By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
A bolster is a key aluminium alloy supporting structure that interfaces between the car body and the bogie (i.e, undercarriage of the train carrying the wheels). The bolster is typically rested on the secondary suspension of the bogie and will take the entire load of the car body and passengers.
Previously, the casting of the bolsters were outsourced by CSR Sifang, the Chinese train manufacturer, to a Chinese aluminium subcontractor Longkou Conglin Ltd. LTA said that the bolsters made by Longkou Conglin have impurities inside, leading to cracks developing over time. These cracks were found in July 2013 some 2 years after the trains were put into service.
Tests found that Longkou Conglin’s bolsters cannot withstand pressure loads of 3.7 times as required in the design specifications, but LTA deputy chief executive Chua Chong Kheng said it still has a “high safety margin”. He said that the Chinese-made bolsters did not pose any safety risk.
Still, LTA wants the new bolsters to be cast in Japan. They will now be cast by Japanese supplier Kobe Steel. CSR Sifang will continue to make the car bodies and assemble the trains.
Longkou Conglin Group
A check on Longkou Conglin’s website (http://en.conglin.com.cn) shows that it is a business group that seems to do all kinds of business:
* Automobile Parts
* Rubber products
* Piping products
* Education – Training Schools
* Real estate development
* Property management
* Civil engineering construction
* Plastic parts
* Paper production
It also appears to have its fair share of controversies in the news.
Buying fake products
It was reported that in Mar this year, a suspect, Mr Wang, was caught for supplying counterfeit international goods to manufacturers (http://liaocheng.sdnews.com.
Specifically, the suspect supplied counterfeit industrial ball and roller bearings of international companies like SKF and FAG. Manufacturers then incorporate these substandard counterfeit parts into their products.
In 2008, a Mr Li formed a company in Yantai, Shandong province, to obtain the counterfeit bearings from Wang. Li then supplied them to Longkou Conglin group, disguised as “genuine” SKF and FAG products.
Apparently, this went on for some 8 years before Wang was caught.
Swindling land from people?
In another case, a group of people claimed that the property arm of Longkou Conglin had created fake official documents to rob their land (http://bbs.tianya.cn/post-
They also accused a Yantai official from the Land Resource Authority in cahoot with Longkou Conglin.
The group organised a public protest in Yantai city early this year: