The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway has got the green light
from the central government and construction on the long-awaited
project is expected to start soon.
According to a notice posted yesterday on the website of the
National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the top economic
planner, the State Council accepted the feasibility study last
No more details were given, except for the railway's length of
A source with the Ministry of Railways told China Daily
yesterday that work on the project will "surely begin before the
end of this year", without specifying a date.
Earlier reports said the project would use high-speed wheel
track technology instead of magnetic levitation.
With a speed of up to 350 km per hour, the railway will shorten
travel time between Beijing and Shanghai from the current 10 hours
to less than five.
The project has been on the drawing board for more than a decade
with work expected to begin last year and be operational by 2010 -
but was postponed.
Insiders said the central government wanted to act cautiously on
such a high-cost project.
Shanghai-based China Business News earlier quoted insiders as
saying that the railway ministry's initial estimation of 130
billion yuan (US$17.3 billion) would not be enough; and estimated
the figure could exceed 170 billion yuan (US$22.6 billion) due to
rising real estate prices and resettlement costs.
Another report on China Economic Net (www.ce.net) quoted insiders as saying
the project cost is likely to exceed more than 200 billion yuan
(US$26.6 billion), taking into consideration the increase in the
price of raw materials and labor costs as well as other countries'
expenditure on building high-speed railways.
The mega project has attracted the attention of France's Alstom,
Canada's Bombardier, Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries and
Germany's Siemens, all vying to provide technology.
It was not announced which technology will be used but Minister
of Railways Liu Zhijun said last year that the ministry prefers
using indigenous technology.
Earlier reports quoted experts as saying the fare might be
between 600 and 700 yuan (US$80 to US$93), about half the list
price of an air ticket.
Currently, passengers pay 453 yuan (US$60) for a seat, with the
train running at a maximum speed of 250 kph.
(China Daily October 10, 2007)