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China’s High-Speed Rail Dilemma

January 14, 2011

I want to elaborate, just a bit, on the point I made in my latest China Economic Review column about China’s high-speed rail investment, since it had to be cut short there due to space restrictions. 

Currently, China’s conventional rail system is stretched to capacity carrying two commodities: coal and people.  And as Damien Ma, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, notes in a post today at The Atlantic, passengers takes politically priority over coal, requiring much of the nation’s coal to be transported by truck, leading to monumental traffic jams on China’s roads (including the famous 10-day, 62-mile backup outside of Beijing last August, which attracted worldwide attention and mainly consisted of coal trucks).

The theory is that building a national high-speed rail network will put all that passenger traffic on “the fast track,” as it were, and open up capacity on the existing rail network to move not only more coal but also other types of goods, thus relieving the road backups and boosting both productivity and regional development. 

The problem is that high-speed rail is expensive both to build and to operate, requiring high ticket prices to break even.  The bulk of the long-distance passenger traffic, especially during the peak holiday periods, is migrant workers for whom the opportunity cost of time is relatively low.  Even if they could afford a high-speed train ticket — which is doubtful given their limited incomes — they would probably prefer to conserve their cash and take a slower, cheaper train.  If that proves true, the new high-speed lines will only incur losses while providing little or no relief to the existing transportation network.

Unfortunately, that seems to be precisely the situation that’s shaping up this Chinese New Year (the year’s peak travel season), according to an article in this Wednesday’s China Daily.  The article reports that

Some 5,149km of high-speed track were put into service last year, making the network stretch to 8,358km, the world’s longest … But the opening of more fast train services has led to fewer regular trains being available for budget-conscious passengers.

China Daily notes that a new luxury sleeper service between Shanghai and Chengdu costs an astonishing US$352 (easily comparable — and possibly more expensive than — an air ticket).

But many travelers cannot afford the tickets, causing a waste of transport capacity.

Instead of buying expensive high-speed rail tickets, migrants are instead opting to take the bus:

[An official spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation] said this year the situation had pushed many passengers, who used to ride home by slow trains because of the cheap tickets, onto long-distance buses.  This extra traffic will add pressure to the road transport system during the travel peak season, [he] said.

Long-distance bus traffic over Chinese New Year, the article notes, is expected to increase nearly 12% from the same period last year, requiring 70,000 more buses on the roads.

Rather than capturing lower-end traffic from slower trains and buses, it appears the new high-speed lines are drawing higher-end traffic away from China’s airlines:

Wang Changshun, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, told a conference on Tuesday that the fast trains have forced some airlines to cancel short-distance flights along high-speed rail lines. 

For example, the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, where every few minutes trains zip between the two cities via Changsha … has carried 20.6 million passengers since its opening in December 2009.  During that period the number of flights between Changsha and Guangzhou has been cut from an average of 11.5 flights a day to three flights a day, he said.  Hainan and Shenzhen airlines decided to withdraw from the market, leaving only China Southern Airlines carrying the three daily flights … The ticket price for those flights also dropped by 15 percent … but still the number of passengers … dropped by 48 percent.

“The opening of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line next year will be another blow to the air transport industry,” Wang said.

It may be that China’s airlines could use a bit of competition, but that certainly wasn’t the intent behind the high-speed rail build-out.  The intent was to relieve the congestion of China’s existing rail system, thereby opening up lower-end capacity to handle more freight, and relieving stress on roads.  It was supposed to bump passengers up-market (from slow trains to fast trains) not down-market (from slow trains to buses, from planes to fast trains).

The argument I make — in abbreviated form — in my CER article is that rather than trying to divert passenger traffic to high-speed rail, China should focus on the (far less glamorous) task of improving and expanding its intermodal freight system — using the U.S., in part at least, as a model.  That involves not just laying more conventional track, but also building the support infrastructure to make more efficient use of that track, especially in China’s underpenetrated interior.  As I point out in my article:

Inland Chinese cities like Chengdu or Lanzhou are really no more remote from global markets than Chicago or Denver; the difference is a robust and efficient logistics network. With container terminals, rail yards, and modern storage facilities in place, more industries would find it plausible to locate in China’s interior, alleviating the need for workers to travel so far from home to find a job.

The next line I wrote cuts to the core difference between the two approaches:

Rather than moving people more quickly, [China] should build a rail system that moves goods and makes people more productive where they already are.

To be fair, China is making some effort in this direction, but it has taken a back seat to the glitzy all-out push for high-speed rail.

