China railway ministry spokesman dismissed
Last month, tragedy struck a Chinese high-speed rail line, as one bullet train crashed into a hopelessly stopped train on tracks near the city of Wenzhou, killing 40 people and injuring 191. The collision had been blamed on a design flaw in a railway signaling device.
Three Chinese railway ministry officials had been dismissed since the incident. A fourth, railway ministry spokesman Wang Yongping, was sent packing earlier this week. China’s railway ministry did not give a reason for the dismissal, but the dismissal wasn’t too much of a surprise, as Yongping gave some pretty questionable answers when explaining the crash to the media.
When asked why rescue workers had saved a live toddler from the train wreck several hours after the rescue attempts had been officially called off, Yongping answered that it was “a miracle of life.”
When asked why workers decided to bury a train car at the wreckage site before an official investigation had started, Yongping answered that the wreckage had to be cleared to aid rescuers.
“Whether you believe it or not, I believe it anyway,” he told reporters.
The train crash was the first fatal crash involving bullet trains in China, and the second deadliest high-speed rail crash in the history, behind the 1998 Eschede train disaster in Germany that claimed the lives of 101 people.
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Safety concerns have plagued China’s development of high-speed rail. Earlier this year, the Chinese railway ministry lowered maximum speeds on trains from 216 mph to 186 mph.
A couple months ago, China’s flagship bullet train line between Beijing and Shanghai experienced a series of power outages that additionally shook confidence in the transportation service.
The Chinese railway ministry has come under fire for reports of corruption, and is facing fierce criticism over the Wenzhou train crash. On Tuesday, the railway ministry admitted on its Web site that the management of the construction of its high-speed rail network was below standard.
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’.