Sunday 25 Feb 2018 | 09:08 | SYDNEY
Sunday 25 Feb 2018 | 09:08 | SYDNEY

Asia: Silk roads or sow's ears?



9 April 2010 15:27

An article about Asian infrastructure in the latest issue of The Economist (which references a piece for The American Interest written by my colleagues, Anthony Bubalo and Malcolm Cook) contains one paragraph that left me a little bemused:

Railways reflect the boldest ambitions. China has already pushed a railway up the Himalayas to Lhasa in Tibet, on which 5m people have travelled since 2006. Now it wants to push lines down them into Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. As for high-speed railways, from a standing start China’s are the world’s fastest and longest. The government has plans to roll out a high-speed network across Asia and even Europe. It proposes three main routes to connect two dozen countries, from Singapore in the south to Germany in the west (with a tunnel from mainland China to Taiwan to boot). By 2025, if the railway ministry is to be believed, it will take two days to travel from Shanghai to London.

 Wow — two days! Just imagine if you could do it in twelve hours! Oh, right, I forgot: 

Surely there's a point at which high-speed rail stops making economic sense? Even if this is intended as a freight route rather than a passenger service, could it really compete with shipping?

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