Forget the slow boat: the Chinese are planning to build a rail network that will have passengers traveling from London to Beijing in just two days! The following is from the Daily Telegraph:
China is in negotiations to build a high-speed rail network to India and Europe with trains that capable of running at over 200mph within the next ten years. The network would eventually carry passengers from London to Beijing and then to Singapore. It would also run to India and Pakistan … A second project would see trains heading north through Russia to Germany and into the European railway system, and a third line will extend south to connect Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.
Passengers could board a train in London and step off in Beijing, 5,070 miles away as the crow flies, in just two days. They could go on to Singapore, 6,750 miles away, within three days. “We are aiming for the trains to run almost as fast as aeroplanes,” said Mr Wang. “The best case scenario is that the three networks will be completed in a decade,” he added.
Wow! And they seem to be very serious:
China is in the middle of a £480 billion domestic railway expansion project that aims to build nearly 19,000 miles of new railways in the next five years, connecting up all of its major cities with high-speed lines. The world’s fastest train, the Harmony Express which has a top speed of nearly 250mph, was unveiled at the end of last year, between the cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou. Wholly Chinese-built, but using technology from Siemens and Kawasaki, the Harmony Express can cover 660 miles, the equivalent of a journey from London to Edinburgh and back, in just three hours.
Book me on the opening train!
as a former china expat, usually my viewpoint is: “if china wants to do something, china WILL accomplish it.” they can be pretty singleminded about things.
on this issue however, I bet funding will run out. china’s in a bubble, and when the real estate market, one of the main industries fueling their economic growth, collapses, money to spend on getting iron to china more quickly (let’s face it, passengers are a gimmick: the rail line is for the transport of raw materials) so china can build more infrastructure and empty office/luxury flat towers will fizzle. I suppose we’ll see.
I suspect you are not far from the truth. It’ll be interesting to watch.