High-speed raillery

Plans to cover the country with HSL routes seem to have come under scrutiny since the ousting of the head of China’s Ministry of Railways (Liu Zhijun) on corruption charges.

For sure speed is expensive – building high-speed lines (HSL) can be 3x as expensive as conventional lines – and high-speed trains can only compete with airlines until a certain route length (max. 750 km). HSL also raise the question of social justice since they are paid for by the State budget but only serve the interests of a limited portion of the population.

So far more tracks for HSL was laid in China in the past 10 year that all tracks installed in the West for 50 years. Close to 9000 km (10% of the total network) are already in service and 17’000 km are under construction. Given China’s current drive to establish its technological prowess one can wonder whether social and financial concerns will prevail.