China moves key high-speed rail launch by a day

China has announced that they can’t wait much longer to show off its much-anticipated high-speed train link between Beijing and Shanghai. They moved its debut forward by a day to June 30.

According to AFP, the train link has been in operation on a trial basis since mid-May. The link “has passed safety assessment and currently is fully qualified for the launch of service” the railways ministry said in a statement released late Thursday.


Will red-blooded American pundits weep when they see how much more advanced China’s transportation system is?


No reason was given for the change.


Passengers can purchase tickets Friday on, which is a website run by the ministry. They can also get tickets at railway stations and agencies across the country, the statement said  


A flight between Beijing and Shanghai usually means spending two hours in the air. But getting to the airport is very time-consuming. Also the busy Beijing/Shanghai air route often has delays and cancellations, making train travel a less stressful option.


The construction of the high-speed $33 billion railway began in April 2008.


The price for a one-way ticket will be between 410 yuan and 1,750 yuan depending on further adjustments, vice rail minister Hu Yadong said last week. It costs about 1,300 yuan for a flight. So travelers will be able to save money immediately.


The railway ministry said that the trains would travel between 155-188 miles per hour on the Beijing-Shanghai link, though the line is designed for a maximum speed of 236 mph.


The speed of the train falls in line with a national directive made public in April that stated all high-speed trains must travel at a slower speed than what was announced before — no faster than 186 mph — to make journeys safer.


The former railways minister, Liu Zhijun, was fired in February after he allegedly accepted than 800 million yuan in kickbacks on contracts linked to the high-speed rail network. This of course raised concerns about the safety of the lines.