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China Government The Almighty Buck Transportation Technology

China's Yearly Budget For High-Speed Rail: $100 Billion 230

An anonymous reader writes "For all of those wondering about China's massive high speed rail network, it costs some serious cash. Running high speed lines across the nation is expensive — to the tune of $100 billion dollars a year. This covers the cost to maintain the network, build it, and pay all of the staff. The problem is, corruption has reared its ugly head. The network itself has had its share of problems, with people dying as a result. There is also the problem that many of Chinese poor make so little money they can't afford to ride it. The sad fact is that so much money is being spent, no one can even keep count."
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China's Yearly Budget For High-Speed Rail: $100 Billion

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @11:00PM (#41712281)

    Where's the scandal?!

    $100B divided by 2 million employees equals $50,000 per employee -- high for China, maybe, but matches the MEDIAN male income in the U.S.

    Given that the $100B actually includes much more than employee salary, like, uh, the material costs of BUILDING the railroad, and trains, and stations, etc, the figure seems rather like a bargain.

    "The problem is, corruption has reared its ugly head." : When does that not happen to some extent?

    "The network itself has had its share of problems, with people dying as a result." : This happens everywhere.

    "There is also the problem that many of Chinese poor make so little money they can't afford to ride it." : Maybe China is planning for the future, maybe?! You know, like when their middle class is comparable in size to that in other developed nations?

    "The sad fact is that so much money is being spent, no one can even keep count." : Then what is the "$100 Billion" figure?! Sheesh! Make up your mind!

  • Central Planning (Score:1, Interesting)

    by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @11:30PM (#41712411)

    Central Planning does NOT work.

    The key to progress in society with as little strife as possible is evolution, not revolution.

    As with every other system of complexity, society can most effectively evolve (that is, adapt to the needs at hand) when there are robust processes of variation and selection (what some call the "Free Market"), which implies the localization and decentralization of the power structure; centralized power—by its very nature—inhibits the process of evolution by quashing variation and stifling selective forces. There is no such thing as an Intelligent Designer; it is foolish to put your faith in a "noble" bureaucrat, who gazes into his crystal ball and then—at everyone else's expense—pushes and pulls naive levers and buttons based on what he thinks he sees.

  • Re:What Is It ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vakuona ( 788200 ) on Friday October 19, 2012 @11:34PM (#41712425)

    Wrong on many levels. The West Coast Main Line (WCML) is forecast to hit capacity soon. In fact, they have had to reduce stops, remove stops etc, to keep the line running with any reasonable frequency. So a new line is needed. If you are building a new line, there is no good reason to not build HSR line. The costs will be fairly similar anyway. The high speed element is something nice, but not the main point of building a new line.

  • by slashdyke ( 873156 ) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @04:35AM (#41713273) Homepage
    I can't comment about California, but the Chineese goal is quite good. HSR to connect South East Asia to the Middle East and Europe. There is lots of trade between those regions, that right now goes over the sea. Slow and limited. HSR that could traverse the continents in 2 ro 3 days, would be great for trade, and much more economical. The goal is a lofty one. How it is being carried out may be a different situation.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:49AM (#41713473) Journal

    Is it? That's $100,000/rider, which sounds like a lot, but that's also including a lot of capital investment. In the UK, commuter rail tickets can cost over £5000 ($8000) [bbc.co.uk], so that's about 8% of the cost, but that cost only has to cover maintenance, not construction. For an infrastructure project on this scale, break even is typically meant to be somewhere in the 10-25 year mark. If they're still constructing infrastructure, then that's quite plausible.

    For comparison, the channel tunnel cost £9.5bn to build, and finished in 1994. Eurostar made its first operating profit in 2007 and the only reason it is nominally in the black is that they effectively sold most of the company to the banks that loaned them the money. They're making something like £150m/year in operating profit (most of which goes towards financing their debt), and so it will take them a very long time to make back the initial investment. The banks are making around a 2.5-3% annual return on investment in terms of interest on the debt, but they also own the majority of a profitable company with a very valuable asset, so they have a very good long-term investment.

    More importantly, a large piece of infrastructure was built and is getting regular use. Last year, around 17 million people used the channel tunnel (plus a load of freight), and that has a huge economic impact on Britain and France. It's now feasible for someone who works in London to go to Paris or Brussels for a meeting and be back the same day, for example. But if you'd done the same sums that you just did for its 1994 then you'd have seen a £9.5bn investment for 0.3 million passengers. That's £31,500/passenger, or around $50,000/passenger. In other words, about half the per-passenger cost of the Chinese high speed rail network. Clearly a waste of money...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 20, 2012 @07:59AM (#41713915)

    You don't understand what T-Bucket is saying. He's saying that when a Chinese worker assembles a phone for $17/day, in a shift of 14-16 hours, living in a dorm with 15 beds in a 12x12 box, and then that phone is sold for $400 in America, netting China $8 of that $400... that that $8 is stolen from the US. That, really, that $8 belongs to America... and it was produced by overcharging Americans for Chinese goods.

    China then takes those unjustly earned funds, and loans them back to America.

    T-Bucket would never personally work for $1/hr, nor would he consider that a fair wage for his work. But when someone in China works for $1, that is $1 stolen from America.

    In other words, T-Bucket is a fucking moron.

  • by portforward ( 313061 ) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @09:27AM (#41714205)

    I live 10 minutes from work, 5 minutes from my wife's school, 3 minutes from my son's school, 2 minutes from the grocery store and 5 minutes from church. I live 20 minutes from a major airport and 25 from another one. I am positive that you have heard of the city I live in. This year I ate grapes from my own grape vines, peaches from my own peach trees, asian pears from my own trees, and citrus from my own tree and a vegetable garden. It isn't huge, but I can see the sky above my head.

    My wife is from Europe, and I have lived in two European capital cities for a year and half, and pretty much lived a month in New York City. Living in a shoe box surrounded by other shoe boxes is hell. I don't know what is going to happen 10-15 years from now, let alone 100, but what you describe sounds awful, like one of the worst types of dystopia. The funny thing is that the first thing most Europeans do when they get here is buy the biggest Buick or Mercury Grand Marquis they can find.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982