China not slowing high-speed rail construction

By Yan Weijue (
Updated: 2011-06-07 19:13
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China is not applying the brake to its high-speed rail network development, according to a spokesperson for the railway ministry.

The adjustments in some of the country's high-speed railway projects, such as reduced speed of bullet trains and classification of ticket prices, is to assist the public as well as the railway department, rather an indicator of slowing down the construction, said Wang Yongping in an interview with the Beijing Times published on Tuesday.

China's high-speed trains will run at 300 kilometers per hour starting from July 1, instead of the previously announced 350 km/h. The lines will also operate bullet trains between 200 and 250 km/h.

The move is required for a balance of safety and economic profits following complaints over high ticket prices and some critics suggesting the large-scale construction of the high-speed rail infrastructure was causing the ministry to suffer huge debts that could crush it.

But inter-city bullet trains, namely Beijing-Tianjin express and Shanghai-Hangzhou express train will still run at a speed of 350km/h, according to Wang, who also implied floating ticket prices will be applied for trains running at 300km/h "based on market demand".

China's investment in rail remains huge if not exorbitant, with this year's number at 745.5 billion yuan ($115 billion) and 2.8 trillion yuan during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period, said Wang in the ministry's statement in May.

He was refuting earlier reports that China axed 200 billion yuan in high-speed rail investment in 2011.

Wang said the country's high-speed rail tracks will expand to 45,000 km by 2015. Railways in the country's western regions will be extended to 50,000 km.