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Anorak | Building Train Sets Doesn’t Make Us Rich: Chinese Bullet Trains Run Empty

Building Train Sets Doesn’t Make Us Rich: Chinese Bullet Trains Run Empty

by | 2nd, August 2011

I KNOW, I know, I bang on about this, but it really is true, building faster train sets really doesn’t make us richer:

No passenger was seen in the whole carriage of a high-speed train on the Beijing-Shanghai line on July 3rd 2011. It has been reported that the high-speed rail service recently suffered a plunge in ticket sales, with trains running at less than 30 percent occupancy in the first- and second-class seats and with business-class carriages almost empty.

Brand new and empty trains rolling across the Chinese countryside at any speed are not useful infrastructure nor are they an addition to wealth.

They’re just a few thousand tonnes of wasted steel being shunted about and increasing emissions to boot.

There are times and places where trains sets are absolutely essential: you can’t get to the sort of urban density of London or Manhattan without a tube or commuter railway system. But other than that, over a few hundred miles flying is better and amazingly, coach travel is less polluting than train travel up to those sorts of distances.

Trains are great for freight too: for people, they’re really 19th century technology and those arguing for them little more than frustrated train spotters who’ve only partially passed the puberty that makes other things more interesting.



Posted: 2nd, August 2011 | In: Money Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink