Alstom says China needs to 'master' rail technology

Alstom, the French engineering group falsely blamed for a metro accident in Shanghai, said Friday that China needed to "absorb and master" the new railway technology it has acquired in recent years.

China has developed its vast at breakneck speed, building the world's largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade.

But the government has been accused of overlooking safety in its rush to develop, following a high-speed rail crash that killed at least 40 people in July and a metro crash in Shanghai on Tuesday that injured nearly 300.

"The way they acquired and learned the technology in China was very fast. But then you need to absorb and to master," Dominique Pouliquen, president of Alstom , told journalists.

Alstom's Chinese joint venture, CASCO, made the signalling system used on the Shanghai metro line where this week's accident took place, which was initially blamed for the crash.

Authorities later announced that a power cut had knocked out the system entirely and that human error was to blame for the , but not before a series of highly critical articles in China's state-run newspapers and online.

"The impact for us has been tremendous," said Pouliquen of the negative publicity.

He said there were "lessons to be drawn" from the and that the company had received calls from clients in other parts of Asia concerned about their systems.

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(c) 2011 AFP

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Sep 30, 2011
A contractor did not properly ground the switching system.It was a mistake. If the French had been at every point to supervise the installation this would have been avoided. I am not sure the Chinese were willing to pay for this supervision,but thought they could use their own far cheaper engineers and contractors.

Oct 01, 2011
This vaguely reminds me of the early years of the PRC. Mao had Russian Scientists and other Specialists come in to China and teach them modern farming, industry, etc. They listened to everything the Russians said and never deviated from it. Their development grew very quicly. One thing Khrushchev said was don't attack Taiwan, because he felt it was too difficult deal with the Americans. But Mao decided to fire rockets towards Taiwan while American Navy boats were in the Taiwan Strait. After Khrushchev criticized Mao, all the Russian specialists were sent home, and Mao decided they were going to develop the country "Just by being RED" (my paraphrasing). In my opinion, this was the beginning of the end for Mao. His shortcomings as a politician became more relevant, and he would continue the rest of his days using campaign politics to hold on to power by keeping the Chinese population in a constant fervour. His talent was in war, not in politics. This nearly ruined the nation.

Oct 01, 2011
After his death, his associates (eg. Deng Xiaoping) adjusted the party stance by describing their new policy as "Socialist with Chinese Characteristics." He used a more common appeal with the motto: "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white as long as it can catch mice." (my paraphrasing). Gradually, the economy began to grow, and right now, the middle class is developing, and more people have disposable income and education, and surely will be a benefit to the continued development of the nation. The attitude I receive from them shows a noticeably limited scope of experience, but regardless of their restrictions, all seem to be eager for forward advancement. I have never heard anybody say anything about not wanting to receive something because it is "not Chinese," or other similar arguments.

Oct 01, 2011
Most seem very receptive to guidance from abroad, but there is sometimes an air of caution, which i regard as healthy. On one occasion, i had dinner with many locals, which included what i would call "a flag-waving party man." He mentioned that China can grow very fast because they can learn from America and so learn everything faster than Americans went through to discover all this. He later asked me whose military was stronger, China or America. I told him that America's military is much stronger, and cited our exceptional air power, and our extensive navy as concrete examples. He didn't like this, so I conceded that Mao was an excellent guerilla general, who had shown great prowess against the Imperialist Japanese during WWII and in supporting roles against the Americans in Korea and Vietnam. Just to make everything smooth, we played rock/paper/scissors to see who was really right about military dominance. I lost and had to drink Baijiu as a punishment. Nasty stuff, Baijiu.

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