Wed 6 Jun 2007
OK, another train related story so soon after my last one and my trainspotter tendencies are plainly on display. However, I can’t help but appreciate that China has made some great strides in improving rail transport. Since April, high speed bullet train service has been available between many major cities, and reports are generally favorable in regards to service and comfort. With top speeds of 250 kph, travel times between major cities have been greatly reduced, on average by two hours.
Alas, all is not as rosy, as there have been complaints about the pricing. Fares are about 50 percent higher than the current express trains because of “greater costs, faster speeds and better service”, according to Wang Yongping, spokesman with the Ministry of Railways. As a result, they are considering reducing the fares to boost sluggish sales.
Personally, I can’t wait to try one. I once endured a 26 hour train ride from Beijing to Shiyan in Hubei Province to give a presentation for Dongfeng, China’s number two automobile manufacturer, and although it was a soft sleeper, it was far from comfortable. The same ride now would take less than a third of the time and be comparatively far more luxurious. Perhaps my vow to fly from now on, despite the eco impact, can be retracted.