Chinese authorities probe railway’s reported construction issues

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese authorities are investigating a high-speed railway linking the cities of Laixi and Rongcheng in northern Shandong province, after state and local media reports alleged shoddy work and quality issues.

The length of most construction piles in partial road sections of the railway did not meet design requirements, posing a major safety hazard, according to subcontractors who reported the issue, state-backed Economic Information Daily wrote on Thursday.

The principal contractor of the railway, state-owned China Construction Eighth Engineering Division, was suspected of cutting corners when building it, the subcontractors added.

The report prompted the Shandong transport authority to set up an investigation team, according to the principal contractor, which said it was prioritizing the issue and would cooperate with the investigating team.

Separately, the Shanghai Railway Superintendent Management authority also said on Thursday it had dispatched a group to investigate.

Other managers involved in the construction said they had noticed similar quality issues, according to state media.

The below-quality construction piles might cause foundation instability and possibly result in permanent damage and safety hazards, threatening the safety of traffic, an expert was quoted as saying.

Construction of the 193 kilometre-long railway began in November 2020 and it was expected to be ready for operation by the end of October 2023, state media have reported. Investment in the project has totaled some 29.7 billion yuan ($4.2 billion).

($1 = 7.1650 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Ella Cao and Bernard Orr; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Holmes)