More on China’s July 2011 Rail Accident

July 27, 2011

Passport, a Blog by the editors of Foreign Policy Magazine ran, “You think this weekend’s Chinese train crash was bad? It’s nothing compared to India’s deadly rails.”

Passport reported, “India has one of the largest railway systems in the world, carrying about 19 million passengers every day on about 7,000 trains. It’s called the ‘lifeline to the nation’, Unfortunately, that often means trains are jam packed.”

It’s worth visiting Passport for the photos to see how crowded India’s trains get.

Then a friend, the author of East of Indus, about life in the Old Punjab, sent an e-mail that said, “Accidents can occur, but Chinese technology is as advanced as anywhere in the world. India’s development is not nowhere near that level; accidents with multiple deaths are a way of life in India and don’t shock too many people there.”

At this point, I asked myself what the ratio of deaths and injured were compared to the total number of people travelling by rail in India, China and the United States.  After that, I spent several hours hunting for statistics, and finding facts for the United States was not easy.

What I discovered was, “China had 876.22 billion passenger kilometers in 2010; India had 838.03 billion passenger kilometers in 2009, and the United states had 17.21 billion passenger kilometers in 2008.

The United States has the largest railroad system in the world with 226,427 kilometers of rail (2007). China is third place with 91,000 kilometers (2010) and India is fourth with 64,215 kilometers (2011).

Then I found these statistics for the United States from an American government source.

In 1990, there were 599 fatalities and 22,736 injured in rail accidents.

In 2005, there were 525 fatalities and 10,424 injured.

In 2008, there were 514 fatalities and 7,993 injured.

In 2009, there were 458 fatalities and 7,103 injured. (Note: these numbers are much higher than the source I found for High Speed Rail Tragedy in China Reveals Small Minds in the West and may include light commuter rail). Source: RITA Bureau of Transportation Statistics

For China in 1990, no rail accidents were listed, while India had seventy killed.

For China in 2005, there were five killed, while India had 122 killed and many injured.

For China in 2008, there was seventy-two killed and 416 injured, while India had no fatalities or injuries reported.

For China in 2009, seven were killed and 280 injured, while in India thirty-two were killed and 280 injured.

Source: List of Rail Accidents (Wiki) Note: I suspect this source gets most of its information from the major media reporting on rail accidents.

In the United States for 1990, 2005, 2008 and 2009 (combined), there were about 30.3 deaths for every billion passenger kilometers traveled. In addition, according to Parilman & Associates, a National Law firm that specializes in rail accidents, “Every ninety minute (in the United States) there is a train derailment or collision.”

For every billion passenger kilometers traveled in China for the same four years, there were .02 deaths.

For every billion passenger kilometers traveled in India, there were .07 deaths.

The death rate in America was 1,515 times higher than China for each billion passenger kilometers traveled.

In addition, delays are common on long-distance Amtrak routes in the United States. This is because private railroads own the tracks used by Amtrak, and are more concerned about their own freight trains than about Amtrak’s passenger trains. Average delays vary considerably among routes. However, as of 2008, Amtrak has increased its efforts and most trains arrive on time well over 50% of the time.

Note: As a journalist, I am aware that the media does not always report on types of accidents or tragedies that happen often. However, the media does report on rare accidents and tragedies such as an airplane crash.  For this reason, it is possible that rail accidents are so common in the United States, the media does not bother to report most of them unless it is really horrendous, which leaves the public ignorant of how unsafe America’s rails are.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

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High Speed Rail Tragedy in China Reveals Small Minds in the West

July 25, 2011

If you suspect China is under a biased Western microscope being watched for every hiccup, the answer is “absolutely” yes and the evidence is overwhelming, while most of the world – especially the United States – is often ignored for the same sins and flaws.

On Saturday, July 23, 2011, China had its first railroad accident of the year, and it was reported globally with much criticism.

The Los Angeles Times shouts, “Deadly Chinese bullet train crash spawns anger, safety concerns”, and then reports that at least 43 people were killed and at least 200 injured.

The LA Times only had a few comments from readers and all that I read were insulting and negative of China.

MSNBC’s headline said, 32 die in China high-speed train crash and reported, “The total power failure rendered useless an electronic safety system designed to warn following trains of stalled trains on the tracks up ahead, and automatically halt them before a collision can occur.”

Comments such as this one followed the piece in MSNBC, “Anytime the Chinese get hosed by their own doing I just can’t feel bad for them… Better them than anyone else getting screwed by their quality control and reverse engineering.”

However, to be fair to MSNBC’s audience, there were many comments attacking ones such as the example I copied.  It was a lively debate worth reading.

Yahoo News was much more critical of China than MSNBC by focusing on safety and previous train wrecks in China dredging up as much dirt as possible.