[Some readers might wonder what knowledge or experience I have that would enable me to offer an informed opinion on this subject, and that's a fair question.  It just happens that, for nine years, I served as a transportation and logistics officer in the U.S. Army Reserves.  I received training in the design and operation of road, rail, water, and air transportation systems, served with a terminal operations unit, and was in charge of running both ports and railheads.  I also worked a couple of years, early in my career, coordinating intermodal freight movements for an ocean shipping line, from port to customer and back again.  By no means do I hold myself out as an expert on transportation, but I am familiar enough with the issues to see some real problems emerging here.]

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39 Comments leave one →
  1. tanner boyle permalink
    January 14, 2011 9:48 pm

    Love the epilogue!

  2. Glen permalink
    January 15, 2011 12:14 am

    Mr. Chovanec,

    My complements, again you have brought to the forefront a perspective on China that I have never heard reported before – Excellent perspective and article.
    I trust that you will continue to think and write about under reported strengths and weaknesses of China’s progress.

  3. Linca permalink
    January 15, 2011 12:15 am

    Wouldn’t another small answer be the introduction of some form of yield management in the world of Chinese railways ? I’m currently crossing China by train and the (mostly deluxe) soft sleepers compartment are mostly half empty, for example. Maybe some of the passenger traffic could be moved from slow to fast train if at least some tickets in those fast trains were cheap enough… Of course, the deluxe two persons compartments will remain very expensive, I guess.

  4. dean jackson permalink
    January 15, 2011 2:01 am

    Just another great example of how centralized planning, no matter how well intention, runs amok and wastes resources.

  5. January 15, 2011 3:29 am

    I read your post on The Business Insider and will cross-post my response here. I liked your writing and have a favorable impression of your blog, I will be adding it to my lists.

    — Reply —-

    I think this is a very good article. It sizes up the issue very succinctly and makes my gears turn regarding transportation systems.

    The problem with our approaches to making a ultra-modern transportation system (more modern than what we have now) is that they’re plain ineffective. High speed rail is using the same hammer of the soon bygone oil age on a problem it is not fit for. People need greater mobility and our current system is overstressed? Make it go faster!

    like “let them eat cake”

    No, there is no high speed rail example in the world that shows a net economic and social gain for it collectively, including Japan! Rampant subsidies and marginally permissive economics are ubiquitous to all the historical examples we have. If that wasn’t enough, it’s the opposite of an egalitarian technology, as it only stratifies the transportation products that affluent citizens can buy.

    There is only one solution for the nature of problem we have at hand, which is fully-blown systems thinking applied to the entire network of transportation options. This is a MACRO economics problem and we need to realize that in the future, we need to solve macro problems, not just micro problems. I agree with the author that China needs to focus on making productive work occur where people are, and not the other way around. That is one part to a 1.3 billion piece puzzle they have.

    I think there are other solutions. I think we need revolutions in the social and experiential aspects of transportation instead of increases in speed. Time and time again it has been shown that the time taken in the transit itself is not the problem with rail travel at all. The problems for making good transportation available are efficient connections, trip comfort, and price. We need to redesign how people travel from the experience up and basically make bigger trains while at the same time making smaller tributaries of the system more accessible. This can be done with a major systems thinking overhaul and an open public process that address what people really want – not by assuming they want a train that goes faster.

    I don’t care how fast my train goes, I care how quick I get to my destination and how grumpy I am when I get there.

    • Glenn permalink
      January 15, 2011 8:55 am

      I would say that “I don’t care how fast my train goes” and “I care how quick I get to my destination” are two diametrically opposing views.

      In my other comment, I list out some of the other positive externalities of expanding the rail network, but let’s just focus on the very measurable benefit of time saved for now and then layer on some perspective on the overall cost of the project.

      Look, we all know the cliche that time is money. Today, time is less valuable in China because their incomes are lower. But tomorrow, as incomes rise, time saved will just get more valuable. The long-term nature of rail systems means that future, presumably wealthier generations will reap the same real benefits of HSR (in terms of time saved) for years to come.

      The crux of Patrick’s article is whether there are alternate ways to create value that make more economic sense today. I argue in another comment that upgrading the rail network makes sense, though I would agree that it needs to be alongside improvements in other transportation options (such as intermodel logistics which he focuses on). China’s sheer size generally makes it imperative to attack such large and complex challenges on multiple problems.

