The current rail administration under Sheng Guangzu has not initially been kind to Chinese HSR. Prices were cut by 5% after speeds went down by 15%, which really was a price hike in disguise, and the country gave up on its 350 km/h (218 mph) services in August 2011, in the wake of the Wenzhou train crash. Many HSR routes were also downgraded in the months following the crash.
However, the new leadership under President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have been visibly pro-HSR. In some cases, artificially downgraded lines have picked up speed again. The latest such example is the planned Zhengzhou-Wanzhou HSR, linking the capital of central China’s province of He’nan to Chongqing in central southwestern China. This new line has had its maximum planned speed upgraded, according to reports from People’s Railway Web.
The new Zhengzhou-Wanzhou HSR runs for 818 km (512 miles) and will leave Zhengzhou from the city’s HSR hub, Zhengzhou East (Zhengzhoudong). It then runs in a largely southwesterly digestion, passing through He’nan and Hubei provinces before entering Chongqing, which is a directly governed municipality (China’s largest by administrative area). At Wanzhou, it connects with the high speed line to the main city area of Chongqing. Regional centres served by this line are expected to be Kaifeng, Xuchang, Ouzhou, Pingdingshan, Nanyang, and Denzhou in He’nan, Xiangyang, Nanzhang, and Baokang in Hubei, and the outlying counties of eastern Chongqing. This line will run through the rather mysterious and feral Shennongjia Forest Area in Hubei.
The final feasibility studies will go in for approval by 30 July 2015. Provided approval is granted, works will begin in full in late 2015, with key areas seeing construction start earlier (in October 2015). Once the new line is open, travel time between Zhengzhou and Chongqing is likely to be busy under 4 hours.