“It’s not about com­pet­ing for a slice of the cake with air­lines. It’s all about how to make a big­ger cake.”

Shanghai Daily - - BIZ INSIGHT -

at­ten­dant for a domestic air­line. Chen said she chose her new job as “it’s more sta­ble com­pared with that on planes” and she could be sure of reg­u­lar vis­its home to Suzhou.

One prob­lem along the route was the poor WiFi ser­vice and black­outs of mo­bile phone sig­nals when the train passes through its many tun­nels.

The rail op­er­a­tor has promised to try to rec­tify those prob­lems by the end of this year.

The air- con­di­tioned car­riages are perfect for snooz­ing be­cause the ride is quiet, es­pe­cially af­ter re­porters fin­ish­ing typ­ing and pho­tog­ra­phers had taken all their pic­tures.

For those who can’t sleep, the scenery can be a pleas­ant di­ver­sion even though it slips past quickly.

The trip from my front door in Shang­hai to the down­town rail sta­tion in Bei­jing took al­most six hours.

I would take the train in fu­ture as the shorter trav­el­ing time is an at­trac­tion and I would not have to worry about the de­lays which hap­pen fre­quently on flights.

But I would say the tick­ets are too ex­pen­sive in a coun­try where there are mil­lions of peo­ple on rel­a­tively low in­comes who need to travel.

In a re­cent sur­vey of more than 3,300 peo­ple in Shang­hai, al­most 90 per­cent said the bul­let train prices, rang­ing from 410 yuan to 1,750 yuan, were too high.

The rail­ways min­istry has high ex­pec­ta­tions that the new Shang­haiBei­jing line will give a lift to na­tional bul­let-train ser­vices. The ques­tion re­mains: Will trav­el­ers choose the train over air­lines?

Many Chi­nese com­plain that high­speed rail tick­ets are com­par­a­tively ex­pen­sive in coun­try where train travel has been the sta­ple trans­port for peo­ple on low in­comes, es­pe­cially for mi­grants who work in cities but visit their fam­i­lies back home dur­ing the hol­i­days.

“It’s not about com­pet­ing for a slice of the cake with air­lines,” said Sun Zhang, a pro­fes­sor from Shang­hai Tongji Univer­sity who is also a mem­ber of a rail­way author­ity think tank.

“It’s all about how to make a big­ger cake.”

Min­istry spokesman Wang Yong­ping said the rail­way ex­pects to make a “slight profit mar­gin” from the high-speed ser­vice, but that stage wouldn’t be reached im­me­di­ately.

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