Wednesday, November 25, 2015   

High-speed trains back on track

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Shenzhen high-speed railway line opened just before Christmas without the usual official fanfare.

Although a milestone in the development of China's high-speed rail system, media coverage was relatively subdued compared with previous openings of other links.

But a friend who tried the new service said passenger response was rather more enthusiastic and didn't appear to have been affected by last July's fatal crash and derailment in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.

As the Shenzhen link connects to Guangzhou, passengers from Hong Kong are now able to access the entire high-speed railway network once they clear the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint.

And with the bullet train system gradually reaching all the main cities, rail transportation in the mainland is becoming more convenient by the day.

This is especially important for Shenzhen - with a highly mobile population, it places emphasis on people moving, which is reflected in the rapid development of its airport.

The high ridership of the new line, meanwhile, has set my friend thinking about buying mainland high-speed rail shares as their prices fell sharply following the Wenzhou tragedy.

He bases his optimism on the belief that the central government won't stop investing in the high-speed rail system.

While positive developments will eventually be reflected in the investment market, there are several other factors to consider in order to determine whether it's a good time to buy stock.

But then, China does
need a gigantic mass transport system to cope with the needs of its population of 1.3 billion, as air travel alone will never be adequate - or at least affordable - for the average citizen.

There is nothing wrong with developing high-speed rail.

However, the key issue is safety.

Just as we don't throw away the baby with the bathwater, we shouldn't write off the high- speed railway system because of one terrible accident. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily

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