How could China develop high-speed trains ahead of India which had a larger railway network until the '90s?



Manish Sharma, Living in Shenzhen, China since 2015. Have seen little bit of China.

Because we Indians don’t do something until its necessary or absolutely necessary.

We don’t show-off and spend money just like that.

I loves trains, I have traveled by trains in India (Rajdhani, Shatabdi, local, metro, sleeper, chair car, with ticket, without ticket). Indian trains are really optimized and utilized at great efficiency.

I have traveled by train in China as well, rather enjoyed it (G train also known as bullet train, K train, MagLev) , but recently it started to pinch my pocket. They are expensive, way expensive.

For comparision, what you pay in India and in China for around 1000 km journey.

270 INR -In India, just seat - 168 RMB in Chinese train, hard seat - which is 1623 INR

439 INR - Non-AC Sleeper - Chinese don’t have non ac sleeper, I have not seen so far.

1928 INR - Second AC Rajdhani- 333 RMB in Chinese train, sleeper with ac - which is 3208 INR. If you choose for softer bed in Chinese second AC, price will go 4912 INR.

(Chinese train doesn’t give food, Rajdhani does)

And in Chinese bullet train, price for 1000 km is (I checked for Ximen to Shanghai)

449 RMB in second class. (4325 INR) (Flight cost little more than this)

715 RMB in first class. (6887 INR)

1396 RMB in business class. (13447 INR)

Chinese has great train network, awesome bullet train network. Chinese has longer bullet train network than rest of the world combined. Pretty impressive.

But, in India, do we need bullet trains? I guess no, not yet. And not if they are this expensive. And Indian trains are running at great efficiency, I mean they run to their capacity. Chinese train, half empty most of the time.

Me with Maglev and Indian flag in Shanghai, which go till 431 km/hour (world’s fastest train train in regular commercial service). Easily any country’s pride (loved it). But for 30.5 km long track, spent 1.2 Billion USD, back in 2002, And 72 million USD in annual loss to operate it.
















译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46784.html    译者:Jessica.Wu



Visakh V Krishna, believes in the Indian growth story

The Short Answer: Strong will, Centralized Decision making, Beijing Olympics, Economy growth rate.


The Long answer:


The Japanese built and inaugurated the Shinkansen right before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.(Tokaido line).That was back in 1964. Fast forward to 2001, China was having the highest growth rate in the major economies and awarded to host the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Major sporting events like Olympics are ideal platforms to showcase your country's strength and influence (soft power). (Delhi got a serious improvement to its infrastructure before the 2010 Commonwealth games)


Between 2000 and 2012, China undertook a massive expansion of its high speed rail networks (Look at the graph). Today it leads the world with the largest high speed rail network with 16000 kms (built in almost a decade). The second biggest network is in Spain with 3100 kms. The sum total of high speed rail networks in all other countries is somewhere over 13000 kms. Still less than China.



source: UIUC RailTEC


To add to this, they have a network of conventional long distance railway network (like in India) as well.


China has a long term plan with the travelling time from Beijing as the key focus. (Travel time circles as shown in the map below:)



So, the plan is to keep building HSR networks until the travel time from Beijing to the farthest major city in the country is within 24 hours. In the mean time, these networks are only further going to stimulate the economy through the flow of goods and people. An ambitious plan of such a scale can be done in a short time only if you have:

1.The manpower to put into the project.

2.The demand for such a huge network.

3.The ability to acquire land and gain clearances with minimum delays.

4.The required technology.

5.A deadline in the immediate future. (atleast for the kick start)






Technology transfers in 4 levels catering different requirements:

(See the diagram with the timeline details)

source: UIUC RailTEC





Before 1997, the Chinese railway system were no better than Indian Railways in anyway. The average speed of the trains were around 45 km/h. India was actually ahead with around 50 km/h with trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi steadily maintaining 70-80 km/h.


Over the time, China rigorously invested in High speed rail technology setting up research centres ,(Chinese Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS))  and State owned manufacturing companies over the time with the progress in technology transfer. Many of the models that run on the track are based on the initial car designs imported from companies like Bombardier and JLR.for e.g. (CRH1A & Bombardier Regina), (CRH2C and Shinkansen E2).

随着时间的推移,中国积极研发高铁技术,建立研究中心(中国铁道科学研究院)和国有企业,并在技术转让方面取得了进展。许多在轨道上运行的车型都是基于庞巴迪等公司引进的最初设计。例如(CRH1A和庞巴迪Regina), (CRH2C和新干线E2)。

Right now, China is undergoing the second boom of Highspeed rail network expansion:



High-speed rail in China


India's Railway system in the past two decades did not go through any major improvements on the scale as visible for China. In fact, Highspeed Rail System was one of the most discussed election promises by the new go nment in 2014. TheIndian Railways is burdened by a huge mountain of debt and FDI was recently announced for the sector by the current Railway minister to allow foreign firms.


A dedicated research centre to study the feasibility for High Speed Rail in India was setup only in 2014 in IIT-KGP.


The first time China started asking serious questions about the possibility of a highspeed rail network between Beijing and Shanghai, it was the 1990's. India is doing it for Delhi-Mumbai now in 2010's.


Instead of jumping directly to speeds above 350 km/h , it would be better to adopt the 4 stage plan as followed by China. This way, the dividends from increasing speeds will be realized more effectively and the money will be spent cautiously over the time period reasonably.


Hopefully by 2030, we would have crossed 10000 kms of highspeed rail network. But for that to happen we should keep asking the right questions till that happens.



Lup Ma, differentiating Thought

Most likely the answer for both cases is external politics. While India's internal politics do take more time due to its investment in the de ratic process while China has taken the approach of the wise one knows best over the citizenry (ask Winston Churchill has been remarks about common folk); ultimately in both countries, things do get done.



Hotoun Tan, works at Nokia Networks Siemens

America was also a pioneer in developing rail transportation and yet doesn't have any high speed trains. All the initiatives to build HSR in America has failed (California) or are ending in failure (Texas) before it begins. Even existing low speed infrastructure is crumbling and somehow is not being fixed.

India is a robust de acy with a robust legal system just like America. It is too costly and difficult (compensation and legal disputes) to acquire land. Populist politicians can also hold up HSR development and incite opposition for various reasons.




Daniel Cohort, Big Data Director in China

 China could mobilize much more social resources than India could in a very brief time. This means, once the go nment goal is set to be economic development, China can grow faster than India when other conditions are equal. High-speed rail is just one example of how China emphasizes the importance of good infrastructures.



Mohammed Kalam, works at India

China's forte is planning, determination, perseverance and implementation.

It shows in its industries where it can manufacture a huge range of cell phones, from the iPhone to a cheap budget phone.  It shows in its arms industry, where it manufactures many aircrafts, fighters, albeit copies of Russian ones, its own tanks, vehicles, and missiles.

So the same is demonstrated in its high speed rail network.





Aditya Sagar, studied at Blinn College

Short answer-loyality towards country




Chinese railway in early 1990s was built by Chinese. Indian railway in early 1990s was built by British.



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