Express trains to replace CHR

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A total of 25 round-trips on high-speed railway trains running between Shanghai and Nanjing will be cancelled from July 1, when express trains begin operations between the two cities, said a spokesman for the Shanghai Railway Bureau.

Several local media reported complaints from passengers who said the cancellation of China high-speed railway (CHR) trains will force them to opt for express trains, which are more expensive but not necessarily more convenient.

At a speed of 301 km per hour, it takes only 73 minutes for a direct express train to run from Shanghai to Nanjing. The quickest CHR train takes 56 minutes longer.

Despite the high speed, express trains are not winning everyone's favor because of their higher ticket price and low frequency.

"It will cost me about 10,000 yuan ($1,470) more a year if I take the express train each time I travel," said 42-year-old Ma Lianjiang, who makes two round trips every week between Shanghai and Nanjing for business.

A ticket for a second-class seat in an express train costs 146 yuan, 53 yuan more than in a CHR train.

"I also find that some so-called express trains take even longer than CHR trains," Ma said.

Only two direct express trains run between Shanghai and Nanjing. Other express trains may stop at up to 21 stations between the two cities, taking about 120 minutes to cover the entire trip, according to itineraries of Shanghai-Nanjing express trains.

About 100,000 tickets for the Shanghai-Nanjing express train were booked between June 25 and June 29, said a spokesman for the Shanghai Railway Bureau on Tuesday.

But a previous report by the Nanjing-based Yangtze Evening News said up to 90 percent of the seats in most Shanghai-Nanjing express trains between July 1 and 4 remain vacant.

Many passengers take the long-distance coaches that are cheaper than express trains and a quicker alternative to other trains, said a spokeswoman at the Shanghai long-distance coach station.

The Shanghai Railway Bureau spokesman said: "It takes a while for passengers to understand the advantages of express trains.

"The Shanghai-Nanjing express train is new, and people need time to get used to it and gradually begin favoring it."

He dismissed rumors that railway authorities cancelled the CHR trains to force passengers to take the express trains.

"The cancellation of the 25 round-trip CHR trains was made in accordance with the changes to the national railway operation routes map," he said. "Passengers can still choose other transportation alternatives between the two cities."

He added that the bureau is considering measures to promote the express train by selling monthly passes to frequent passengers.

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