Immediately after the accident, the Ministry of Railways called for a two-month nationwide safety check and announced that three senior officials in the Shanghai Railway Bureau had been dismissed pending an investigation. The officials are Mr Long Jing, the bureau's head, Mr Li Jia, head of the bureau's Communist Party committee, and deputy chief Mr He Shengli.

"Safety should be put as the top priority," said Mr Wang Yongping, a spokesman for the Ministry of Railways, speaking the following day in Wenzhou. He said the Ministry will undertake a thorough investigation to discover the cause of the accident and take effective measures to prevent similar accidents.

Despite the accident, Wang said the Ministry is still confident in high-speed rail. "China's high-speed train is advanced and qualified," Wang said. "We have confidence in it."

Nevertheless shares in leading Chinese railway equipment manufacturers took a hit in heavy trading today on the Shanghai stock exchange.