All Aboard China's Fast Trains to Trouble

Discussion in 'China' started by Daredevil, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Now that high-speed trains are crisscrossing the country, enormous costs and other shortcomings have been exposed

    Nearly 300 spacious train stations replete with marble and amenities have opened across China in recent years to complement a fleet of white "Harmony" bullet trains that whisk passengers between cities at jaw-dropping speeds.

    Indeed, the nation's modern network of high-speed rail lines, grand stations and sleek trains has forever changed the world's impression of China's once-backward railroads.

    More track for high-speed railways was laid in China over the past decade than all new rail installed in western countries combined over the past half-century. What's more, China's railway companies now export technology and heavy manufacturing capacity to other countries.

    All this fast-track growth has cheered supporters of high-speed rail in China, who call the bullet trains more comfortable and a lot faster than the rusting coaches that typically crisscross the country. They also claim heavy investment for the network will eventually pay off through economic expansion in areas newly served by fast trains.

    Opponents of the ongoing project, however, say high-speed trains serve only the rich. They call the build-up wrong for China's strategic positioning, citing serious market, debt and financial risks. They also point to technical dangers and safety issues that run against the grain of China's push for "scientific development."

    A subdued debate over the pros and cons of high-speed expansion bubbled beneath the surface of Beijing policymaking for years even while the railway revolution roared forward. Nothing slowed the nationwide initiative led by the central government's Ministry of Railways and its then-chief, Liu Zhijun, also known as China's Father of High-speed Rail.

    Yet suddenly, following an announcement by authorities in February, allegations of financial corruption and all-too-cozy relations with railroad construction contractors blacklisted Liu and led to his demise. He's been detained by Communist Party investigators, removed from office and replaced. Some of his associates are in trouble as well.

    A source close to the ministry said inspectors started carefully combing through the railway system's investment records shortly after Liu's dismissal. The ongoing investigation may shed light on the scope of the alleged financial malfeasance.

    Meanwhile, the Liu case has raised questions about the quality, safety and sensibleness of high-speed railroads, bullet trains and related equipment. Separate concerns swirl around the future of traditional train lines, many of which offer slow but inexpensive travel, some of which have already been forced out by high-speed lines.

    Neglected Travelers

    Two months after its February 2010 opening, the high-speed Beijing-Fuzhou quietly closed for a lack of passengers. Reports said not a single seat was booked during the 10 days before the decision to scrap the 2,058-kilometer line.:laugh::rofl:

    Tickets were offered for up to 584 yuan for a seat and up to 1,185 yuan per sleeper, as opposed to 1,610 yuan for a typical plane ticket. A trip on a traditional slow train between these cities is four hours longer, but considerably less expensive.

    A World Bank report last year on high-speed rail and economic development found fast trains can successfully compete with airliners for journeys under 750 kilometers, especially when an airport is far from a city center. Rail can grab 80 percent of the traveling market for distances up to 500 kilometers, the report said. But planes are more popular for longer trips.

    Civil Aviation Administration Director Li Jiaxiang told Caixin that high-speed trains can compete against airliners when cities are less than 500 kilometers apart, but never when the distance is 2,000 kilometers.

    Zhao also noted that speed is not always a top criteria for travelers. Rather, a key concern is whether the time saved is of greater value than the higher cost.

    Traditional intercity rail travel is estimated to cost between 0.1 and 0.15 yuan per kilometer per person in China. High-speed rail, though, usually costs between 0.45 yuan and 0.6 yuan.

    This cost gap fueled debates this year during the traditional Spring Festival traveling period in February, when vast numbers of people return to their home towns for family celebrations. Critics of high-speed rail accused the Ministry of Railways of heavy spending on fast trains but ignoring the needs of common people who travel by rail for the annual festivities.

    Zhao noted that high-speed passenger lines have replaced slow, inexpensive trains, forcing passengers to pay higher ticket prices. He warned that the disappointment among rail travelers "could even cause social instability."

    Before the Wuhan-Guangzhou fast train started running in December 2009, many routes between Guangzhou and the cities of Wuchang and Hankou, including direct trains, were quietly shut down.

    A former Wuhan Railway Bureau worker told Caixin the lines were closed "to support high-speed rail." Bureau officials had feared informing travelers of the change, so instead of directly announcing the closings, would-be passengers were told at ticket windows that the seats were sold out.

