Friday, February 18, 2011

High-speed rail in trouble in China

Wuhan – Guangzhou High-speed Train

Today’s NY Times
tells us there’s big trouble in China with its HSR system—shortcuts undermining quality control, high ticket prices, corruption, crushing debt:

A 2010 analysis by China Minsheng Bank, reported this week by Caijing, found that the [rail] ministry’s debts equaled 56 percent of its assets and could reach $455 billion, or 70 percent of its assets, by 2020. In his last months on the job, Mr. Liu had begun an aggressive program to deal with the debt by selling stakes in the railway to investors like large state-controlled banks.

The Minsheng report suggested that the high-speed network may remain a money-loser for the next 20 years, despite heavy use. Ticket prices — several times those for a conventional train — have led to a backlash among some Chinese. The timing of Mr. Liu’s dismissal may be significant: He was fired at the end of China’s Lunar New Year holiday, when trains are jammed, tickets are scalped at exorbitant prices and passengers are angriest.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration thinks the US should spend $500 billion on a high-speed rail system!
See this also on China's HSR.



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