China's launch of key high-speed railway imminent
China's much-anticipated high-speed railway linking Beijing and Shanghai is set to open this month, despite safety concerns after a recent corruption scandal.
China's much-anticipated high-speed railway linking Beijing and Shanghai is set to open this month, the government said Monday, shrugging off safety concerns
after a recent corruption scandal.
One-way ticket prices will range between 410 yuan and 1750 yuan ($63 and $270) subject to further adjustments, he added, compared to about 1,300 yuan for a flight between the two cities.
Hu said the trains would run between 250 and 300 kilometres (155 and 188 miles) per hour on the $33 billion new link, although the line is designed for a maximum speed of 380 kph.
The speed is in line with a nationwide directive made public in April that said all high-speed trains must run at a slower pace than previously announced -- no faster than 300 kph -- to make journeys safer.
This followed a major corruption scandal in February that raised concerns over the costs and safety of China's high-speed rail links.
Then railways minister Liu Zhijun was dismissed after an investigation into "serious disciplinary violations" -- a term that usually results in criminal charges.
He had allegedly taken more than 800 million yuan in kickbacks on contracts linked to China's high-speed rail network.
A month later, China's state auditor revealed that construction companies and individuals had last year siphoned off 187 million yuan in funds meant for the Beijing-Shanghai link.
But the new railway is still highly anticipated, as a journey between the two cities may take only four and three quarter hours -- two hours less than the fastest current trip by train.
The Beijing-Shanghai flight takes about two hours. But travel to the airports is in itself time-consuming, and the busy air route is often subject to delays and cancellations.
China has invested heavily in its high-speed rail network, which reached 8,358 kilometres at the end of 2010 and is expected to exceed 13,000 kilometres by 2012 and 16,000 kilometres by 2020.
(c) 2011 AFP