[photopress:bullet_trains.jpg,full,alignright]On the first day of the peak May holiday week, China’s railways carried 5.2m passengers.Last month China introduced its first 280 bullet trains as part of a scheme that will, according to to the railway ministry, eventually raise passenger capacity by 18% and freight capacity by 12%. Capable of up to 250kph, the new CRH (China Railway High-speed) trains have cut the journey time from Beijing to Shanghai by two hours to ten hours, and the trip from Shanghai to Suzhou in half. Tickets were mostly sold out during the holiday week.
heir introduction marked the sixth ‘speed-up’ of China’s railways. For most of their first month in operation, however, they were attacked:
Not being very fast. (Despite a $3.8 billion investment in track upgrades, there are only 6,000km of track where the new trains can reach an average speed of 200kph. The ministry says it will more than double the amount of high-speed track by 2020.
Ticket prices have risen by 50% on some routes and more than doubled on others. This has caused resentment. The ministry has admitted that it might introduce ‘substantial’ price cuts on some routes. Migrant workers have been complaining about ‘fast trains for the rich’.
Not being desperately reliable. The China Daily said that in the past month there have been three reported breakdowns of trains on the Beijing-Harbin line.
A train from Harbin in northeastern China pulled into Beijing station 4 hours and 52 minutes behind schedule.
The air conditioning system also broke down in the sealed carriages.
Sources: The Economist and International Herald Tribune
You must log in to post a comment.