What’s the difference between a high-speed and a very high-speed train?
Probably a question that the Shanghai and Hangzhou transport planners are bound to ask themselves when deciding whether to build a traditional “à la TGV” high-speed line or a magnetic levitation line (MAGLEV) to connect both cities. One part of the answer may be provided by Givoni (2006) with a 3-dimensional graph including cost, compatibility and speed.
Source: Givoni, M. (2006) The development and impact of the modern High Speed Train. Transport Reviews, 26(5): 593-612.
Before even thinking of high-speed lines, one may wonder how many Chinese can actually afford to travel at high-speed, particularly when new lines sometimes replace conventional lines all together.
For now, the Ministry of Railways and the Reform Commission are worried about the unprofitable aspect of Maglev. Maybe social re-distribution concerns should also come into the picture and inform investment choices in railways.