Railways and train operators in China are increasingly using toxic substances and pollution to boost profits, a new report warns.
The report, released today by the International Rail Transport Association (IRTA), said a growing number of operators are using “non-compete clauses” to prevent them from sharing data with regulators.
The clauses prohibit operators from disclosing how many train passengers they currently employ, where they are in a train and how long they plan to be on the train, the report says.
It also says that many operators have “zero” compliance agreements, and have not required train operators to follow government safety guidelines.
The IRTA said its report also found that a growing percentage of railway companies in China now use air-purifying trains, with up to 20% of them operating in China.
It added that the number of air-safe trains in China has increased from 3,000 in 2016 to 5,000 today.
Railway companies in Asia and Europe, which have been struggling with air pollution linked to diesel trains and other emissions, also have seen an increase in air-pollution.
IRTA said China was now the second-biggest source of air pollution in the world after the US.
The IRWA said the rise in air pollution was not limited to coal-producing regions.
The study said a rising number of railway operators in Europe are also using air-compression systems to boost train speeds.
Its authors, including China’s National Railway Bureau (NRB), are also calling for more rail operators to be required to report the emissions they are emitting to authorities.
They also want the NRB to consider a national emissions trading scheme that would provide rail operators with information about how much pollution they are causing to the environment.
But China’s transport minister, Li Shuo, dismissed the report as a “misleading” attempt to promote rail companies in the country.
He said the country’s railways had made great strides in meeting safety standards and emissions targets and that air quality remained “in the best condition” in the World Bank region.
“In the face of such a report, it is necessary to look into the source of the data and make sure that the relevant authorities can be made aware of it,” he said.