China plans world’s 2nd largest high-speed rail lines in Chennai-New Delhi route and the 1,200-km long New Delhi-Mumbai.
High-speed rail lines and trains are in news for quite sometime. Stung by the worst-ever economic growth in 25 years, China is making an aggressive attempt to woo these countries and sell its HSR technology. While India has tied up with Japan for its first high-speed train to run on a 505-km track between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, China is keen to work on other proposed routes. It is carrying out feasibility studies for high-speed rail lines on the 2,200-km Chennai-New Delhi route and the 1,200-km long New Delhi-Mumbai corridor.
It is clear that quality and speed are the mainstay of the CRC, specifically, the high-speed rail line (HSR). After developing the world’s biggest HSR network – at 19,000 km it is longer than all of world’s high-speed lines put together – China is now looking for opportunities in neighbouring countries, including India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.
India accepted Japan’s offer for its first high-speed train because of easy loan terms offered by Tokyo. While the Chinese may not offer concessional and easy loan terms, they claim their expertise and technology is compatible with that of India and other Southeast Asian countries. Zhao said it’s not just about the terms, it’s also about the speed with which the project is executed.
The issues and problems that China overcame while developing its HSR are similar to what India presently faces. “I am aware of the ongoing debate in India – whether it makes financial sense to go in for expensive HSR when there are so many problems plaguing the conventional railway system. Also, whether the HSR will ever earn profits considering the high price of tickets,” Zhao said. He admitted that China relied heavily on non-fare revenue, too, for earnings from the railways.