China to export first light rail train to Turkey

(Reuters) – China will soon send its first shipment of domestically produced light rail trains to Turkey, state media said on Sunday, even as a deadly high-speed train crash in late July threatens to undermine the country’s plans to export its train technology.

The light rail trains, manufactured by China’s CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co., Ltd. will go into service in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily said. They will roll off assembly lines this week, it added.

The paper quoted Xu Zongxiang, the company’s general manager, as saying that the company sees the Turkish light rail project as its first step into the European market, and it is confident that it will be able to provide high-tech railway technologies and services to other countries and regions.

CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd is a unit of the Hong Kong-listed CSR Corporation Limited.

The news comes just two days after China’s second-biggest train maker said it would recall 54 bullet trains used on the new showcase Beijing-Shanghai line for safety reasons, dealing a fresh blow to the nation’s scandal-plagued rail system.

The recall of the trains by China CNR Corp Ltd comes three weeks after 40 people were killed in a high-speed rail crash that triggered public fury, unusually bold media coverage and a freeze on approvals for new railway projects.

China’s high-speed rail drive was until recently held up by senior government officials as a trophy of the nation’s technological prowess. Now it has become a political albatross, drawing scorn from many citizens long frustrated with the hulking railways ministry.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Alex Richardson)