      (It’s kind of like arguing whether you focus on wind vs. solar vs. higher efficiency to reduce America’s dependence on oil – it’s missing the key point which is that to solve such a large problem you need to implement an entire array of different approaches).

      On this cost-benefit question, let’s put some things in perspective. The 968 km Guangzhou to Wuhan line cost about 117 billion RMB. This is roughly the same cost in USD ($17 billion) as the proposed 14km long 2nd avenue Subway in New York City and slightly more than the $15 billion 345 km high speed rail from Taipei to Kaohsiung in Taiwan. So I would say it is not as expensive as you might think.

      Moreover, usage of the Guangzhou-Wuhan line has actually been greater than originally modeled, which suggests that more people can afford it than you might think.

  6. gregorylent permalink
    January 15, 2011 4:52 am

    just one of those things going off the rails at 350 km/hr will shake things up a bit as well

  7. Glenn permalink
    January 15, 2011 8:01 am

    Hi Patrick, I enjoy reading your blog and hearing your perspective on China. I wanted to respond with some of my own thoughts on your recent post (http://chovanec.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/chinas-high-speed-rail-dilemma/).

    I’ll start by rehashing stuff I am sure you have heard before but its important background into the way I am going about thinking about this. First, I’ll state my view up front – over the long run, I believe that building out the rail network (including HSR) as part of an integrated transportation system will provide substantial net benefit to Chinese society as a whole. The arguments for this are both general and specific to China as contrasted with the US (and to a lesser extent Europe).

    I think we can agree that an efficient rail network in general provides network externalities to overall society. This includes:
    – Reduction in the need for personal cars – benefits particularly the lower and middle class
    – Reduction in road congestion – fewer cars needed for city-dwellers will significantly relieve congestion in the cities and on the highways
    – Reduction in the reliance on imported oil – China has fewer oil reserves than the US (and more people) and relies (increasingly) more heavily on imports
    – More efficient people movement – unlike highway networks, rail can be scaled more reliably than the road network
    – Improvement in the freight network – slower freight can use existing capacity currently released by slower passenger rail

    There are also second order effects of increasing the intensity of urbanization, and connecting people and their ideas, that have proven to create wealth (at least as measured by output). It is not easy to put a precise number on the magnitude of these network externalities, but I think it is reasonable to assume that it is (i) positive and (ii) quite large … and ultimately reflected in broad quality of life measures (though not necessarily financial returns).

    Therefore, I do not think you should look only at near-term financial returns on high-speed rail because they may not capture these externalities. Or even those over the next ten years – history has shown that rail infrastructure is an exceptionally long-term investment (in the US, we are still using track, much of which was built a hundred or more years ago). America’s great railroad building boom ended in bust for many financial investors, contributed to several large recessions/depressions but I would say over the last 150 years they have delivered a huge net benefit to America – and continue to do so. I recognize that you are not debating against the merits of rail in general, but on the benefit of incremental investment in rail (particularly of the HSR variety), but I think it is also important to give full consideration to these positive externalities.

    So onto the question of whether this incremental investment in rail infrastructure is the best use of capital which is what you were really focused on.

    While it may be true that the majority of Chinese consumers today would consider HSR to be a luxury out of their reach, given the relatively high rates of household income growth most expect, there will be millions of more people, particularly in the specific corridors (Beijing-Shanghai-Hong Kong) targeted for high-speed rail, where HSR will become viable economically in a relatively quicky timeline.

    This article – http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2009/01/12/high-speed-rail-in-china/ – makes an important point which is that the actual track for HSR and “normal speed” rail are the same, so HSR primarily entails additional investments in more expensive rolling stock, not track itself. The rail itself, whether it can support normal trains or HSR, does not represent a major change. I am not a civil engineer by training but this makes sense to me.