    Similarly, high-speed rail lines between Beijing and Tianjin, Shanghai and Ningbo, and Shanghai and Hangzhou replaced at least some slower trains – even those running at 250 kph.


    Ironically, laborers for these high-speed rail projects have included the common people most likely to ride slow trains. To meet tight deadlines, railroad contractors often employ subcontractors, who then recruit local farmers living along a construction route for some of the grunt work.

    These farmers may lack railroad construction training, which one high-speed project supplier said can contribute to quality problems. Moreover, he said, overextended projects and short timetables challenge suppliers to meet demand.

    Tunnel excavations in China proceed at about 10 meters per day, said one foreign expert, about three times the tunneling pace common in other countries.

    Project chiefs often expect contractors to finish ahead of time, so suppliers are expected to deliver materials much sooner than planned. "And when that happens, it's hard to produce problem-free products," the supplier said.

    Why did Liu and the rest of the ministry apparently put high-speed rail projects ahead of costs, passengers and safety concerns?

    "Rail currently has a favorable, opportune moment for low-cost development," Liu once wrote. "With rapid economic and social development, resource shortages will become increasingly prominent, and land acquisition and relocation costs, material prices and labor costs will grow higher.

    "This is an irreversible trend. So the earlier we carry out large-scale railway construction and the faster we push it forward, the lower our costs will be," he said. "Seize the opportunity, build more railways, and build them fast."

    All Aboard China's Fast Trains to Trouble -
     
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  3. nimo_cn

    nimo_cn Senior Member Senior Member

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    Building more HSR is always the right thing to do, the way Chinese are building it might be debatable, but there is no doubt that HSR is the future.

    Sent from Huawei Ascend T8830
     
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  4. cinoti

    cinoti Tihar Jail Banned

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    You came here again to stir fry this piece of 2010 "news", go to China, see how lacking of passenger HRS is. hehe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
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  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It is really uncomfortable bit of news.

    Capitalist propaganda of 03.31.2011 13:08.

    Down with the capitalists!
     
  6. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    Calm down, my friend. You have to understand our indian friends: this is one of the two ways how they get their pride. Another one is dreaming that they WILL do something big! Generally, the more they are laughing, the better China is moving forward.

    If one day, they stop laughing at China's mistake, that is the time you should feel worried.
     
  7. hantangsongming

    hantangsongming Regular Member

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    right! the ticket price for HSR need to be lowered down a little bit more, and this is already an open discussion in China, in newspapers, in forums, on internet..., let's keep doing things and stop arguing.
    we sometimes need to accept some criticisms even they are hostile, it's good for us, we need to think it over.
    we can make the progress through perfecting ourselves, and we needn't care too much about whatever others say if we are strong enough!
     
  8. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Agree. HSR is the way to go.
     
  9. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    2012 has been an amazing year for China and 2013 is promised to be even better。

    Happy New Year!
     
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    We don't do anything big for the sake of doing something big.

    I don't think we have to prove anything to the world.

    We are what we are.

    We build what we require and not what we wish to show the world.

    And even if something is done which is worthy of note, we don't tomtom because if it is worthy of note, others will note.

    I am sure you will understand the difference.

    How about this as a great useful product of China?

    [​IMG]

    The massive seat, which stands nearly 22ft tall and 25ft wide can be turned into a stage for performances at the weekend

    UK's Daily Mail opines - Why the chair was made - other than to show off China's phenomenal economy - is not entirely known

    The link is here:

    Made in China: Motorway collapses 10 months after it is built - but they manage to build world's largest armchair | Mail Online

    We are not saying it, UK is saying it!

    Happy New Year!
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  11. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Look at the map u may get an idea why a direct route from Beijing to Fuzhou is not commercially viable.

    [​IMG]

    To look at HSR from various angles:
    Before Christmas there were options for Shanghai-Fuzhou tour
    1) by HSR - RMB266 2nd-class (ordinary) , travel time 7hrs, 10mins check-in in advance
    2) by air - RMB297 all-in tax included , travel time 1hr 20mins 45min check-in in advance

    So I opted for air booking one-month ahead, which had to lower prices in face of competition from HSR. Besides HSR is more meaningful for short/medium distance trips, like from Shanghai to Hangzhou or Ningbo (1-2hrs).

