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China's High-Speed Trains Compete with Airlines

Date: 2010.09.26 Editor: Evelyn Shi

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. 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.