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April 21, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Slower bullet trains add hour to Beijing route

A HIGH-SPEED train journey between Shanghai and Beijing is expected to take five hours when the service starts in June, compared to the previous estimate of four hours.

Top speed on the route, which was to have been 350 kilometers per hour, will be cut to 300kph, the Ministry of Railways has decided.

There had been public concern over safety at the higher speed although the trains, designed and built in China, broke world speed records during testing.

"It's the right thing to do," said Sun Zhang, a professor with Shanghai Tongji University and a rail expert.

Sun said that the 300kph top speed would be "ideal."

Another expert told the Beijing Daily newspaper that energy consumption increased dramatically for every extra 10kph above 320kph.

Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu told the People's Daily that the slower speed "will offer more safety" and allow for more variation in ticket prices.

Trains on the 1,318-kilometer Shanghai-Beijing journey should see two top speeds in service, 300kph and 250kph, with cheaper prices expected on the slower route.

A similar slow-down policy will operate on other high-speed routes, such as the Shanghai-Hangzhou and Shanghai-Nanjing services, the railway authority said.

Meanwhile, some seats in the luxury VIP suites on the Beijing-Shanghai trains will be removed and replaced by normal ones, adding more capacity. The railway operator previously said that the new high-speed trains would have suites and seats comparable to those on flights, comments that sparked concern that ticket prices would be too expensive.

The operator has yet to announce prices although there is widespread speculation they will be in the 500 to 600 yuan (US$76-92) range.

Ticket prices on current, slower, trains cost from 158 to 409 yuan.

The regular trains will remain in service after the bullet trains start. There has been speculation that regular services might be cut when the fast trains began.

Passengers complained that they felt they had been forced to take high-speed trains after Shanghai-Hangzhou and Shanghai-Nanjing routes opened last year and regular train services were cut. Some regular services resumed soon after following passenger complaints.

Railway officials say the high-speed network will grow to 13,000 kilometers of track by the end of this year.

The Shanghai-Beijing line will also be the test ground for an Internet ticket booking system and a ticket purchasing policy which will require passengers' names.


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