The debate about China’s high-speed railways seems never ending. After the Beijing–Shanghai high-speed railway started passenger services on June 30, the Ministry of Railways canceled some ordinary trains and there were more complaints about the high price of tickets.
In fact, whether the price of the tickets is high or not depends on whether you can afford them.
For those that can, the Beijing-Shanghai line offers significant time savings over ordinary trains, cutting the journey time between the country’s two main cities to just four hours and 48 minutes.
For these people, the high-speed railway is a better choice than a flight or ordinary train.
Compared to the cost of tickets on the old Beijing-Shanghai route, the cheapest high-speed tickets are only 410 yuan ($63), which is just 100 yuan more than the cost of a sleeper on the old trains.
But of course, there are still a lot of people who cannot afford a high-speed ticket, even the cheapest. The Beijing-Shanghai route has been called the “golden passage” in China, because it links China’s two most prosperous cities and there are large numbers of people coming and going, whether to do business, find a job, sightseeing and visiting friends. But Beijing and Shanghai are also magnets for migrant workers.
Migrant workers will take the train, but usually not a high-speed train, as the price of the high-speed tickets is too expensive for them.
The high-speed railways are a good thing, not least, because of the country’s large population. The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line is expected to carry 80 million passengers a year, which is double the current capacity, and which will free up the old line for the transportation of goods.
However, even the good news cannot hide the bad facts. The high-speed railway damages the interests of many people.
For these people, their only need is cheap, not convenience or speed.
We don’t oppose the construction of the high-speed railways and no doubt it will be a perfect thing in the future of China. We oppose high-speed railways because it deprives some ordinary people of their rights now.
If the price of high-speed tickets came down, everything would be fine.
I hope there will be a day that I can live in my hometown and go to work to big city by high-speed railway in the morning.
Ma Xin is an editor of M4.cn and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.