China unveils bullet train between Shanghai and Hangzhou

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HANGZHOU, Jan. 29 – At 7:15 p.m. on January 28, 2007, the first CRH (China Railway Highspeed) train left Hangzhou with nearly 700 passengers, arriving in Shanghai 90 minutes later.

The new bullet trains, or dong he du in Chinese, use multiple engine-powered carriages alongside non-powered units in order to raise travel speeds. Theoretically, the trains are capable of traveling at speeds up to 250 km/h, although they are restricted to a maximum speed of 160 km/h until after April 18, when national rail network will upgrade its speed limits.

A comprehensive rapid rail transportation network connecting Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang – indeed the whole Yangtze River Delta – is taking shape. The new trains will travel between Shanghai and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, as well as Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province. The cities are already well connected, but the bullet trains – and their increased speed – will bring these cities even closer to their regional hub. Surprisingly, the ticket prices for the bullet train and the traditional variety are identical – RMB44 for a soft seat class ticket for a distance of 200 km is a price which would startle users of the Japanese, French or German highspeed trains.

Although the trains don’t currently run much faster than the previous models, they look much faster. Both ends are tapered like a bullet, and the inside is less spacious than traditional carriages, a little similar to the Shanghai’s Maglev. The main target customers are business travelers – the passenger seats all have an integrated table with power for a laptop. There is enough baggage space for suitcases, and the carraiges have well designed onboard washroom and bathroom facilities.

Dezan Shira & Associates maintain an office in Hangzhou and Shanghai, advising foreign investors on legal administration, corporate establishment, due diligence and tax policy in the city. Please contact Helen Ye in Hangzhou and Olaf Griese in Shanghai for more information.