BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Before the operation of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway two weeks ago, people were expecting it would deal a severe blow to airlines. And various air carriers offered big discounts on tickets between China's two biggest cities to hedge the risks. But frequent train malfunctions are causing it to lose its competitive edge.
Changzhou City in east China's Jiangsu Province was luckily chosen to be one of the stations on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway. It reduces travel between Changzhou and Beijing to no more than four hours, making trains quite competitive against air with its lower price. However, frequent recent malfunctions are making more and more passengers go for air.
"I think it has technical problems, and still needs improvement."
The flight from Changzhou to Beijing witnesses a lowest flight load of about 27 percent. But this number climbed to 64 percent, with frequent railway malfunctions. For the time being airline operators are not worried about competition from rail.
Zhao Kaijun, vice manager of Changzhou Airport, said, "The malfunctions of the railway due to bad weather will influence some passengers. I believe some business passengers will return to flights"
The disappointing performance of the railway has also encouraged air carriers to push up prices. Previous large discounts are no longer available. And it will still take time before high-speed trains makes the most of its potential.