China bullet train crash kills 40
Those clamoring inside the United States for a high-speed rail system might want to start paying attention to what’s happening in China.
Over the weekend, two Chinese high-speed rail trains collided on Saturday near Wenzhou in the coastal province of Zhejiang, killing 40 people and leaving dozens more injured. Rescue efforts are ongoing, and emergency personnel were able to save one toddler from the wreckage 21 hours after the crash.
Confidence in the high-speed rail technology is shaken inside the nation, as some Chinese travelers are saying that they’ll now avoid high-speed rail trains.
VIDEO OF THE TRAIN CRASH
“After this crash, I’m worried about safety now, and the tickets are too expensive compared to ordinary trains,” Beijing schoolteacher Zhang Jun told USA Today.
The Chinese government is moving quickly to respond to the public relations nightmare, as the country has launched an “urgent overhaul” for national rail safety. Three railway officials have been dismissed since the incident, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
“China’s high-speed rail technology is advanced,” railway ministry spokesman Wang Yongping told the China News Service. “We still have confidence.
Safety concerns prompted the Chinese government to lower its maximum speed from 216 mph to 186 mph two months ago, just as the country was looking to send high-speed trains at speeds over 300 mph.
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Earlier this month, China’s flagship bullet train line between Beijing and Shanghai experienced a series of power outages that additionally shook confidence in the transportation service.
In February, Railways Minister Liu Zhijun was fired amid allegations of corruption.
Adding to concerns is the hefty price tag high-speed rail carries, as bullet trains cost about three times as much to develop as ordinary rail. Some have argued that high-speed rail investments have yet to turn a profit in most countries and are unsafe.
“It’s a crucial time for our country to think about the ways to develop high-speed rail and trains," Zhao Jian, economics professor at Beijing’s Jiaotong University told USA Today. “We should build more ordinary railway, slow down the high-speed rail, (and) keep the systems safe.”
While high-speed rail could very well be the way we travel in the future, the problems and the deaths surrounding China’s bullet trains suggest that the technology is still very much a work in progress, and needs to be further refined before serious investments are made in the service.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.