Hangzhou Train Platform Sinks: Safety Concerns Highlight Cracks in Chinese Infrastructure Projects

Hangzhou Train Platform Sinks: Safety Concerns Highlight Cracks in Chinese Infrastructure Projects

Sofia Delgado-Cheng
2 min read

Hangzhou Train Platform Sinks: Safety Concerns Highlight Cracks in Chinese Infrastructure Projects

Hangzhou East Railway Station, one of Asia's largest passenger transport hubs, has recently come under scrutiny for platform sinking issues. Passengers reported a 30-centimeter gap between the train carriages and the platform, causing significant inconvenience and potential safety hazards. The station, which opened in 2013 after extensive renovations, has experienced noticeable platform settlement, particularly in the last two years. Images and videos shared by concerned netizens show the disparity in height, raising questions about the construction quality and maintenance practices of Chinese infrastructure projects.

On July 3, a prominent blogger highlighted the issue, which quickly gained attention online. This isn't the first time the problem has been reported; similar complaints surfaced in May 2023 and as early as two years ago. Some speculate that the station's foundation, built on soft soil, may be contributing to the sinking. Following public outcry, the railway's management acknowledged the issue and promised to investigate further, although past tender documents reveal attempts to address similar problems in 2018 and 2021.

Key Takeaways

  1. Safety Concerns: The 30-centimeter gap between platforms and train carriages poses a significant risk to passengers, particularly the elderly and disabled.
  2. Repeated Issues: Platform sinking at Hangzhou East Station has been an ongoing problem, with prior attempts to address it proving insufficient.
  3. Foundation Problems: The station's location on soft soil might be a critical factor contributing to the structural issues.
  4. Public Outcry: Growing public dissatisfaction highlights the need for more robust infrastructure maintenance and oversight in China.


The sinking platform at Hangzhou East Station is not an isolated incident but a symptom of broader issues within China's infrastructure projects. The rapid expansion of high-speed rail and other large-scale projects often prioritizes speed over quality, leading to long-term structural problems. This incident also casts a shadow on China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where Chinese companies undertake massive infrastructure projects overseas.

Several high-profile failures of Chinese infrastructure projects abroad mirror the issues seen in Hangzhou. In Indonesia, a nickel smelting plant explosion in 2023, linked to poor safety standards, resulted in multiple fatalities. Similar concerns have arisen in Ecuador, Pakistan, and Uganda, where Chinese-built hydroelectric plants have faced significant structural and operational challenges shortly after completion.

These recurring problems raise questions about the quality of materials and construction practices used by Chinese firms. Corruption and lack of transparency in project management exacerbate these issues, as evidenced by various international scandals. For instance, inflated project costs in Malaysia's 1MDB scandal and safety lapses in Indonesia's industrial projects highlight systemic issues in Chinese infrastructure endeavors.

Did You Know?

  • Hangzhou East Station, built in 1992 and expanded in 2009, is one of Asia's largest passenger transport hubs.
  • The station's platform sinking issue has been documented since at least 2018, with multiple repair attempts made without long-term success.
  • Similar quality concerns have been reported in Chinese-funded projects abroad, such as the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower plant in Pakistan and the Isimba hydropower plant in Uganda.
  • Corruption scandals have marred Chinese infrastructure projects globally, with notable cases in Malaysia and Tajikistan involving inflated costs and financial irregularities.

The Hangzhou East Station incident underscores the need for stringent quality controls and transparent project management in China's infrastructure projects, both domestically and internationally. Addressing these challenges is crucial for ensuring the safety and reliability of future developments.

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