Authorities defend high-speed railways

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The Ministry of Railways HAS refuted a Financial Times report alleging bullet train development was "unaffordable and impractical," but they also called for strategic planning of ultra-high-speed line construction with other forms of transportation.

The Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed rail, with a design speed of 350 kilomters per hour, is seen amid a trial operation October 20.

The Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed rail, with a design speed of 350 kilomters per hour, is seen amid a trial operation October 20.

China is confident with its ultra high-speed railways and the program is developing in a healthy and promising way, Wang Yongping, a ministry spokesman told the Legal Mirror Wednesday. The ministry was not available for further comment.

"China has world-leading technology in the construction of bullet trains that combines advantages such as high speed and economy," Wang Mengshu, a professor at the Tunnel and Underground Engineering Research Center at Beijing Jiao-tong University, told the Global Times. "Bullet trains are the solution to speed acceleration in China's railway sector."

Shi Qixin, a professor with the Institute of Transportation Engineering at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that although there are voices challenging the accelerated construction of the high-speed rail network, such a system is needed in the long run because of strong economic growth and regional development.

Bullet trains can reach a speed of 350 kilometers per hour. The transport capacity of the Chinese railway has improved 50 percent, and the bullettrain system in China is the largest in the world, boasting 6,500 kilometers of track, People's Daily reported last month.

The Ministry of Railways has signed a deal with 31 cities, which will help boost railway track construction serving 90 percent of the country's population. Reports of low ridership on the bullet-train service between Shanghai and Hangzhou earlier this month, and complaints over high prices, challenged official figures.

A first-class ticket for the Wuhan- Guangzhou high-speed train costs 780 yuan ($115), and a second-class ticket costs 490 yuan ($71). Currently, the regular trains between the two cities offer ticket prices ranging from 56 to 289 yuan.

"The ridership will not be so satisfying at the beginning, but compared with other transport means, like the highway system, bullet trains are very energyfriendly," Wang said Wednesday.

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