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June 14, 2011

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High-speed rail service ticket prices announced

Tickets on the new Shanghai-Beijing bullet trains will cost from 410 to 1,750 yuan (US$270) with the top fare cheaper than a first-class air ticket on the same route, the Ministry of Railways announced yesterday.

Ninety trains will be in service daily on the route with 63 trains running at 300kph and 27 at 250kph when operations begin at the end of this month.

The fastest train will complete the 1,318-kilometer trip in four hours and 48 minutes.

The slower train will take about eight hours, just two hours less than the current bullet train in service. And this has caused some people to challenge cost-efficiency of the 220 billion yuan project, saying the upgrade is too minor compared to the massive investment.

A second-class ticket on the 300kph train will cost 555 yuan, first class 935 yuan while the most expensive ticket, including sight-seeing seats, will cost 1,750 yuan. Tickets for the slower trains will be 410 yuan and 650 yuan.

First-class plane tickets on the Shanghai to Beijing route yesterday ranged from about 2,200 yuan to 2,800 yuan.

Railway officials previously said that the rail link was designed to operate at 350kph. Vice Minister of Railways Hu Yadong denied that the reduction in speed was because of safety defects in the project. Hu said yesterday the two speeds chosen were to ensure smooth operation and efficient use of the route's capacity.

Hu said running safety was guaranteed as the track had passed a preliminary check and met standards for running at such fast speeds. Further, the ministry has made specific measures and preparatory plans to ensure security.

Last week, an inspection team consisting of 30 engineering academicians and experts gave the green light for the high-speed rail line to open after examining the system.

Hu said the new line will significantly ease the transport strain between the two cities and promote development and coordination between regional economies.

In the initial phase, the new rail will increase cargo transport capacity by 140,000 tons per day and 50 million tons per year, he said.

Officials said yesterday there would no immediate shutdown of current train services on the route. They would still keep 136 regular trains in service.

The high-speed rail link will run through Tianjin Municipality and Hebei, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces.

Railway officials said travelers could buy tickets online by logging on the railway operator's website, Passengers buying tickets online only need to bring along their identification to board the trains and there is no need for paper tickets, officials said.

Hu also said the ministry will implement a new rail operation plan on July 1 that will add 195 pairs of passenger trains to bring the total to 2,128.5 pairs per day nationwide, which will carry 4.01 million people per day, an increase of 9.6 percent from the current capacity.


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