China has charged a former railways minister who led the rapid expansion of the country's train network with taking bribes and abusing his power in one of the country's biggest graft investigations.

A court statement said it had received the lawsuit against Liu Zhijun from prosecutors on Wednesday morning.

"The date of the trial will be released in due time," said the official at the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court, who refused to give his name.

Liu was appointed railways minister in 2003 and dismissed in February 2011 for unspecified discipline violations. He was also stripped of his membership in the Communist Party of China.

The former official from Hubei province allegedly took more than $125m in kickbacks over several years on contracts linked to the bullet-train system. 

Dangerously fast

News reports have also linked Liu to the high-speed train collision in July 2011 that killed 40 passengers and injured 172 others.

Investigators have blamed "improper management" as a cause of the tragedy.

Reports suggested charges against Liu might include taking kickbacks and bribes, illegally awarding contracts and engaging in sexual liaisons.

Liu led the rapid growth of China's bullet-train network, which has become the world's biggest.

Following his firing and a fatal train crash in July 2011, the government scaled back ambitious expansion plans.

Even before the 2011 disaster, the bullet train was a target of critics who said it was dangerously fast and too expensive for a society where the poor majority need more low-cost transportation.

Source: Agencies