The company that operates the Beijing-Shanghai section of China’s high-speed railway network has submitted a formal application to float on the stock market, and in doing so revealed details of its lucrative operation. According to the filing, published by the China Securities Regulatory Commission on Friday, Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway, which operates the 1,300km (807 mile) line, booked a net profit of 9.5 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) in the first nine months of the year. That represents a margin of about 38 per cent on its revenue for the period and makes it more profitable than both Apple which makes the iPhone, and Kweichow Moutai, which makes China’s most famous brand of baijiu, the world’s most popular spirit. The rail company booked a full-year net profit of 10.2 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) in 2018, up more than 13 per cent from 2017, according to the filing. It said it was seeking a listing on the Shanghai stock market to raise funds to buy other railway projects in southeast China’s Anhui province. The plan suggests that China State Railway Group, which owns a 50 per cent stake in the high-speed operator through its investment arm, wants to use its share of the profits to shore up less profitable lines. The profitability of the Beijing-Shanghai line – on which trains run at speeds of up to 350km/h (217mph), cutting the journey time between the two cities to 4½ hours – highlights the success of the high-speed rail network in affluent regions of China where demand for luxury and comfort is high. A first-class ticket for a one-way trip costs 933 yuan (US$130), or about the same as a plane ticket, though standard seats are cheaper at 553 yuan. In 2018, the line carried 192 million passengers, or about 6 per cent of all those who travelled by high-speed rail in the country. Since the start of this year it has been operating at an average occupancy rate of 80 per cent. Despite the success of its flagship high-speed line, China Railway reported a net loss of 205 million yuan (US$29 million) in the first half of this year and at the end of that period had outstanding debts of 5.29 trillion yuan (US$750 billion). Analysts said that Beijing-Shanghai’s planned initial public offering was likely to be popular because of its healthy financial position and bright prospects. “There hasn’t been a listing of a company from China’s railway sector in a very long time,” said Wu Kan, an investment manager at Soochow Securities in Shanghai. “This is certainly a good development for China’s capital markets and for the industry.” The operator said in its filing it was optimistic about the future. There hasn’t been a listing of a company from China’s railway sector in a very long time. This is certainly a good development for China’s capital markets and for the industry Wu Kan “The route is China’s most active, with high growth prospects, and is a corridor for rapidly growing traffic volumes,” it said. “But if there is volatility in the macroeconomy, it could have an adverse effect on the company’s performance.” As of the end of September, Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway, which has just 67 employees, had assets of 187 billion yuan and liabilities of 27 billion yuan. That ratio of 14.4 per cent is far below the 65 per cent average for China’s rail operators as a whole. Besides China Railway, the company’s other shareholders include Ping An Asset Management with an 11.4 per cent stake and China Social Security Fund with 7.15 per cent, according to the filing.