CHINA : China's High-speed Train Network Appears to Charge Ahead

China s much publicized US$200 billion (150 billion euro) high-speed train network appears to pick up pace during 2012. Chinese Railway Minister said 3,500 kilometers rail line will be operational this year with the entire rail line stretching beyond 10,000 kms.

This enables the China's proposed North-South routes to be opened, which reduces the travelling time between some of the well-known cities of the country and at the same time providing a less expensive transport facility to the locals and also to the multitude of tourists arriving China every year.

The first route, which links Beijing and Shanghai, became operational last June and this year Beijing-Guangzhou (southern route), Beijing-Harbin (northeast) and a route that will link the coastal centres south of Shanghai is scheduled to be opened. That last route will eventually lead to the Beijing-Shenzhen line, but it is still waiting for the completion of the Xiamen-to-Shenzhen leg. Once completed, the Beijing-Shenzhen trip is estimated to take only eight hours instead of the instead of the current 24, and the Beijing-Harbin travel time will reduce to five hours instead of nine.

The train fares for the Beijing-Shanghai line (running at 300km/h) come between 555 yuan (66 euros) for second-class and 1,750 yuan (209 euros) for business class. The airfares for the same cities cost around 755 yuan (90 euros) for the cheapest seats on budget airlines. China's master plan is to establish a national rail system of 120,000 km in place by 2015 which includes 16,000 km of high-speed lines.

In 2011, the project work was suspended as part of the Chinese government s budget cuts. In addition, the line was also plagued by corruption scandals and a crash happened near the town of Wenzhou in the eastern Zhejiang province in July claimed around 35 lives.Ltd.

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