Beijing, China the Chinese authorities tested its much vaunted high speed rail link today, under much fanfare and official scrutiny.
Happily for all concerned the 186mph journey spanning 820 miles (1,318km) and extending across 7 cities and provinces between Shanghai and Beijing glided without a hitch into Bejining at 9.01am.
“Pride of China”
The rail link follows the government’s trend of upward investment in infrastructure within China, focusing on large scale projects with tangible results. The whole project was completed in 39 months, relatively short considering the scale of the task facing Chinese engineers.
Naturally communist party officials vaunted the successful venture, ”This is the pride of China,” said He Huawu, chief engineer at the ministry of railways. The project cost the Chinese government 221bn yuan, approximately £21.4bn.
The transport link aims to tie the political hub of Beijing with the financial powerhouse of Shanghai. Historically travel in China, particularly between these two important and relatively close cities has been fraught with inefficiencies. The new rail link halves the journey between the two great cities of China to a mere 4 hours and 48 minutes.
China’s rigidly controlled economy has been under consistent critisim for corruption for decades, and this venture was not without controversy. The scheme was examined by the state audit office which found repeated failures to account for lost funds and inconsistencies.
It found that nearly $30million of funds had been embezzled or misapporirated in three months of construction alone. On top of this the railway minister, Liu Zhijun, was dismissed this spring for “disciplinary violations”.
The Chinese government has stated that it plans to run 90 trains on the service a day and further invest £19 billion on upgrading the railway network this year alone.
It has sparked a surge in optimism “We couldn’t even have dreamed of this. It’s hard to imagine China’s railways could develop this fast,” said the deputy secretary of the Zhengzhou railway hub.
In the face of a weakening global economic climate the Chinese authorities were resolute in their funding of communication infrastructure “We will not slow down the pace, and there will be no cut in investments.” Said Hu Yadong, vice minister of railway.
The Chinese ambassador has even recently suggested that Chinese companies could help the UK build its new rail projects, saying they provided “the knowledge, expertise and experience” required to achieve these large scale projects.