China’s first-of-its-kind high-speed railway is celebrating two years of operation and nearly 20 million passengers served, including an increase from 5 million in its first year to 15 million in its second, as reported by China News Service.
What makes this small bit of China’s nearly 28,000 miles of high-speed rail unique is that it’s privately owned, at least partially. A consortium led by the Fosun Group owns 51% of the line, according to a 2022 International Railway Journal report.
This roughly 165 miles of track in eastern China is the first private-public partnership (PPP) funded rail in the country, and it cost about $7 billion to construct, China Daily has reported. It runs between Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang Province, and Taizhou, connecting dozens of tourist attractions along the way.
Given that the trains can reach speeds of nearly 220 miles per hour, per People’s Daily Online, it’s no wonder that so many people have been choosing the rail. That’s good for commuters and for the planet.
High-speed rail produces a fraction of the pollution of cars or planes — in addition to requiring significantly less fuel. Europe also has thousands of miles of high-speed rail, with plans to expand in the near future.
The United States is looking to do something similar at home. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021, has allocated $8.2 billion for 10 major passenger rail projects across the country, including high-speed rail projects connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The deal also includes upgrades for rail systems in Virginia; North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. That’s on top of a program to guide passenger-rail development in 69 rail corridors across 44 states.
China built its massive high-speed rail system in less than 20 years, revolutionizing travel. There’s reason to believe the U.S. can do the same if it remains committed to embracing high-speed rail.
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