China is aiming to be railbuilders to the world, so their own showcase new rail link between Beijing and Shanghai is important not just for its own sake but as a showcase to the world.
The first journey for the train left today with carriages full of reporters, railway ministry officials and the managers of the compnaies that built the line.
The new superfast train cuts the usual travel time for conventional rail services in half. The link between the capital in the north and the country's main business center is part of a planned nationwide network which got a big push forward in the country's very green 5 year plan announced earlier this year.
The trains will allow for speeds of up to 190mph( 330kph).
Complaints have been quite noticeable about this service -the major ones being the quality of construction and the high cost of the fares.The Railways Minister has also come in for criticism.
But the benefits a high service rail link will bring China are enormous.
The envisaged roll out of high speed rail across this hugely populous nation is massively ambitious but you just know they are going to make it happen, as they have with so many of their hugely ambitious projects in every part of China.
The entire system is on course to be completed by 2020. Work crews are so vast in number it makes your eyes water- sometimes as many as 100,000 per line and the ambition is to build 10,000 miles of network in just 6 years.
The transformation of the railways in China is but one part of a supremely ambitious green plan for the whole country that will potentially see China become the world's first green superpower. And just as they have become roading construction experts and providers to countries such as Africa, their expertise in rapid mass transit is likely to be exported to those parts of the world who have not acted on the opportunities that arise from the problems.
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