China should not expand bullet train network
It is unwise for China to further expand its high-speed rail network as most of the trains are operating at heavy losses
Beijing: It is unwise for China to further expand its high-speed rail network as most of the trains are operating at heavy losses, an expert has said even though Chinese bullet trains have made a big splash abroad including India.
The government should develop regular railroad networks and urban mass transit systems instead of throwing money away on bullet trains, Zhao Jian, said a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University.
It is unwise to continue building high-speed rail lines and trains as the current network has a hard time getting enough passengers and is operating at a loss, he was quoted as saying by Caixin Online.
He said existing high-speed rail lines, except those connecting Beijing and Shanghai, will run in losses for a long time and that puts a huge burden on the already heavily indebted China Railway Corp., the operator of the country’s railroads.
A big chunk of the new allocation will be spent on high-speed rail lines and bullet trains which does not make economic sense, he said.
His comments came after Premier Li Keqiang visited a construction site on July 3 for a new high-speed rail line linking Shanghai and Kunming.
Li’s visit has received much attention in the media amid recent signs that government is leaning again on infrastructure, especially rail development, to shore up the flagging economy.
The fast expanding network with billions of dollars of investments sparked interest in India, which is experimenting with a semi bullet train between Delhi and Agra and plans to construct a high speed train to connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
China’s high-speed bullet trains now make up more than half of the country’s railway services.
According to China Railway Corp, the State-owned rail operator which introduced a new service schedule to meet the booming demand from the public, of the total 4,894 trains being operated in the country, 2,660 are high-speed bullet trains running at speeds of more than 200 km per hour.
China has the longest high-speed railway network in the world, with more than 10,000 km in operation.
It is also actively promoting Chinese high-speed railway technology to other countries, including Turkey, Thailand and the UK.
In April, the government hiked the planned investment in railroad fixed assets this year from about USD 105 billion to at least USD 133 billion and increased the number of new projects by 20 to 64.
Last year’s official reports said Chinese railway owes USD 43 billion debts to various banks.