Survey finds 23 pct of respondents harbor high-speed safety worries

09:21, July 21, 2011      

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About 60 percent of 3,406 respondents opposed the cancellation of regular trains to make way for expensive new high-speed trains in an online survey by the Global Poll Center affiliated to the Global Times. Only one pair of regular trains remains on the Beijing-Shanghai line.

About 35 percent of respondents above 18 polled between July 8 and 17 preferred the old trains and demanded improved service on regular trains.

Reducing regular trains creates more space for freight trains, Wang Mengshu, a railway specialist at Beijing Jiaotong University, told the Global Times Wednesday.

"Opening one train for passengers sacrifices three freight trains," he said. "Running freight trains could make more profit while running passenger trains will make a loss."

Asked about changes brought about by the new Wuhan-Guangzhou and Beijing-Shanghai high-speed lines, 31.5 percent of respondents saw no change, while 47 percent said the lines made traveling more convenient. The China railway authorities should raise the service quality of regular trains and increase the number of high-speed trains, about 53 percent of respondents concluded.

"High-speed trains are a new thing in China. They need more adaptation. So people should be tolerant of them," Wang said.

The China high-speed railway network development is "too fast" according to 66.8 percent of respondents. Development had been steady, 24.6 percent agreed while 2.6 percent felt it slow. About 74 percent of respondents said they would choose high-speed rail, but 36.4 percent would not take it because of the expensive tickets. Some 23.2 percent refused to use out of safety concerns.

In total, both ticket prices and safety concerned about 30 percent of respondents.

About 36 percent of respondents with incomes lower than 3,000 yuan ($464) had the largest percentage complaining about the expensive tickets, while 33 percent of people with an income higher than 5,000 yuan highlighted safety.

"Compared to foreign countries, China's high-speed train ticket is the cheapest in the world," Zhao Jian, a railway economy specialist at Beijing Jiaotong University, told the Global Times Wednesday.

"In Japan, the average price of a high-speed train ticket is four times that of China."

High-speed trains require massive investment and that should be reflected in the ticket price, Zhao argued.

A second-class ticket for the 300-kilometer-per-hour Beijing-Shanghai train costs 555 yuan, he said, whereas by comparison the railway line had cost 220.9 billion yuan ($34.15 billion) to build.

There's no safety threat, said Sun Zhang, a railway expert at Tongji University in Shanghai.

"If the trains encounter problems, they will slow down and stop automatically to ensure the safety of passengers," Sun told the Global Times Wednesday.

Source: Global Times
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