Imagine driving from Washington, D.C. to Chicago or London to Berlin and then turning around and coming back. It would be a long journey — more than 10 hours and roughly 700 miles each way. But China’s new high-speed rail could complete one of these journeys, roundtrip, in less time than it currently takes to drive one way.
Spanning 2,298 kilometers (1,428 miles) from the Chinese capital Beijing in the northeast to Guangzhou — a major metropolitan region — in southern China, the new high-speed rail line is now taking customers on the eight hour journey at a sustained maximum speed of 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour), according to China Daily.
But the new train isn’t without controversy. According to the New York Times:
Debt to finance the construction has reached nearly 4 trillion renminbi, or $640 billion, making it one of the most visible reasons total debt has been surging as a share of economic output in China, and is approaching levels in the West.
Each new high-speed train, however, does make more room on older tracks for freight trains. The Times reports that each passenger car taken off older freight lines makes room for three freight cars.
Though it does come at a cost to passengers. The new high-speed rail line costs about $139 for a one-way second-class seat. The cheapest seat on older passenger trains are about $40.
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