A new article in The Shanghai Daily suggests that up to 60% of China’s airline market may be affected by new high speed rail initiatives, and one in particular that began testing a route between Beijing and Shanghai. It’s approximately 800 miles between the two cities, each with a population well over 10 million, potentially making the line one of the world’s most traveled.
Currently, the bullet trains are undergoing a month long trail process, but are expected to open to the public in late June of this year. In test-runs, the trains were able to reach top speeds of 186 miles per hour, making the travel time just under five hours. Flying between the two cities takes just two hours, so high speed rail doesn’t have an edge in terms of minutes saved.
But time isn’t the only factor in consumer decisions; the average price of an airline ticket from Beijing to Shanghai is roughly $200, and in order to compete with flights, some speculate rail passes will run around $100. According to the report out of China, some airlines have already cut services following train lines being installed between larger cities, like Shanghai and Zhengzhou.
The rail opening in June represents only 10% of China’s larger plans, which are being backed by the government to the tune of almost $115 billion, making the recent $2 billion offered up by the U.S. Department of Transportation look like pocket-change. Of course, China’s population is more than four times that of the United States, making transportation all the more important.