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High-speed-rail issues spur overhaul in China

China has placed a moratorium on new railway projects and halted some bullet train manufacturing, stepping up an overhaul of its controversial high-speed network after a July collision that killed 40 people.

The crash, along with delays on a new Beijing-Shanghai line blamed on equipment failures, embarrassed the communist government and fueled public anger about a bullet train network that critics say is dangerous and too costly.

The railway minister announced the moratorium Wednesday and promised a nationwide safety inspection. He also announced further reductions in the top speed of bullet trains following reductions made in April.

"This accident exposed the weaknesses lying in the railway transportation safety and management," said Sheng Guangzu.

The announcement adds to signs that Beijing is scaling back plans for expanding the high-speed network to 8,000 miles of track by the end of this year and 10,000 miles by 2020.

The system is a prestige project for the Communist Party and is meant to showcase China's growing technological prowess. But the July 23 crash made it a target for complaints about the human cost of recklessly fast development.

Meanwhile, a state-owned manufacturer said it will suspend production of trains used on the Beijing-Shanghai line while it investigates equipment failures. China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Ltd. gave no details, but the official Xinhua News Agency said trains "abnormally stopped" three times due to faulty sensor signals.

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