speed rail development."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.