    After new year holidays I'll travel from Fuzhou to Xiamen down south. Almost fully booked on most HSR voyages, though I attempted on line 5-6 days ahead.

    Additonally - while HSR is mainly dedicated to passengers, more space thus is released for cargo traffic on "average" low-speed trains.

    Thanks for elevating me to the rich. :namaste:
     
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    What Amoy has brought out makes sense wherein in competition with the airways, maybe short distance HSR would not be commercially viable.

    But as a public service, maybe it would have to be run; and so could it be that if the number of such short distance HSR is kept low, then the trains may run at near full capacity and thereby maybe they will become viable?

    Just a conjecture, but maybe the experts could give comments on that.

    The concept of HSR is very good.
     
  13. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    HSR is the way to go for short haul distances. But the option should be there for cheaper and slower mode of transport also.

    Investment in infrastructure should not be looked into just in isolation of the cost of the project. There are many spin offs available to other sectors of the industries, like construction companies, rail stock companies, etc.
     
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  14. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Whenever there's a cyclical economic slowdown or recession Chinese govnmt typically intervenes with massive spendings on infra with its trickle-down effects onto many sectors, incl. steel, cement, locomotive, transport, logistics, tourism...

    Keynesian economics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  15. cinoti

    cinoti Tihar Jail Banned

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    HRS is not an upgraded traditional line, it is totally new and parallel with the existing lines. Beijing-Guangzhou regular line runs at 160 km/h. Slow cars (man che in chinese) which make a stop in every small station maybe less than 160km/h due to the short distance between the stations. Freight trains also use regular lines.

    Green Skin is a nickname for regular passenger rail cars, also known as Fupin Che, meaning poverty alleviation cars, we are still a developing country, we still have lots of people who want to save their hard earned Yuans on travel. HSR is just an additional option, not a replacement.
    With this being said, there are fewer green skins now due to the income increase and subsidy reduction, also due to the increasing dispatches of freight cars on the same lines. The remaining green skins are more used as short distance commute cars between urban and suburban areas.

    some Green skins:
    [​IMG]
    these cars brought back my childhood memory.The last green skin running from Beijing to Shanghai.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Most green skins are not air conditioned. This passenger enjoyed a double seat with price of one though.
    [​IMG]
    some green skins stopped operating, passengers hold the tickets posing for a souvenir picture...
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  16. cinoti

    cinoti Tihar Jail Banned

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    This is a commercial. there are many similar "gigantic brands" every where in the world, welcome to the market-driven economy....

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You talk like a country boy who never leaves your village and thinks world is a strange place.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Being called a peasant is a badge of honour in China since Chinese are really peasants.

    Thank you, but I am not in China right now!

    Bully to you, my honourable Chinese peasant!

    So, the armchair was of an armchair company, right?

    Chinese armchair company like IKEA?
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  18. cinoti

    cinoti Tihar Jail Banned

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    This is how you are revealing your lacking of market culture bit by bit. This is not a commercial run by a furniture company, but an advertisement of a shopping mall, the name of this shopping mall is written on the board by the sofa, "Hengji VIP Shopping Center".

    The sofa will be used as a stage when its seat cushion is removed, competitors can stand on it and those who show most talent can get a prize of a brand new BMW 320i convertible provided by this merchant. All is about a promotional commercial of a luxury shopping center.
    [​IMG]
    this picture shows the judges' seat in front of this sofa style stage.

    links here, you can use google translators to understand more of it.

    恒基名人购物中心诞生—世界最大沙发_网易上海房产频道
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  19. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    O think building airports and local trains are a better option
     
  20. cinoti

    cinoti Tihar Jail Banned

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    China doesn't have a strong manufacturing capacity of passenger airplanes now (even C919 shows a future but we need a lot of time and investment to catch up the engine technology), we spend humongous amount of money each year buying from Boeing and Airbus, we have to sell billions of socks and pants to exchanges one of their Boeing 737s or AB 320s, why not spend the same amount of money to build something we can make.

    The difference lays between our two people is that we crank up our brain to find a way to make it by ourselves, while you dump up your wallet to buy what you think is the quickest cure.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  21. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    But airlines are quicker and nowadays with video conferencing....who want to travel as much as they used to? If I get a job somewhere i mostly relocate to that city as it is more comfortable. Why the hassle of travelling?
     

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