Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 23:22 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 23:22 | SYDNEY

Trains: China and Australia compared


Fergus Hanson


22 May 2012 10:01

I visited Hangzhou recently for a summit about ediplomacy, and got to experience China's high-speed rail system first-hand.

I'm no train geek, but you couldn't help but be impressed. The photo below is of the ticket counter in Hangzhou – I walked in and my heart sank. There were 30 lines and each was at least 20-deep (yes, I counted). Six hundred people in line before me – how long would this take? From a long and tortured experience of train travel in Australia, I was anticipating a very, very long time.

Well, as it happens, I timed it. Exactly six minutes. And for the pleasure of travelling at 300km/h in 45 minutes to Shanghai on a train that kept Swiss-time, it cost $11.65.

For anyone who has done the Sydney to Canberra commute (or, here in the US, the Washington-New York route), it's enough to make you cry.