    These positive network externalities are enhanced by characteristics specific to China as contrasted with US and to a lesser extent, Europe:
    – The nature of China’s development is denser than Europe and far denser than the US. Whereas the majority of people live in suburban or low-density urban (that often would not even qualify as urban for China) in the US. There are very dense cities and dense towns and then there are rural farming areas that are sparse. These denser, more concentrated pockets of people make it easier to develop a fixed rail network that goes from urban concentration to urban concentration. Contrast this with Southern California, where thousands of square miles of low-density suburban housing makes it difficult (logically and politically) to build statio stops. I would further contrast this with my dad’s situation – retired and spending the winter months in Southern China in the “countryside” … xiang xia … and he lives in a 15-story apartment building just as tall as mine in downtown NYC and does not need an automobile to get around.
    – China still has a significant amount of under-utilized labor. While labor is not the only cost component, it is a significant portion of the total construction costs. The alternative for many for these labourers would be non-productive rural – despite all of its progres in the last 20-30 years, China still has excess labour of this variety – particularly when certain export industries tanked in late 2008. From a comparative perspective, in the US diverting resources into HSR would take people out of more productive activity.
    – On the commodities and materials costs involved (steel, industrial machinery etc.), I would argue that accelerating the timetable for rail buildout when the developed economies slowed down (as they did starting in 2007) means that they are taking advantage of a period of lower demand for those commodities. Which means they may just be cheaper than ten, twenty years from now when (i) the developed countries have worked their way out of the suppressed growth and (ii) India and other rapidly growing developing countries are also hungry for those commodities.
    – As you know, China is in the middle of rapid development and change. The implication of this is that it will be a lot cheaper for China to built out its rail network today than in the future when people are wealthier and society is more built up (less to rip up). Cheaper in terms of both absolute labor costs as discussed above, but also in terms of moving people and infrastructure out of the way of rail lines because they need to be straight. I do not want to get into a human rights debate – e.g. the morality of asking peasants to “move out of the way” – it is about the relative difference between today and tomorrow – and I know that it is a lot less inconvenient to ask someone to move today than it will be in a more developed economy tomorrow. Contrast this with the US and Europe – regardless of whether it happens today or twenty years from now, I know it will be very expensive in either case to acquire land rights to build rail in the US so there is less of a benefit to accelerate the process.
    – Your article discussed that HSR does not fulfill its “original intent” of relieving congestion on the existing rail system. Also you speculated that it was the “glitzy” nature of HSR that drove government planners. I am not sure whether that was the only intent of the planners in central government or whether they are doing it for vanity – where are you getting that from?

    To me, this was merely the acceleration of existing plans (in an economic downdraft, when costs are lower and resources more available) to continue the process of upgrading China’s overall transportation infrastructure that has been going on for quite some time now. Ultimately, given its sheer size and density, China’s transportation will inevitably rely on all forms – cars, buses, planes and trains and the logistics-related infrastructure (such as intermodal facilities that you mention) required to connect all of them. The key point is that they are heavily investing in all of these areas. I cannot comment on the relative benefit of incremental benefit of taking away some HSR investment to put more into intermodal as you suggest – I think they just said to heck with it, we have excess labour so why not just do more of everything. There will inevitably be things like waste, bad decisions and corruption to squeeze efficiencies out of the resource allocation process, but in the end the positives outweigh the negatives.

    • Alex permalink
      January 16, 2011 3:08 am

      Glenn, your post is thoughtful and detailed, but I disagree with your overall bullish sentiment on the nature of the rail investment. Zhao Jian summed up the bearish case last year:

      http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2010-04/19/content_9745174_2.htm

      One segment that struck me was:

      HSR technology originated from and developed in countries with small territories and a high-density of cities and population, such as Japan, France and Germany. HSR passenger volume depends on the economic value of its travel time. However, the economic value of travel time saved in the day and at night is entirely different.

      Due to distances of less than 500 km among major cities in small-sized countries, travelers can arrive at their destination by HSR within two hours and the time saved in the daytime has high economic value.

      But major cities in China are mainly at distances of more than 1,000 km apart, so high-speed is not an advantage in the long-distance railway passenger market and the overnight trip is more attractive. Spending one night in a couchette not only saves hotel fees, it also frees up the day. The economic value of the travel time saved during the night is not significant.”

      Moreover, the useful US investment in rail was investment in the movement of goods, not necessarily the investment in the movement of passengers, which appears to be the aim of HSR in China.

      • Glenn permalink
        January 16, 2011 12:14 pm

        Alex – thanks for the link.

        China’s population density (139/sq km) is straight up higher than France’s (114/sq km). If you factor in the reality that the majority of its land mass is not practical to live (Himalayas, Gobi Desert, most of Xinjiang), its liveable areas are at least as dense as Japan (337/sq km) and Germany (229/sq km).

        For example, Jiangsu province’s population density is well over 2x Japan’s (724/sq km) and Shandong, Henan, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Anhui, Hebei, Hubei and Hunan are all greater than or comparable. Not so coincidentally, these provinces (plus the 4 main municipalities of course) are where the bulk of the HSR development is taking place.

        As I mentioned before, I think it is erroneous to judge an investment of such a long-term nature and with so many positive externalities based on the financial returns in the first 12 months.

