China's booming high-speed rail

There will soon be more high-speed rail passengers in China than U.S. domestic air passengers.

This is a train station in China, not an airport.

It's only been in service since 2007, but China's high-speed rail network is already causing major changes in how people move throughout the country.

In a fascinating overview of the system, New York Times lays out some impressive statistics. Not only do the high-speed trains serve twice as many passengers per month as China's domestic airlines, but, with strong passenger growth continuing, the number of monthly passengers on the network (54 million) will surpass monthly domestic airline passengers in the United States, the world's largest domestic air market, next year. And while it comes at high costs, the rail network is making workers more productive and transforming the way business is done, Keith Bradsher reports:

Companies are opening research and development centers in more glamorous cities like Beijing and Shenzhen with abundant supplies of young, highly educated workers, and having them take frequent day trips to factories in cities with lower wages and land costs, like Tianjin and Changsha. Businesses are also customizing their products more through frequent meetings with clients in other cities, part of a broader move up the ladder toward higher value-added products.

High-speed rail has become a popular transit option throughout China because it's fast and reliable compared to the domestic airline industry which has some of the worst air traffic delays in the world .

Read more: New York Times

Photo: Flickr/triplefivechina

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