Beijing-Shanghai bullet train and our MRT

China is building a bullet train connection between 2 of its most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, a distance of 1318 km (with 24 stations as shown).

Station on track
0.000 Beijing South
Stop on track
59.500 Langfang
Junction from left Station on transverse track
Tianjin West
Stop on track
131.400 Tianjin South
Stop on track
219.270 Cangzhou West
Stop on track
327.980 Dezhou East
Bridge over water
Jinan Yellow River Bridge
Station on track
419.445 Jinan West
Stop on track
462.730 Taishan West
Stop on track
533.165 Qufu East
Stop on track
589.175 Tengzhou East
Stop on track
625.280 Zaozhuang West
Station on track
688.700 Xuzhou East
Stop on track
756.220 Suzhou East
Stop on track
844.380 Bengbu South
Small non-passenger station on track
Stop on track
959.390 Chuzhou South
Bridge over water
Dashengguan Yangtze River Bridge
Station on track
1018.600 Nanjing South
Stop on track
1083.713 Zhenjiang West
Stop on track
1111.850 Danyang North
Stop on track
1144.760 Changzhou North
Stop on track
1201.160 Wuxi East
Stop on track
1227.970 Suzhou North
Stop on track
1259.320 Kunshan South
Station on track
1302.890 Shanghai Hongqiao



The construction started in April 2008. According to Wikipedia (click here), “there are 244 bridges along the line. The 164-km long Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge is the longest bridge in the world.,[8] the 114-km long viaduct bridge between Langfang and Qingxian is the second longest in the world, and the viaduct between Beijing’s Fourth Ring Road and Langfang is the fifth longest. The line also includes 22 tunnels, totaling 16.1 km. 1,268 km of the length is ballastless.”

The first test run was held in February this year, and full test run March..The speed during test runs was above 350km/hour, and the highest recorded was 486.1 kph.

Total cost , according to (click here) is US$33.6 Billion, equivalent to RM103 Billion, or RM78 million per kilometer, inclusive of land, tunnels, longest bridges, and tracks that can withstand BULLET TRAINS! , not to mention the technology and electronic behind such system. (Ballastless track is supposedly the most advanced system and most costly, meant for very high speed train)

According to the Star (click here), our planned MRTof 150km is going to cost RM50 billion or roughly RM333 million per kilometer. Mind you, this is just for a MRT, and not a bullet train which requires highest form of technology.

I met a Singaporean friend in government service, and he too told me that the cost is way too high even by Singapore standard, and he suggested that perhaps for that cost, the whole track could have been underground.

I am all for a MRT to improve the traffic, but not at an exorbitant cost. Government needs to be more transparent to the Rakyat how the cost is so high.


Ballastless track is the most advanced and costly rail system for very high speed train service

38 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. KK
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 13:32:23

    What to expect when public procurement for a normal notebook can be RM 25k , an ordinary jack cost RM 2000 per piece and so on.


  2. Mohamad Abidin
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 13:59:02



  3. stupid kid
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 15:21:10

    What happened to the Singapore-KL high speed train project? Maybe the price of our land is more expensive. Most tracks and stations of the MRT are located in major commercial areas of the Klang Valley. My father’s clinic in Taman Pertama, Cheras is affected. It will be demolished to build a station there. Three blocks of 38 shops will be razed to the ground. How much compensation will the owner of each shoplot get? At market price? We just dont know.


  4. Dr Hsu
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 15:25:52

    The initial announcement of 36 billion, during budget time last year, was said to be without land acquisition cost.

    And do not forget the project has not even been started. By the time it finishes, it could be much more expensive than the RM50 billion. China’s Beijing Shanghai line has been completed, within 3 years, going through wide rivers (Yangtse is a very wide river) , mountains (hence 22 tunnels) and the ballastless track which needs less maintenace, but very costly to build..

    and it passes through Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.. I do not know about Beijing, but Shanghai’s land is many times more expensive than KL now..

    Anyway, as i see it, tunneling costs should be higher than land acquisition cost, otherwise, we would be doing all underground.. Now only a short section is under ground. In that case, China’s Beijing-shanghai line have a viadust 114 km long, and with other tunnels, the tunneling costs should be much higher , not to mention the cost of the yangtze bridge..


    BTW, there is a joke going round, and told to me by my Singapore civil servant friend.. For the short section of underground MRT, we may be drilling from 2 different ends, and chances are if the two ends do not meet each other, we will get an extra line,… but it will not be free..


  5. Shiok Guy
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 17:27:36

    Typical Malaysia Boleh..
    We all know where all those extra going to go to..
    But what are we doing? Still blindly vote the same pirate/sucker

    But never lost hope! One day we will clean the system off.. But first we need to make sure we mean business and be a voter. and NEVER Vote for Sucker!