One comment of many said, “the traffic safety in china is a joke. a very big joke. they don’t care about people, they care about face, they only interested in propaganda and fighting the big imperialist empire. they struggle to show the communism is working. guess what, is not working. so next time when you reverse engineering something do it completely. ever heard of Line blocks ? and throw the CTCS down the toilet and flush. twice.”

What causes such cruel and often evil reactions such as these from the Western media and readers?

Is it resentment because China is fast catching up to the United States as a global economic superpower?

Is it ethnic/racial hate because they are Chinese?

Is it envy because the quality of life is improving in China while life in the West is crumbling and burdened by debt?

Is it because they have a government run by China’s Communist Party?

One example of the “always beat up China” syndrome is a flawed and misleading opinion piece written by Charles Lane for The Washington Post.

Charles Lane wrote, “China’s bullet-train experience shows what can go wrong when an unelected elite, influenced by corrupt opportunists, gives orders that all must follow — without the robust public discussion we would have in the states.”

I wonder if Lane would include the “robust public discussion” we had in the states leading up to the 2008 global financial crises caused by American and Western greed and corruption.

I wanted to put Charles Lane’s Washington Post opinion to the test and I Googled the “history of global train wrecks” and found a detailed history going back to the early 19th century.

To save time and space, I decided to compare rail accidents starting from 2007 for only two of the world’s largest democracies and China.

It should be mentioned that both India and China rely on trains to move people much more than the United States, so we should expect more injuries and deaths from rail accidents in those countries. For that reason, I will compare the number of rail accidents to see which country has the best safety record.

The lowest score wins.

In 2007, there were thirty-three rail accidents listed for the world, and the United States had nine (27% of the total) killing seven and injuring more than a hundred, while India had three accidents killing 80 and injuring twelve.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had two rail accidents killing four and injuring two.

Score: United States 9, India 3 and China 2

In 2008, there were thirty-four rail accidents listed for the world, and the United States had eight (24%) with twenty-nine deaths and almost 300 injured, while India had one rail accident with no deaths or injured listed.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had one rail accident killing seventy-two and injuring 416.

Score: United States 17, India 4 and China 3

In 2009, there were thirty-nine rail accidents listed for the world, and the united States had seven (18%) with seventeen killed and five injured, while India had four accidents with thirty-two killed and 280 injured.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had two rail accidents killing seven and injuring 280.

Score: United States 24, India 8 and China 5

In 2010, there were fifty rail accidents listed for the world, and the United States had three (6%) with 32 injured, while India had fourteen rail accidents with hundreds killed and injured.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had one rail accident killing nineteen and injuring 71.

Score: United States 27, India 22 and China 6

This year by July 23, 2011, twenty-one train accidents were listed for the world, and the United States had eight (35%) killing eleven and injuring eighteen, while India had five accidents killing seventy-one and injuring two.

China (ruled by what Charles Lane calls the unelected elite) had one rail accident with at least 35 dead and 200 injured.

Score: United States 35, India 27 and China 7

From 2007 to July 23, 2011, the world had 177 rail accidents. The United States had 20% of the total, India 15% and China 4%. Source: List of Rail Accidents (Wiki)

When I Googled “train accident in China 2011” there were 55 million hits. It seems that popular “bad news” about China spreads fast and then the Western blame game begins, which represents Charles Lane’s “robust public discussion” in a democracy.

A few more interesting facts  to know before judging China’s rail system is that the average number of people traveling daily by train in China is 2.4 million, and in 2008, 1.456 billion people travelled 772.8 billion kilometers by rail.

I’d say with confidence that the odds are very good that if you travel by rail in China, you will reach your destination on time and without an accident.

A follow up post appeared two days later as More on China’s July 2011 Rail Accident and/or discover more of Really Fast Trains in and from China or China On the Fast Track

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Going Faster in China

December 4, 2010

In April 2010, Al Jazeera English reported on China’s high-speed rail growth, which will cost an estimated 300 billion dollars to build.

This latest generation of trains will crisscross the country at speeds up to 400 kilometers or 248 miles an hour.

China expects this infrastructure project to sustain economic growth.

Originally, plans for high-speed rail were in the future. However, faced with about 15 million job losses due to the 2008 global economic crises caused by US banks and Wall Street greed, China put six-million people back to work in 2009 by speeding up this project.

High-speed rail is a large component of China’s stimulus package.

Today, China has the world’s busiest rail network.

However, according to the World Bank if we measure kilometers of rail line per one million people, China’s rail network is not the size it should be to sustain growth.

With room to grow, China’s transport ministry set a goal to add 16,000 kilometers (almost ten thousand miles) of track to be built by 2012.

However, for most of China’s population, the cost of high-speed rail may be too high and some rural villages will have to be relocated to make room, which is a result of change.

Although some economists have concerns about the level and pace of infrastructure development in China, it is obvious that China is planning far into the future and not waiting for the future to arrive first.

In fact, China plans to have the largest high-speed rail network in the world within five years.

As economic conditions improve in rural China, more people may be able to buy tickets to ride fast trains.  However, buying a ticket to fly may still be out of reach for most rural people.

