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China Daily Website

High-speed train ticket prices are too high

Updated: 2012-12-28 22:34
( chinadaily.com.cn)

The world's longest high-speed railway, connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, began operating on Wednesday, says an article in Beijing News Daily. Excerpts:

The 2,298 km line links five regional economic centers — Beijing, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha and Guangzhou. Travelling time between Beijing and Guangzhou is eight hours.

Although its influence on economic growth and tourism has yet to be seen, the social effects of its exorbitant ticket prices have been felt around the country.

The top price for a ticket from Beijing to Guangzhou is more than 2,000 yuan ($317),  comparable to air ticket prices.

Migrant workers and students are the main rail travelers in China, followed by tourists and businessmen. So the majority of travelers using trains are relatively sensitive to surging ticket prices.

Because of expensive tickets, trains running between Wuhan and Guangzhou, a section that was completed and became operational earlier than the rest of the Beijing-Guangzhou line, often run with empty carriages.

The railway authorities should reflect on the building program. Borrowing from banks, and building costly railways as soon as possible, causes problems. The financial burden is transferred to passengers, whose average income is growing more slowly than sharply rising ticket prices on every class of train.

Only when prices are acceptable to most consumers can high-speed rail travel have a positive effect in promoting local economic growth. Otherwise, such rail lines will not make ends meet in the long run.