China inaugurates bullet train, the longest high-speed train in the world
The new train will link Beijing and Guangzhou (2,298 km) in less than ten hours, eight when new technical changes will be made. However, tickets are expensive and only one dining carriage with 38 seats was available for about 1,000 passengers. For experts, the new train will boost the domestic economy.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China's government marked the birthday of Chairman Mao by inaugurating the longest high-speed train (2,298 km) in the world, linking Beijing to Guangzhou in less than ten hours. Travelling at an average speed of 300 km per hour, the bullet train represents a step forward in the modernisation of China's transport system. However, past safety concerns and shortcomings in other industries, like the food industry, have already fuelled controversy over the new train.
So far, the train has had glowing reviews. One journalist said he would choose the train over the plane since it is easier to reach the railway station in Beijing with the subway. Getting to the airport with luggage and ticket is more complicated. The train solves many problems.
The new line is "one of the most technically advanced in the world", said Zhou Li, head of the Transport Ministry's science and technology department.
Safety remains however the train's Achilles' heel. Accidents and management problems emerged following the inauguration of other lines, raising questions about the reliability of China's railways. Even yesterday, the train was delayed by an hour because of snow in Henan.
Carriages are comfortable and quiet and seats are comfortable. But in its maiden voyage, the train had only one dining carriage with 38 seats with four attendants for about a thousand passengers. Some passengers had to wait for 2-1/2 hours.
With 865 Yuan fare (US$ 140), travelling on the bullet train is twice as much as on the old wagon-lits.
The train goes through four provincial capitals: Shijiazhuang (Hebei), Zhengzhou (Henan), Wuhan (Hubei) and Changsha (Hunan) as well as 20 medium-sized industrial cities.
According to the train's backers, the line will boost economic activity for the whole country.