Experts debate merits of high-speed rail

14:39, April 30, 2010      

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Experts argued on a TV talk show Tuesday about whether the construction of China's high-speed railway is the path to a low-carbon economy or simply a waste of energy and resources.

Zhao Jian, professor of Beijing Jiaotong University, said high-speed railways and high-standard networks are not good news for China's economy.

Zhang Lu, a senior rail analyst, responded that the construction of high-speed railways promotes an eco-friendly economy because it consumes electricity instead of coal or gasoline and has almost zero emissions. In addition, the construction of high-speed railways helps to adjust economic structure and promote development.

But Zhao Jian said generating electricity needs power. According to experts' research, when the speed of the high-speed railway in Britain increased to 350 kilometer per hour form 200 kilometer, the energy consumption increased to nearly the amount a plane consumes.

According to Japan's experiences, the high-speed railway has more advantages than airplanes for distances less than 500 kilometers, but is inferior to aircrafts for distances over 1,000 kilometers. And the higher standards of the high-speed railway cause it to not be compatible with the old rail lines.

For example, at least 128 pairs of trains from Wuhan to Guangzhou will be put into operation, but only 28, with only 50 percent of passenger load factor, run along the line.

The Beijing-Tianjin high-speed rail, in a densely-populated area of China, has only more than 100 kilometers and sees 700 million yuan in losses per a year.

Zhao believes China should stop the large-scale construction of high-speed rail and build large-scale road networks.

If the Wuhan-Guangzhou rail is an ordinary one, any transportation bottleneck along this line can be broken. Migrant workers in Guangzhou and the Pearl River Delta will never ride motorcycle to go back home.

China plans to build 18,000 kilometers of high-speed rail by the year of 2020.

By People's Daily Online


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