China's rail development on faster track
www.chinaview.cn 2009-12-26 16:33:08   Print

A driver operates a high-speed train at the high-speed railway maintenance base in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009.

A driver operates a high-speed train at the high-speed railway maintenance base in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
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    WUHAN, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway with the world's fastest train journey at a 350-km-per-hour designed speed, started operation Saturday.

    Two passenger trains rolled out the Wuhan Railway Station and Guangzhou North Railway Station at about 9 a.m. and reached the terminals within three hours, compared with the previous 10 and a half hours.

    The service between Wuhan, a metropolis in central China, and Guangzhou City, a business hub in the southern Guangdong Province, was put into trial operation on Dec. 9, reaching a maximum speed of 394.2 km per hour.

    A 600-member delegation from Xianning City boarded the train at10 a.m. at Xianning North Station to promote tourism and attract investment in Guangzhou. Nearly two hours later, they had to take off winter coats on arrival of Guangzhou where the temperature was about 20 degrees Celsius at noon.

    "We have long been waiting for the service to start," said Zheng Zengjin, manager of Yaochi Hotel of Xianning and a delegation member. "Previously, we had to suffer the tired and crowded journey as the train ride took more than 10 hours."

    "It is really good news for us to have so comfortable and fast ride," he said. "As the travel becomes more frequent, we expect closer cooperation between the Pearl River delta and less developed regions such as Xianning."

A high-speed train runs into Wuhan Railway Station, in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009. The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which boasts of the world's fastest train journey with a 350-km-per-hour average speed, is debuted on Saturday.

A high-speed train runs into Wuhan Railway Station, in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009. The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which boasts of the world's fastest train journey with a 350-km-per-hour average speed, is debuted on Saturday. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
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    CHINA SPEED

    While traveling by train in China meant overnight tired and bored journey in the past decade, speed spells the future of train travel as the government has launched a major upgrading of the nation's overstretched railway system.

    It spent more than 20 years lifting the speed of passenger trains from 43 km per hour from 1978 to 100 km per hour in 2001, and it took only nine years to triple it to 350 km per hour, said Xu Fangliang, general engineer in charge of designing the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed line.

    The average speed of the high-speed railways is 243 km per hourin Japan, 232 km per hour in Germany and 277 km per hour in France, he said.

    China will build 42 high-speed passenger rail lines with a total length of 13,000 kilometers in the next three years, covering more than 90 percent of the population.

    By 2012, trips from Beijing to most provincial capital cities would only take one to eight hours, said Wang Yongping, the Railway Ministry spokesman.

    The high-speed rail services from Beijing to Hong Kong are expected to open in three years, cutting the journey from 23 hours to 8. The one-way trip from Shanghai to Hong Kong will be shortened to six hours from the current 18, he said.

    Zheng Zengwu, a 46-year-old train driver at the Wuhan Railway Station, has seen the evolution from steam locomotives and diesel-driven ones to the high-speed trains in nearly 30 years of career.

    "I'm proud China's railway technologies are developing so fast," he said while experiencing the train as a national model worker. "It's so steady and comfortable."

    "Without the rapid economic development, it's impossible China could build such high-speed railways," he said.

A high-speed train stops at the high-speed railway maintenance base in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009.

A high-speed train stops at the high-speed railway maintenance base in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
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    SMALLER GAPS

    The high-speed trains do not only shorten the distances between cities, but also change the speed of China's economic growth, said Wang Xiaoguang, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

    China, a nation with vast geography and worried about the wide income gap between its highly developed coastal areas and the lagging interior, is looking to railways to help spread the wealth, he said.

    China has launched the strategy of developing the west and invigorating the central region for about 10 years, thus reducing social and economic imbalances.

    But the initiative has been hampered by slow and expensive transport of passengers and cargo. However, "things will change in the future as fast-train lines may help reduce these problems," Wang said.

    A high-speed rail line linking Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province and Xi'an, the ancient capital in the northwest, will be opened soon.

    "This will encourage more coastal industries to invest in the northwest where resource and labor costs are lower," Wang said.

    Experts also said the upgrade to a high-speed network will allow the old lines to be used for cargo, thus helping the inland to transport its resources and products efficiently to the eastern ports.

    "In the traffic peak periods such as the Spring Festival when the Chinese go home for family get-together, the railway bureaus have to suspend freight transportation to guarantee smooth passenger flow."

    "The bottleneck is expected to be eliminated. As high-speed passenger trains are easing the traffic pressure, the railways will focus more on cargo transportation," he said.

Wuhan-Guangzhou bullet train link to hit airlines hard

    BEIJING, Dec. 26 -- Competition between airlines and rail operators will further hot up on Saturday thanks to the launch of China's longest high-speed train link between Wuhan and Guangzhou.

A high-speed train runs into Wuhan Railway Station, in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009.

A high-speed train runs into Wuhan Railway Station, in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
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    The line stretches more than 1,000 km and will slash the travel time from Wuhan, Hubei province, to Guangzhou in Guangdong from 10 hours to just three.  Full story 

A high-speed train stops at the high-speed railway maintenance base in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009.

A high-speed train stops at the high-speed railway maintenance base in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Dec. 26, 2009. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
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Editor: An
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