Friday, December 7, 2012

On the Rails Again in China

When two months ago I traveled from Shenzhen to Guangzhou, I rode on the fastest class of high-speed rail in China--identified with the letter "G" for long-distance lines or with the letter "C" for lines between nearby cities. When I traveled from Guangzhou to Zhuhai I rode on the slower class of high-speed rail in China--identified with the letter "D". I have also taken many other trips on high-speed rail, such as Beijing to Tianjin, Luoyang to Zhengzhou, and Wuhan to Yueyang on G/C lines and Shenyang to Haerbin, Shangqiu to Xuzhou, and Wenzhou to Xiapu on D lines.

I first revealed my affinity for high-speed rail last year in a guest blog post for James Fallows--"Ride Like You Want to in China". Since then, I have grown to better appreciate the debates over whether it represents a wise investment by the Chinese government and, even if it is, how to resolve problems of safety and corruption. For two related in-depth articles, see "Boss Rail" by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker and "China Advances High-Speed Rail Amid Safety, Corruption Concerns" by Ian Johnson in National Geographic. But regardless of these issues, I have undoubtedly benefitted from high-speed rail. Not only has it enabled me to more quickly and comfortably reach a variety of destinations, but it has encouraged me to see parts of China I may have never visited otherwise.

Yesterday, I continued my high-speed travels and departed Changsha on a D train. As with some other trips, I spotted nearby construction of new high-speed rail lines. In this case, I believe most of what I saw represents what will be the G class Shanghai-Kunming High-Speed Railway. I'll share a few of the photos from yesterday's train ride. Based on the times, they were all taken in the provinces of Jiangxi and Zhejiang. Despite the train window and the train's speed, the photos provide a clear sign of high-speed rail's continued expansion in China, even where "slow" high-speed rail already exists.

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