High-speed rail a vital social good

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-15 17:33:01

The Chinese railway system launched a new route schedule Wednesday, expanding high-speed rail service to 28 municipalities and provinces.

Over the past several years, China's high-speed railway lines have played an important role in creating new jobs and improving the economies along high-speed routes.

However, given the high cost of high-speed line construction and operation, many consumers have complained bitterly about the price of high-speed travel, which can be considerably more expensive than traveling by a conventional train.

With pressure mounting from the public, rail operators cannot set their prices based solely on their operating expenses. On the other hand, making prices broadly affordable could result in huge losses.

Some argue that operators should raise ticket prices to cover costs and leave low-income earners to make due with lower priced travel options.

Such claims overlook the fact that high-speed travel has become an important public utility, one which should not necessarily be priced based on market conditions. The government should consider the public's interests when it comes to setting fares. Judicious government subsidies should be offered to make sure that more ordinary people can benefit from fast, efficient train travel.

The author is Zhou Junsheng, a commentator.

Guangzhou Daily

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