Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fly Ash Woes for China's High Speed Rail

Construction of the mainland's massive high-speed rail network is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.
The breakneck speed at which track is being laid means engineers are likely to have to sacrifice quality for quantity on the lines' foundations which could ultimately halve their lifespan.
The problem lies in the use of high-quality fly ash, a fine powder chemically identical to volcanic ash, collected from the chimneys of coal-fired power plants. When mixed with cement and gravel, it can give the tracks' concrete base a lifespan of 100 years....
The use of low-quality fly ash would threaten the safety of rail passengers and "judgment day" might come sooner than expected, [researcher] Zhu said.
"Quality problems with Chinese high-speed railways will arise in five years," he said. "I'm not talking about small problems, but big problems. Small problems such as occasional cracks and slips that delay trains for hours have already occurred. Big problems that will postpone an entire line for days, if not weeks, will come soon.
"When that happens, the miracle of Chinese high-speed rail will be reduced to dust."

From South China News.

This might help explain why the China's rail chief was fired last week on corruption charges.