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China needs to expand its railways

China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-29 09:40

Comment on "Li points way for railways reform" (China Daily, July 25)

China should expand the railways as much as possible and improve other infrastructure facilities while the cost of labor in the country is still relatively low. Western nations are full of old and often decrepit infrastructure, which cannot be repaired or renovated because of the high labor costs.

The urbanization drive in China is still strong, and the government should use this momentum to build suburban railway networks for cities that have a population of a million or more. Such measures have to be taken during the urbanization process, because the costs of acquiring land and building rail corridors will increase manyfold in the future.

Trains, especially high-speed ones, are the best mode of transport because air travel is not ideal for a populous country like China.

Private ownership of a rail corridor seldom proves viable for passenger railway. The only success case I know of is Eastern Japan Rail, which bought all its land more than 100 years ago, and made more revenue from rental income from commercial space along its rail corridor and train stations than from fares.

China should avoid the US' attitude toward passenger railway. The US doesn't have the same population density as that of Europe and China. And its airline, car and road construction industries are more powerful than China's.

JJ-Sydney-OZ, on China Daily website

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