Trial runs of Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway to begin

The long anticipated Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway will start a one-month trial operation on Wednesday, before its formal launch in late June.

The railway authority has also decided that the fastest train service between the two mega-cities will make an extra stop in Nanjing (capital of Jiangsu province), according to an official with the transport bureau under the Ministry of Railways.

The Beijing-Shanghai high speed train will run at speeds between 155mph – 185mph and provide three services: “non-stop” (which actually will stop in the old imperial capital of Nanjing), a medium-fast service stopping in provincial capitals and a “full service” stopping in 24 stations along the line.

The Beijing Shanghai line is a 1,318 kilometres (819 mi) long high-speed railway that connects two major economic zones in the People’s Republic of China: the Bohai Sea Rim and the Yangtze River Delta. Construction began on April 18, 2008, and a ceremony to mark the completion of track laying was held on November 15, 2010. The line is scheduled to be put into commercial service on June 20, 2011

Officially ticket prices have not been announced. However based on the fare prices of the existing 665-mile Wuhan-Guangzhou high speed railway, the standard-class fares on the 820-mile Beijing to Shanghai line will range from $80 to $170, depending on the speed of service booked.

The project is expected to cost 220 billion yuan (about $32 billion). An estimated 220,000 passengers are expected to use the trains each day, which is double the current capacity. During peak hours there should be a train every five minutes. 1,140 km, or 86.5% of railway is elevated. There are 244 bridges along the line. The 164-km long Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge is the longest bridge in the world, the 114-km long viaduct bridge between Langfang and Qingxian is the second longest in the world, and the viaduct between Beijing’s Fourth Ring Road and Langfang is the fifth longest.

The average commercial speed from Beijing to Shanghai was planned to be 300 km/h, which would cut the train travel time from 10 hours to 5 hours.

High Speed Rail Vs Air Travel

Previous experience shows that airlines will suffer. After the Wuhan-Guangzhou line opened in December 2009 nearly two-thirds of flights within a 370-mile radius of Wuhan were cancelled. As with the Beijing-Shanghai line, the running time was almost double the flight time, but passengers preferred to avoid the stress of airport check-in and security. Currently there are 30-40 flights a day between Beijing and Shanghai, costing £80-£130 ($130-200) one way.

Which will be faster, train or plane?

High speed train: less than five hours for nonstop train, using the fast 185mph service which is nearly half the current train journey of 9hrs and 49m. The high speed train’s terminal station is at the more centrally located in Hongqiao station.

Flight: 2hrs and 10m, but allowing for check-in, security clearances and the now-inevitable air-traffic control delays, the flight can take up to 3 hrs 30 mins, not including the journey to and from the airport. Most flights also land at Shanghai’s Pudong airport which is further away from the center of the city.

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