Although the railway authorities have not released the operation statistics, it is not a secret that China’s high-speed rail loses money and has a low load factor, a measure of the percentage of seats that are filled. China now operates five high-speed routs: Beijing-Tianjin, Wuhan-Guangzhou, Zhengzhou-Xi’an, Shanghai-Nanjing, and Shanghai-Hangzhou.
Getting people to ride the rail is the problem. Although China is the most populated country, not many people ride the high-speed rail. Sun Zhang, a professor at Tongji University, pointed out, “Although the speed of China’s high-speed rail is already number one in the world, our per capita GDP ranks below 100 in the world.” Many people still feel it is expensive. In 2009, the nation’s railway system transported 1.525 billion passengers. On average, every Chinese rides the train a little over once a year. This is a low number compared to 80 rides for the average Japanese in one year.
Source: Xinmin Evening News, June 25, 2011.