'Fewer' people use fast train

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The average passenger flow on the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed train has dropped to below 40 percent its full capacity, local media reported yesterday.

When the bullet train started operations last Saturday, official media reported that more than 23,000 passengers took the train on the first day, or about 90 percent its full capacity. However, people seem to have lost interest in the world's fastest, but also expensive line.

On Tuesday, only three high-speed trains from Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province, to Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, ran at 60 percent of full capacity.

Nearly 70 percent of tickets were unsold on the other trains, the Wuhan-based Chutian Jinbao News reported yesterday.

There are 21 bullet trains from Wuhan to Guangzhou every day.

"The first three trains before 8 am and last three trains after 6 pm suffer the lowest load factor, as over 1,000 of the 1,200 tickets were unsold, and the carriages are nearly empty," the newspaper said.

However, officials from the Wuhan Railway Station said it was still too early to evaluate if the passenger load was too low.

The report listed four reasons for the poor market performance of the high-speed railway.

First, it was now off-season, as the year-end is approaching and few people are traveling from central China to look for jobs in the southeastern part.

Second, the price was too high. Few people would be willing to spend 749 yuan ($70) for a first-class ticket (a second-class ticket costs 469 yuan), especially when general trains charge only 240 yuan for a berth ticket.

Third, traffic is inconvenient around the high-speed railway stations, and the fourth reason was that the high-speed railway had just started operating and it needed time to develop the market.

Passengers on the bullet train were happy to reach the destination within three hours, but they said the ticket price would be more acceptable if it was reduced to between 300 yuan and 400 yuan, the report said.

However, official sources said the chances of bringing down ticket prices before the Spring Festival were very slim, the report said.

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