Official denies mass suspension of high-speed railway construction

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 9, 2012
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The construction of China's high-speed railway was not suspended en masse and the country's achievements in train transportation should not be overlooked despite some high-profile mistakes, a senior railway official said Friday.

Development of key rail projects will be guaranteed and continued, said Wu Qiang, director of the transportation unit of the Ministry of Railways.

"Investment in railways will total 500 billion yuan (US$79.37 billion) this year, and the money used for railways under construction is assured," Wu, a deputy to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, said while participating in this year's parliamentary session.

Wu said China's high-speed railway has a promising outlook.

In 2011, a total of 440 million passengers were transported through the country's 18 high-speed lines, almost double the figure in 2010, according to the official.

The average occupancy rate of high-speed trains was 60 percent, rising to 80 percent during the peak time of holidays, claimed Wu.

"Generally speaking, high-speed railways are worth developing as a more environmentally-friendly and more efficient industry," he said.

"However, we need to continuously adjust and improve their development to make them more scientific and sustainable, because China's high-speed network is growing very fast."

The country's construction of high-speed lines suffered a major setback last year when two bullet trains collided in east China's Zhejiang province, leaving 40 passengers dead and 172 others injured.

Sporadic breakdowns following the incident compounded widespread worries over the safety of the network.

Wu said China's high-speed rail technology is maturing after six speed hikes, during which a lot of expertise was accumulated in regard to lines, traction and power supply.

"The overall development of China's high-speed railways should not be denied because of some mistakes," Wu said.


Wu also said the ministry is developing a new online ticketing system, which is expected to be operational by the Spring Festival in February next year.

During this year's Spring Festival holiday, the online ticket system frequently crashed or was inaccessible as it failed to cope with demand, but Wu said its replacement is more efficient, reliable and user-friendly.

Notably, it will allow more payment methods.

Wu said the new ticket system is under development and the Ministry of Railways will solicit opinions on it from the public via the Internet.

Train tickets sold online and via telephone account for about one fifth of total sales, according to Wu.

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