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California lawmakers travel to China to study high-speed rail

August 1, 2011 | 12:43 pm

A group of state lawmakers has flown to China to see if California can learn anything from that country about building a high-speed rail system.

But the lesson may be about what not to do: the state senators are arriving in a country mourning an accident last month in which two Chinese bullet trains collided, killing at least 39 people and injuring 200.

The delegation includes Democrats Kevin De Leon of Los Angeles, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Lou Correa of Santa Ana and is being paid for by the Chinese Ministry of Railways.

The July 23 accident has raised questions about the safety of the Chinese high-speed rail system, with the Shanghai Railway Bureau finding that  "design flaws" in the track's signaling equipment contributed to the accident.

The senators were invited by the Chinese ministry, which is paying for travel expenses and providing a demonstration "related to high-speed rail technology, stations, engineering and manufacturing,’’ De Leon’s office said.

Calderon has supported the proposal to build a high-speed rail system in California because of the jobs it would create, said spokesman Rocky Rushing.

He noted that a Chinese rail authority has signed agreements with some U.S. companies to collaborate on technology they hope will be used on California’s proposed system.

"Given this interest by the Chinese in California’s high-speed railway project, the opportunity to meet and engage Chinese rail officials and engineers is timely and beneficial to our efforts here in California,’’ Rushing said. "This is made even more true in light of the recent deadly high-speed rail crash and other problems and challenges the system has faced.’’

-- Patrick McGreevy

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