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High-speed Trains in China Compete with Airlines

updated: 2010-06-09

The expansion of China's high-speed rail network will mean cheaper, and more convenient travel. But it could be a blow to the domestic aviation industry.

Under the plan by the Ministry of Railways, China will build a total of 16 thousand kilometers of high-speed railway lines by 2020. Thirteen thousand kilometers of that will be finished within three years.

For short and mid-haul routes, high-speed trains will be an ideal substitution to planes. They'll have closer connection to terminals, and a larger volume of passengers. But best of all, they'll be cheaper.

A second class fare on the Zhengzhou to Xi'an line is 240 yuan. An economy plane ticket for the same route costs between 250 and 300 yuan.... excluding the fuel surcharge and airport-construction fee.

The fast train can carry 4,000 passengers every day. A flight can carry a little more than 100 people.

However, experts say the fast train's advantage is limited on long-haul journeys. The market share for high-speed trains dips 30 percent, if a journey takes more than 3 hours.

The distance between main transport hubs like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan is between 1,000 and 2,000 kilometers.

It takes 5 hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai by the fast train, and 9 hours from Beijing to Guangzhou.


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