High-speed rail in China
A showcase line, but throttling back
Jun 30th 2011 | SHANGHAI | from the print edition
THE heart of China’s national railway policy has been the pursuit of speed. And having built the world’s longest high-speed network from scratch, this week the country proudly launched its showcase project, the 1,318km (820-mile) Beijing-Shanghai line. Running at speeds of over 300km an hour, the sleek electric train cuts the travel time between China’s two most important cities by nearly half, to four hours and 48 minutes.
The service is designed as a rival to air travel. Indeed, at Beijing South station, the ultra-modern facility resembles an airport. The other terminus, meanwhile, actually is at Shanghai’s domestic airport. But that means travellers lose the benefit of a downtown arrival, often touted as an advantage of trains. Even on intermediate stops, stations are far from urban centres.