Slowing Down the High Speed Rails – News Story of the Week

China’s high-speed rail system has been a hot topic for these past few months since it was revealed that millions of dollars had been embezzled from these projects. With that revelation came some big questions over the safety of the system, which had already been constructed with a fraction of the budget used in other countries. Japanese engineers were also raising questions about how China was using the same technology, but were traveling 25% faster than was allowable on Japanese lines.

Yesterday we got the first notice that these lines were going to be slowed down, however all of the information pointed to this move being in response to complaints about high ticket prices. Today it seems we are getting a bit more of the truth in this surprisingly honest piece from the People’s Daily, that admits safety concerns for the first time.

The concerns over the project don’t end there. Customers are complaining about high ticket prices, and bankers are questioning when exactly these new lines will be able to pay off their massive amounts of debt.

America definitely should be thinking about high-speed rail, but I’m not sure China’s system is what we should be envying.

About T

I have been working in China for nearly five years now. I have traveled to more than 30 cities and towns, and have lived in 3 provinces. I am interested in issues concerning development in China and the rest of the world. I hope to provide a balanced look at some of the issues facing China as it continues its rise to power.
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5 Responses to Slowing Down the High Speed Rails – News Story of the Week

  1. Chopstik says:

    I’m curious how the Chinese air travel system now compares to the US. We’ve heard a great deal about how China invests in high speed rail but it seems that it falls into the same problems as many other of their endeavors – much to the collective chagrin of its many supporters.

    Have you had an opportunity to try the high speed rail yourself? If so, what is your opinion?

    • Tom says:

      First of all I thoroughly enjoy riding the high speed rail, but I did find myself complaining about the price just last week. On a trip to wuxi by train it cost 138 and took an hour and a half, by bus it would have been just over 2 hours and cost about 1/3 of that. It seemed quite pricey for not much faster.
      China’s air travel system is growing, but many of the airports sit empty and operate at a loss. China want’s many things right now, but when it comes down to it, many of the people don’t want to spend the money. They are used to going slow, and don’t quite see the point in flying when tickets are so much more expensive than bus or train.

  2. john book says:

    I last used Japan’s hsr back in ’98 to ’02…. It was FAST!!! But I was disappointed ’cause you couldn’t tell it was fast. I was expecting hurricane wind blowing through my hair and magnificent centrifugal forces around curves, etc…. but other than a slight blur outside the window…. you don’t know you’re flying on the ground.

    The cost then, was about $1.00/mile… at that time…THAT was exciting!

    Course, the lead engine’s nose was quite sexy….. Other than one “driver” leaving his post to retrieve his hat while the train was rolling full-tilt, I’ve not heard any talk of scandal.

  3. Pingback: High Speed Rail Thoughts | Stephen C. Rose

  4. Pingback: Is China Headed For An Economic Crash? | Seeing Red in China

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