China's New-Age Bullet Trains Struggle With Power Failures

BEIJING (AP) — China's showcase bullet trains linking Beijing and Shanghai were stopped by power failures for a second time Tuesday, less than two weeks after they launched.

An announcement from the Railways Ministry said there was a power failure near the eastern city of Suzhou, "causing some train delays." It did not say what caused the failure. It said the fault was fixed two hours later and service resumed.

High-speed rail is one of China's highest profile infrastructure projects — on a par with its space program — meant to showcase the country's growing economic and technological prowess, but it has been criticized by some working in the industry who say the achievements are mainly based on foreign know how.

Official plans call for the bullet train network to expand to 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) of track this year and 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) by 2020.

Tuesday's incident was the second time in three days that the 819-mile (1,318-kilometer) railway from Beijing to Shanghai has suffered a power failure and brought trains to a halt.

On Sunday, a lightning strike caused power to fail, said an official surnamed Yang at Beijing Railway Station's press office. She said Sunday's incident was the first time the line had suffered a power outage since it opened. Yang only gave her surname as is common with some Chinese officials.

The Beijing-Shanghai line was opened to great fanfare on June 30, the eve of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party.

The top operational speed for the line's trains is 186 miles per hour (300 kilometers per hour). The speed was cut from the originally planned 217 mph (350 kph) after questions were raised about safety.