    • Sharon permalink
      February 9, 2011 5:28 pm

      Counldn’t agree more with Glenn.

      Westerners underestimate the farsightedness and helicopter views of what they derisively call ” centralized ” government, which they fail to remember, comprises at least some elite thinkers.

      In every culture, there are positives and negatives. You lose some battles with mismanagement, corruption, etc., but you win the war of ultimate progress.

      The basic benefits Glenn ‘ rehashed ‘ serve the foundation from which China can develop.

      Particularly the first two simple benefits Glenn mentioned —
      ” Reduction in the need for personal cars ” and
      ” Reduction in road congestion “,
      are especially difficult to implement in Asia, where the increasingly affluent populace does not want to drop the pursuit of purchasing cars, despite readily available public transport, compared to western countries.

      Just as China embarks on numerous environmental projects, China is lucky to be able to try influencing transport choices of its people now, as an increasing number of Chinese citizens begin to earn more money.

      If you’ve seen public service advertisements on Shanghai television, you will be surprised at how sophisticated the Chinese are in trying to instill public awareness about the environment, in terms of conserving every little drop of water, eschewing consumption of sharks’ fins, etc.

      So by the time the rail is complete in future, more environmentally conscious Chinese will find high-speed rail a viable option of transport.

  8. Proust permalink
    January 16, 2011 3:34 am

    Don’t forget.
    Pettis argued the same thing many, many months ago about high speed rail in China.
    Sorry.
    Don’t have time to find the exact date of his blog post about this subject.
    Why not ask him.
    You both.
    Are right.

  9. Proust permalink
    January 16, 2011 9:18 am

    Don’t forget, also.
    There is the prestige factor.
    No doubt all the world is envious of China’s ability to slap, dab build out so quickly a very extensive super high speed railway.

    I am sure.
    There are plenty of people entering the gates of 30th Street Station in Philly.
    Who would love to board a Chinese super fast train.
    And zip up to Cambridge and Boston in record time.
    These fast trains should be built in the USA first.
    Where.
    As you say.
    People will pay for using them.
    You and Pettis are both correct in what you say.
    But still.
    China’s budget for high speed rail.
    Makes some forward thinkers in the US just ‘GREEN’ with envy.

    Do you think that the USA’s perceived lack of acceptable population density will preclude building out world class high speed rail?
    At least in some of the original 13 colonies?

    I hope the USA will begin to think high speed rail where appropriate.
    Everyone likes a Wharton Winner!
    But no one likes a loser.
    We need our own high speed railway.
    Will China’s build out be our Sputnik?

  10. greg permalink
    January 20, 2011 4:39 am

    I have written several comments on the infrastrcurist.com in relation to Patrick’s post on China’s HSR (http://www.infrastructurist.com/2011/01/19/is-chinas-high-speed-rail-pricing-out-passengers/#comments). I’m copying below:

    Patrick Chovanec’s article is vastly misleading. I’m planning to write a long comment to his blog to refute his arguments. But here are only a few points:

    1. The Shanghai to Chengdu service is NOT on HSR. The HSR line between Shanghai and Chengdu has not been completed yet. This service is on existing, conventional track. The only thing new in this report is that MOR has just started a faster service between Shanghai and Chengdu on existing line and a luxury sleeper service class is offered (what this offered is not just a seat or bed, it’s bedroom). The service is twice a day and it’s very difficult to get a ticket for the luxury sleeper service.

    2. China IS building and expanding its freight rail network with 18 hubs planned to be built. HSR naturally gets all the limelight, but just because there are not a lot of news reports and very few people (including foreigners) interested in the freight side of the build-out does not mean China is neglecting that part.

    3. Chinese railway industry and rail network are vast and complex. Without direct experience or keeping a close eye on the fast-changing industry, it is very difficult for people to give a professional opinion and accurate assessment, even if you have rail or transport experience in other countries.

    4. China’s HSR network is still under construction, even if a lot lines have been completed in the last few years. Passenger rail is ultimately a network business, therefore are and will still be a lot of inconveniences in China’s HSR, e.g., unconnected lines, unfinished rail stations, local transport links to the rail stations, poorly-performed on-line ticketing services. You’ll continue to hear a lot of China’s HSR distractors to spread misinformation and “evidences” why China’s HSR is such a bad idea. In the end, these people will be shown that they’re way off.

  11. greg permalink
    January 20, 2011 4:41 am

    Another comment in response to a reader’s comment on infrastructurist.com:

    @John,

    You’re absolute right that HSR is expensive. People should not think and expect that HSR is always a cheaper alternative to airlines. However, HSR’s advantage over airlines will only become clear when there are enough ttraffic. For that reason, the US is not always the best country to build a vast, national HSR network; while China is probably the best country to do so.

    First, China has a much larger population density and the majority of the populations are concentrated on the Easter part of the country. There are many mega cities with several million of population are several hundred miles apart, a distance and population very suitable for HSR.

    Second, you should not think a HSR line just as a point-to-point connection, at least not in China. Take Shanghai and Chengdu, along the yet-to-be-completed Shanghai-Chengdu HSR line, there are several mega cities and medium-sized cities (Chengdu, Chongqing, Wanzhou, Yichang, Wuhan, Hefei, Nanjing and Shanghai) with population between a million to over 10 million. Now compare the airlines capacity you would need and the HSR capacity, add the energy, environmental and cost and convenience factors, it’s not difficult to draw a conclusion.

    Thirdly, China’s HSR is not that expensive. Let us compare the HSR service between Beijing and Tianjin, with the Acela Express service between New York and Philadelphia, which are of similar distance. The Beijing-Tianjin service costs 59 yuan ($9) in under 30 minutes, while the New York-Philadelphia service costs $150 in 65 minutes on Amtak.com.

    Finally, let’s not use a few luxury sleeper services to judge the suitability and sustainability of HSR, whether it’s on HSR or not. Ultimately, it’s only a small percentage of the seat capacity offered by train, just like the first class seats on air planes. Why are we even bothered to mention these luxury service when we discuss the overall train business (and there you see the fallacy of Patrick Chovanec’s arguments: it’s irrelevant!).

  12. January 31, 2011 10:21 pm

    The same prob in the US. Too much emphasis on the ‘toy’ aspect of what should be a work- supporting infrastructure. US needs to abandon the ‘Disney ride’ high- speed rails and electrify what currently exists and add more rails to take trucks off the highways.

    And carz, too.

    One does not have to be an expert, just have eyes — and mind — open.

  13. February 1, 2011 12:28 am

    Only inhumane d-bags consider humans commodities.

  14. Tommy permalink
    February 3, 2011 3:13 am

    China seems pleased with its return on investment for high speed rail. It just announced another $1.5 Trillion for HSR and nuclear power. The cost of capital for China is very low. It can lend the money to the US at near zero rates, it can invest in its infrastructure or it can use the money to invade Taiwan. I’m glad they’ve chosen the first option. HSR creates good jobs in China. It’s a smart strategy for them.

  15. Tim Woo permalink
    February 22, 2011 4:29 pm

    Hi,
    I’m Tim, from the coastal china, definitely benefiting from the megaproject of China’s High Speed Rail. Here i thank you for giving me more ideas and insights on the the issue economically and politically. As a Chinese, I normally lives as a non-politically involved citizen and have no sensitives for new policies. You may be surprised but this is the truth in contemporary China.

    Several days ago I took a short trip to Wenzhou city on that new train, called HeXie (means Harmony ), It made me a little bit patriotic and surprised how far has China gone. It’s surely much better than any of the former trains I’ve taken, cleaner and faster!

    For me, it’s more economic for take a train instead of taking a bus to Wenzhou from my county. I don’t know the intention of this project goes, but I believe the majority of this nation will not scold government for waste and no development priorities on issues whether we should move people faster or” improve and expanding its intermodal freight system”.

    I think China is not politically wronged, but theologically. The undervalue of humanity and no fairly emphasizing on PEOPLE. But the government will move confronting the yelling of people in poverty and unfairly treatment.

    Let’s hope “Change is coming to China”!

  16. Frank permalink
    March 8, 2011 5:43 am

    Although this article gives some good points, there are some important data need to studied before comes into the conclusion. For instance, it is no question that the some people still prefer the old cost-consious way to move around, but you need to present what persentage of Chinese people will do that. And will that number be changed in the next few years?

    If that number is not there, this article is not a solid debate but only a suspicious opinion.

  17. Jacob permalink
    April 29, 2011 9:17 pm

    High speed railway. Yeah I like it. A new line between Guangzhou and Zhuhai came into operation in 2010. Technical highest speed 250km/h, pratical speed in operation 199km/h, average speed 150-170km/h. Connecting over 20 important districts in 5 major cities of 1.5-15 million ppl. Price of whole jorney ~=6-7 US dollars. Convient indeed. Really like it so much. Forgive my Chinglish.

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