The fastest EMU on the Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed railway takes one hour and 57 minutes to complete the entire route while the slowest high-speed rail train takes one hour and 58 minutes. A first class ticket on the high-speed train costs 233 yuan while a first class ticket on the the EMU costs only 112 yuan. As the number of passengers is small, the railway department will increase the number of nonstop high-speed trains.
According to sources on July 6, the railway department announced that the Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed railway, only in operation for one week, will implement the new train working plan starting on July 11. The railway department will increase the number of nonstop trains on the Shanghai-Nanjing route to 13 and resume the 11-day (including that day) ticket pre-sale period.
During the previous adjustment, the railway department suspended the sale of high-speed rail tickets on and after July 11. The Shanghai Railway Bureau announced that the purpose of the indefinite suspension of ticket sales was to "optimize" service, but in fact, according to sources, it seems that the adjustment was caused by the very small number of passengers. People on the outside have complained that the price of high-speed rail ticket is too expensive while the time saved by taking it is negligible.
The time is not reduced while the ticket price is increased
The Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed railway officially began operation on July 1 and the fastest train took 73 minutes to arrive in Nanjing. As there are only two nonstop high-speed trains on the Shang-Nanjing high-speed railway, most high-speed trains frequently stop at stations along the route. Therefore, the high-speed trains’ speed advantage is not readily noticeable, compared with the old EMU, but the ticket prices are still higher.
Reporters learned that before the EMUs were replaced by the high-speed rail trains, the fastest EMU D3009 of the Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed railway only took one hour and 57 minutes to complete the entire route while the slowest high-speed train took one hour and 58 minutes. Currently, most high-speed trains need one hour and 40 minutes to complete the entire route while most EMUs need two hours and 20 minutes. On average, the high-speed train is only 40 minutes faster than the EMU. A first-class ticket on the high-speed train costs 233 yuan and second-class costs 146 yuan, while a first-class ticket on the EMU only costs 112 yuan and the second-class costs 93 yuan.
Simply, the first-class ticket price of the high-speed rail train on the Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed railway is 108 percent higher than that of the old EMU; and the second-class ticket price is 146 yuan, about 57 percent higher than that of the EMU.
The ticket price is high and the number of passengers on the trains is low
The No.1461 to 1462 “green train,” traveling between Beijing and Shanghai, officially ended a historic period at the end of June.
Travelling from Beijing to Shanghai for only 88 yuan is now history. Train No.1461 to 1462 was always the cheapest train and the only green train on the route from Beijing to Shanghai. The ticket price for the green train is only 88 yuan before the upgrade where the green trains were replaced by air-conditioned trains, and after the upgrade the ticket price increased to 158 yuan, an increase of nearly 50 percent. Railways throughout the entire country implemented the new train plan beginning July 1. Meanwhile, according to the deployment of the Ministry of Railway, all green trains travelling to Beijing, Shanghai and Huizhou were replaced by air-conditioned trains.
Today, the high-speed trains have undoubtedly become the symbol of the construction miracle on China's railways. However, there is also controversy regarding the high-speed trains.
According to sources, ticket sales for the high-speed trains has not been promising. Only about 100 tickets were sold for the “hottest” G7001 and the attendance was less than 10 percent.
One of the major reasons for the low attendance is probably the excessive prices. A netizen named “King Style 10” analyzed that it took two hours and 20 minutes and cost 0.309 yuan per kilometer and 0.664 yuan per minute traveling from Shanghai to Nanjing before the high-speed railway was launched, while after the high-speed railway is launched, the time the journey took decreased by nearly 18 percent while the prices increased more than 20 percent and almost 57 percent, respectively.
Because the distance is too short, the high-speed train cannot reach its maximum speed of more than 300 kilometers per hour for any length of time. The speed of the high-speed train can reach 350 kilometers per hour in only two sections of the route, both of which are less than 12 kilometers long. Therefore, the time cannot be substantially reduced and this has also, to a certain degree, reduced the attractiveness of the high-speed trains for passengers.
"If a person travels backwards and forwards between Shanghai and Nanjing during one week, the costs will be more than double," said “King Style 10.” Look at different methods of transportation, the difference in cost between a high-speed train and express train from Nanjing to Shanghai is about 47 yuan and the journey will be longer, between three to six hours; it will only take three hours by high-speed buses and the ticket price is only 70 yuan.
Netizens experience "riding a high-speed railway"
A netizen named “szmyq” also posted his experience, “I took the G7189 traveling from Suzhou to Shanghai on July 4, it was the first time I experienced a high-speed train. There was no difference in the carriage, the services and the speed of the same harmony EMU. The only change is the ticket price. The price of a second-class ticket increased from 26 yuan to 41 yuan and the price of the first class ticket increased from 31 yuan to 65 yuan. I experienced ‘being a high-speed railway’ just like that.”
A netizen named “guohuili1981” even directly summarized several “accusations” towards the high-speed trains based on his first experience: first, the high-speed train is uncomfortable, because people may get tinnitus when the train is accelerating or decelerating; second, the high-speed train is not convenient, because the train station was in the suburb of Shanghai where there are few buses and taxies; third, the high-speed train is not a timesaver, because it only saved 10 percent of time compared to the old EMU; forth, the high-speed train is not cheap, because the ticket price increased more than 60 percent; fifth, the high-speed train is not all equal, because half of the seats are first class seats; and sixth, the high-speed train is not sufficiently public, because the number of the trains has not been significantly increased.
Response from the railway department
Netizen “Shen Bin’s Wire Pole” even wrote a poem titled “Starting Off from Baidicheng in Early Morning”: I say good-bye to the Huangpu River under the rainbow, and it took one day to arrive at Nanjing Jiangning. The train stops at many stations, and that is how easily spent 600 yuan.
However, the railway department has increased the number of trains running to 13 at one time, six times the previous number. We have to say that this is a direct response to public opinion.
The railway department also responded to the highly controversial issue of “ticket price.” “The railway department is extensively taking the public’s opinion into consideration. Currently, there is not a unanimous voice on the ticket price. Some people believe the ticket price is too high and some believe the price is moderate, because the amount that passengers can afford is different. The ticket price of the high-speed railway should be exposed to the test of the market. Therefore, it is too early to make a conclusion,” said Wang Yongping, spokesman of the Ministry of Railways, while traveling on the first G5000 train travelling from Shanghai to Nanjing on the Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed railway.