Mainland China moved by trains, not planes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 3:30am

The report about how China's domestic air carriers are feeling the pinch from competition with high-speed rail was inevitable ("Mainland airlines fly into headwinds from high speed trains", February 20).

I have been warning for years that railways are the sensible way to go and that ever-expanding aviation is doomed because of its environmental destructiveness.

It's a simple equation. Aviation pollutes on a far greater scale than railways, both in terms of noise and air quality. Electricity required for running trains can increasingly come from greener forms of power generation which China is progressively rolling out.

On the other hand, aircraft have no alternative to the burning of increasingly expensive fossil fuels, which not only pollute our air but contribute significantly to global warming and climate change.

Moreover, as airports and air corridors become more congested, aircraft are compelled to fly longer deviating routes or be held in holding patterns waiting for take-off and landing slots.

Smog caused by too much vehicular traffic in gridlocked cities also increasingly disrupts flights, causing passengers to suffer nightmarish delays.

Add to this passenger inconvenience as airports move further away from city centres and it all adds up to taking a flight within China to most destinations being simply a bad choice. This is especially so when you know there is a high-speed train leaving from a downtown station, which will depart and arrive exactly on time except in the most unusual of circumstances.

The train will also deliver you to the centre of the city you are travelling to instead of to an airport 40 kilometres or more out of town, and without that irritating walk and then long wait to find out if your suitcase has been lost.

Shanghai to Hong Kong will soon be about an eight-hour rail journey when Hong Kong's high-speed rail link opens.

The last time I flew to Shanghai from Hong Kong, it was well over seven hours door to door with all the unpleasantness and hassle of getting to and passing through unfriendly airports.

As I spelled out in a letter to these columns last year, the third runway project for Chek Lap Kok is totally unnecessary and will prove to be another expensive white elephant.

Better to kill off this project now before millions more dollars are wasted on planning this polluting monstrosity.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin


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