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Chinese former railway minister among those blamed for bullet train crash

Design flaws and sloppy management caused crash in which 40 people were killed, according to government report.

Passengers board a bullet train at Nanjing railway station
Passengers board a bullet train at Nanjing railway station. Photograph: China Photos/Getty Images

The Guardian reports that a long-awaited government report has said design flaws and sloppy management caused a bullet train crash in July that killed 40 people and triggered a public outcry over the high cost and dangers of China's showcase transportation system. A former railway minister was among 54 officials found responsible for the crash, a cabinet statement said on Wednesday.

The crash report was highly anticipated by the public. Regulations required the government to release the report by 20 November. When that date passed, the government offered little explanation, drawing renewed criticism by state media, which have been unusually sceptical about the handling of the accident and the investigation. The cabinet statement cited "serious design flaws and major safety risks" and what it said were a string of errors in equipment procurement and management.

The report affirmed earlier government statements that a lightning strike caused one bullet train to stall and a sensor failure allowed a second train to keep moving on the same track and slam into it.

Among those singled out for blame was former minister of railways Liu Zhijun, who was the public face of efforts to build the bullet train and was detained in February amid a graft investigation. The cabinet also cited the general manager of the company that manufactured the signal, who died of a heart attack while talking to investigators in August.

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