China is also improving air travel. Short News from Flanders China Chamber of Commerce says, “In the next ten years China will add 90 new airports tripling the size of China’s small-sized jet passenger fleet from 500 to almost 1,600 by 2030.

Discover more at Speed on Rails and the Three Gorges Dam Makes News

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Really Fast Trains in and from China

August 13, 2010

Devin Coldewey at Crunch Gear writes about plans for future-trains in China that may run at speeds of 1000 kilometers or 620 miles an hour.

China is looking into increasing speeds for longer distances by using maglev trains without air resistance by building vacuum-sealed tunnels. Today’s maglev trains with air resistance are capable of hitting speeds of about 500 km/h.

Darren Murph at engadget.com also wrote about these super-fast trains.  Darren mentions that China says they will have maglev trains ready in three years.  In fact, they have one now outside Shanghai. I have ridden the maglev train that runs from Pudong Airport to Shanghai. It seldom hits its top speed for the short trip, but it is smooth and fast—a few minutes compared to more than forty in a taxi or bus.

To reach speeds of 1000 km/h means more money. Each kilometer to build these vacuum tubes will cost an extra $2.95 million American. I have a question. What happens if the vacuum tube springs a leak?

Darren ends with “Pony up, taxpayers!”, but that’s not how the Chinese raise money.  Most money in China comes from the profits of state-run banks, industries and duties on imports and exports not on income or property, although that may be changing as China studies how the US government raises money.

China is also planning to build high-speed rail from Beijing to London. Source: The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller

See China On the Fast Track

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


One Party Advantage

April 4, 2010

The West’s loudest criticisms of China are a one party system, limited religious freedom and government censorship. Is it possible that these same things are also China’s strengths?

President of China, Hu Jintao

Clean water, air and plentiful, healthy food are precious. China’s one-party system ruled by scientists and engineers excels at solving these challenges. Instead of becoming embroiled in partisanship battles over political and religious differences, as in the United States, China is moving ahead to clean up their environment with no “Tea Bag People” or opposition claiming global warming is not caused by carbon emissions.

China has already become the leader in solar power and wind turbine technology. Now, in the last few years, China has emerged as an early leader in adopting “clean coal” technologies. The next industry China is poised to dominate is high-speed rail with plans to add more at home while considering a line from Beijing to London.

The motivation behind this sudden awareness to the dangers of pollution is because China’s government, with a cultural foundation in Confucianism, must meet the needs of the people or be swept from power. Even if a few complain and suffer, the needs of the many must come first.

Discover Hitting Endless Homeruns

 

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Hitting Endless Home Runs

March 15, 2010

First home run—China is becoming the world leader in green energy. You may read about it in China Going Green.

Second home run—Although America has ample supplies of rare earth elements (in the ground) needed for high-tech products, China is the only country processing these elements. The cost to build a processing plant in the United States runs between 500 million and one billion. Source: Holding a Vital Key to Humanity’s Future

“U.S. Rare Earths’ Chief Executive Officer Edward Cowle explained that rare earth elements have become increasingly common in high technology equipment including:

  • computer hard drives and cellular phones
  • MRI machines
  • environmental products such as electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels
  • military weapons, including the electronic controls and electric motors used in missiles

“U.S.-based production for these important manufacturing and military applications may be in jeopardy because China currently supplies the majority of rare earth elements that are used in these applications.” Source: Technology Metals Research

High speed rail in China

Third home run—Now, using French, German and Japanese technology, China plans to bid for contracts to build high-speed rail for the U.S. market and is already exporting this technology to Europe and Latin America. The White House recently announced $8 billion in grants for rail projects including the high-speed systems in California, Florida and Illinois. Source: The Huffington Post

See China’s Fast Track Growth

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions

 


Wheezing for Profits

February 20, 2010

Thomas L. Friedman wrote in an OP-ED column for the New York Times, “China, of course, understands that (about Global warming), which is why it is investing heavily in clean-tech, efficiency and high-speed rail. It sees the future trends and is betting on them. Indeed, I suspect China is quietly laughing at us right now.”

It is obvious from Friedman’s OP-Ed piece that there is a benefit when Chinese engineers run the country instead of lawyers, accountants, corporate CEO’s with next quarter’s profits in mind, lobbyists, professional politicians and people like Rush Limbaugh, who confuses his ditto heads with bogus opinions.

If China’s engineers and scientists are laughing, it is because of the American fools that preach that carbon emissions are not the cause of global warming as if they are fighting a crusade against the infidel while ignoring all the other reasons why oil and coal are bad.

coal burning power plant - how would you like to breath this?

Let’s examine some other reasons why carbon emissions are not good and why humans should wean themselves from this dirty source of energy as quickly as possible.

1. Living near a freeway is not healthy
2. Carbon emissions and asthma
3. Dirty power from coal
4. Ocean acidification
5. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning