China`s bullet trains could become white elephants: Report

China`s famed fast paced bullet trains have reduced distances by cutting travel time.

Last Updated: Jul 02, 2010, 19:18 PM IST

Beijing: China`s famed fast paced bullet
trains have reduced distances by cutting travel time between
top cities but they could end up becoming white elephants as
fewer people wants to travel by them due to their high ticket

The high-speed rail service linking Shanghai and Nanjing,
one of China`s most developed economic zones was opened to
passengers yesterday.

"But while the mammoth project trumpets China`s ambitious
two-trillion-yuan (USD 293 billion) effort to speed up the
country`s railway system and boost the regional economy, it
also raises concerns of whether it will become another white
elephant if the service costs too much for travellers", state
run `Global Times` reported today.

The trains, shuttle between Shanghai and Nanjing, capital
of Jiangsu Province, at a speed of around 350 kilometres per
hour, which is faster than a Formula one racing car, covering
the 301-kilometre route in just 73 minutes.

Its 21 stops include the eight most prosperous cities in
the Yangtze River Delta region, including Suzhou and Wuxi.

However, as with many new high-speed rail lines, the
higher price has become an issue of contention among the
public, it said.

Li Zhixia, a passenger getting on the train in Nanjing
yesterday, told the newspaper that she wouldn`t take the
high-speed train again after giving it a try, because it only
cuts the travel time in half and is twice as expensive as the
second-fastest trains that run the route at about 200
kilometres an hour.

Wang Guangshu, who was travelling between Changzhou and
Nanjing, said he found no difference between express trains
and the bullet train. "The service is almost the same as on
the (slower) train, and it took almost the same time to reach
my destination, since it`s a short journey, but it cost 20
yuan more," he said.

In response to the questions about ticket prices, Wang
Yongping, the railway ministry`s spokesman, said there are two
voices on the price issue, with some believing it is too high
while others say the journey price is moderate.

"The price will be subject to the test of the market. It
is too early to make a conclusion now," Wang said.

Shi Qixin, a professor with the Institute of
Transportation Engineering at Tsinghua University, told the
`Global Times` that the construction of high-speed railways is
in line with national economic development and the improvement
of livelihood.

"The high-speed railway will offer strong competition
with aviation and may force flight prices down," Shi said.