From Chinese press

Train travel should be cheaper

Updated: 2011-03-31 08:58

(China Daily)

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The recent announcement by Minister of Railways Sheng Guangzu that tickets for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, to be opened in a few months, will cost less that air tickets has relieved many people's worry, says an article in Qilu Evening News. Excerpts:

Fierce competition among airlines has made flying cheaper. On the other hand, train journeys have become more expensive with the introduction of high-speed railways. That's why Sheng's assurance to people that traveling on Beijing-Shanghai high-speed trains will be cheaper than flying on the same route is a welcome relief.

From deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee to ordinary citizens, everyone has questioned the rationality of having high-speed trains if most of the people cannot afford to travel on them.

Railway authorities have increased the number and speed of trains in recent years, but many passengers still cannot travel by trains when they want. Apart from peak season when hundreds of millions of people travel, high cost of tickets is the main reason for that.

Now that the country has entered the high-speed-railway age, the railway authorities seem less worried about passengers' affordability and more concerned about the technical aspects of trains.

Minister Sheng's announcement also indicates that tickets for high-speed trains will be more flexible. At the annual sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC National Committee last year, many deputies and members said the railway authorities should offer discounts, just like airlines do, to meet the needs of people of different income levels.

The high cost of building and maintaining high-speed railways is to some extent responsible for the high price of tickets.

It is important that the authorities fix ticket prices keeping in mind the income level of most of the people.

Hopefully, Sheng's announcement will lead to more people-friendly moves by the railways. If that happens, then the railways should be given credit for changing its "arrogant" ways.


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