  6. monsterball
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 21:24:40

    Time and time again…projects comparisons are provided from facts and always show anything build by the Government is far far more expensive that others.
    So many Malaysians looked at all the developments and conclude we have a great government…so why change it?
    How did Mahathir stole RM100 Billion from Malaysians?
    Well ..all projects are grossly overpriced and all tenders are awarded to pro UMNO B cronies and huge projects supposedly to protect the country are done with no tenders at all. That was when they have the comfortable more than 2/3 majority.
    After 12th GE….one by one are exposed…grossly overpriced and not one time…MACC in interested to investigate.
    It is when Public yell for actions on the PKFZ RM12.5 billion ripped off…we are seeing two from MCA chosen as scapegoats to calm down Malaysians angers …yet like so many previous cases…all will take years to conclude..or forgotten.
    MRT in Malaysia cost RM333 million per kilometer.
    Bullet train which is in China cost RM 78 million per kilometer.
    Just this project…go and see how much those rouges and thieves stole from Malaysians and tax payers.
    CORRUPTIONS is so huge and uncontrollable.
    The only way is to change the government to save the country and the poor getting poorer.
    Lim Kit Siang have been exposing CORRUPTIONS for more than 35 years.. and if he is talking nonsense…….DAP would have been buried alive long ago.
    I hope Dr. Hsu keep giving such great comparisons to shame all useless parties in the so call Barisan National..supporting UMNO B corruptions…be be rewarded like puppets and be prepared to be show dogs…arrested and displayed.


  7. Cawan Lama
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 23:52:26

    Dear Doc,

    I agree with your comparison but you have left out the 25% for the ministers, another 10% fort their wifes, another 5% for the mistress (5% each ok?) and drivers, bodyguards, Political Secretaries, PS’s secretary, PS’s driver, PS’s wife and the list goes on… and the most important 1, the ultimate or ex-ultimate 1 need another 10% each. so we Malaysian will come to a “justified cost” @ RM50b!!! (Please expect to add another 50% at least in order for it to be able to operational).

    So we stupid Malaysian need to say “Thank you” to the govt that agreed to built a MRT system that will make our daily lives easier so the road will be less congested for the people listed above & their wife, mistress, kids, bodyguard can whiz around town in brand new Cayenne, Audi TT, Lexus, Lambo, Prancing Horse & so on…

    Lastly we will “continue foolishly” faithfully voting for this govt & thank them for the “peace & development” they grant to us, the Malaysia Citizen.

    Damn, I will not deny the next time somebody say : Actually Malaysian Are Damn Stupid.

    Thank you.

    Cawan Lama


    Mar 26, 2011 @ 00:10:15



  9. Shiok Guy
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 06:01:47

    The change in education make the general public less access to information. I respect our national language but using it as medium of education make us less inform. A lot of Malaysian has limited access to information, and what we read and hear in local medias are mainly “to fool” the fool.

    I once met a guy who in suit and tie, a government high ranking officer. He truely belief that our car is the cheapest in the world…

    I tell him for a basic Camry only cost around USD20K.. He said I am dreaming.. I think he is just a frog living in coconut shell..

    For US20K * 3.1 = RM62K.. What can you get for RM62K in Malaysia? Moreover the per capital income of the USA is a lot higher..

    So, make the voter stupid (Less educated) then it is easy to fool them. Bring back English Medium education and make us more informed.

    Shiok Guy


  10. Tpg2Sg
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 08:08:31

  11. Phua Kai Lit
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 08:18:59

    “Satu lagi projek (overpriced) BN”


  12. Li Li Fa
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 09:06:27

    Dr. Hsu,
    It is timely that you brought up this matter on the MRT Project. As pointed out, one of the best ways to gauge our own rail transport system is to do a quick comparison with those from other countries.

    China is using its own technology to design, build, and install their own fast rail system, namely the Bullet Train. A fine example is the link between Beijing and Shanghai, and the entire cost to build it is only a small fraction of that of our Malaysian MRT project linking Sg.Buloh and Kajang.

    What comes to mind is:
    1. Why such a high cost projected in the above MRT project?
    2. Is the cost justifiable?
    3. Is there accountability?
    4. Is there a limit to the cost projected?
    5. Cost overrun? How come? Why?

    This reminds me that once there was a nasi lemak seller who sells this delicacy at RM1.00 per packet. The same type of nasi lemak when sold in different venues may experience a drastic jump in the selling price – 100%, 200% and even more?

    But of course, costing an MRT project is different from a nasi lemak packet. However, the principles of accountability, responsibility, and integrity and ethics surely will rise above all areas of concern.


  13. Dr Hsu
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 09:08:15

    David Ng

    What we can do is to vote for change of course. But we need to change people’s mindset first. So, tell our Malay friends, Indian friends, CHinese Friends, Kadazan friends, Dayak friends about the figures, which are real figures quoted from official sources.

    Spread the word that if we want to have better lives, we need to have a cleaner government. Just tell them nicely with facts and figures. Let them think about this themselves. We need the majority to change.


  14. CEL
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 11:21:17

    Dr Hsu,

    Labour in China are cheap. Environmental and OH&S guidelines are less stringent compared to Malaysia though we are at least 50 years behind the western countries. That’s why we get cheap Chinese products but “tidak tahan lama” in Malaysia and worldwide.

    Even in “advance” country like Australia, it is impossible to construct a bullet train service connecting the east coast – Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane cos $$$$.

    Try and engage an Mat Salleh expatriate engineer in Malaysia – you have to pay A$100,000 excludes EPF which is RM30,000 a month plus housing allowances, transport, club memebership, leave expenses, etc.

    Engage a guy from China of similar experience, you need to pay RM2000 a month – cheap labour but not easy to import unless you got connections.

    That’s why price on MRT so high cos our xchange is also high. What to do? Don have the talents to implement, construct and manage MRT – need to depend on other mored advanced countries. Anything “specialised” need to import.

    At least Malaysia is not inundated by the Chinese from China otherwise even the aggressive KL Cantonese will be overrun by them.

    In Australia, you get influx of these rich Chinese who jack up the property market. Wonder how they make their money.

    Nowadays, you can throw a stone and sure strike a Chinese/Indian (not Malaysian lah) on the street in any city in Australia compared to striking a local Australian twenty years ago because they are rare species then.


  15. LK
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 12:42:12

    Here’s a comment from KC on the Sg Buloh – Kajang MRT Line from “the good stock bad stock- Finance and Investment through a skeptic’s eyes” blog —
    K C said…

    In terms of complexity of Singapore MRT and that of the proposed Sg Buluh-Kajang one, I think the Singapore one is more complicated, mainly because of the highly densely populated areas and underground construction there would pose huge technical complexities. Overall geology of the two areas should not be much different, unless if the majority of the Sg Buluh-Kajang one contains limestone, which I doubt so. The problem lies on the tendering process. Singapore is known for its transparency in project tendering and contract award. They are opened to international contractors and the lowest tender from a pre-qualified contractor will be awarded the job. Hence because of the competition, most international contractors lost money in many of the MRT contracts and Singapore government will not compensate them a dime (unless you prove indisputably that you are entitled to). But that is the essence of competition for the good of the overall society.
    Looking back into history. Pilecon Engineering offered the most competitive bidding for the North South Highway in early 1980 at less than 2 b but the award was given to UEM at 6 b. When the job was completed, UEM pocketed more than 10b with all the dubious variation orders. One can imagine how much MMC-Gamuda will make when MRT is completed in 10 years time, and how much the tax payers suffer with additional taxes, removal of subsidies etc.


  16. mmc
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 15:45:20

    moot question, doc.

    its called BN premium. any project which is without cost overrun and within time is not a UMNO/MCA project.

    look at the upgrading of the furnicular train for Bendera Hills in Penang. Under MCA, cost doubled from RM40m to RM80m and that for a simple upgrading exercise. Imagine whats the cost overrun going to be for a far more complex MRT system.


  17. Dr Hsu
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 16:03:09

    mmc and LK,
    Thanks for the info on the Penang funicular rail and the North South Highway respectively….

    Then we have the PKFZ fiasco.. I still cannot figure out how it can grow into a 12 billion monster.


  18. klm
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 17:35:36

    Consider it this way . The MRT is not a transportation project. It is a scheme to siphon money. The MRT is just the special purpose vehicle.


  19. klm
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 17:38:46

    Beside a high speed transportation system, China will own some advanced technology. With the money spent by Malaysia, we will get the MRT and pay another country for the technollogy.


  20. wisely
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 19:28:28


    Thanks for this insightful piece of information and I hope it will reach the govt side and see how they will answer.


  21. pilocarpine
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 21:10:53

    i believe this piece of entry would not have or perhaps reluctantly seen the daylight, if DocHsu still in the party.

    Thank you for such an insightful info and hope it will continue to flood into the knowledge of all malaysians..

    keep up the good work, Doc.


  22. Tpg2Sg
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 09:53:47

    Hi Doc,

    Anil wrote about KTM with a Modern China railway system video clip ;


  23. ChinNA
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 10:27:04

    Good factual piece. Thank you.


  24. ChinNA
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 10:33:57

    Dear CEL,
    Your comment on China labour rate is true to some extent. However, I would like to add 2 points for all of us to consider:
    1. Labour is most probably not the main component of the cost.
    2. The needed skills will be from both ends of the skill spectrum. Recently Shanghai is not exactly a ‘cheap’ place to operate a business.

    At this juncture, I don’t have all the facts other then anecdotal ones like yours. So let’s not form a conclusion.


  25. DAVID NG
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 11:54:33



  26. petestop
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 14:35:34

    Thanks for catching this, doc!

    We should definitely get you into parliament.
    You make a good candidate for the MCLM platform!


  27. monsterball
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 09:44:58

    MCLM candidate…..joining Raja Petra and Haris Ibrahim?
    Are you joking?
    Dr.Hsu can do wonders in keDAILan but a natural born Freedom Fighter most suitable to DAP.
    Those political parties may have ideas that sometimes find each other at loggerheads….but one fact is sure…they are fighting to reform Malaysians against corruptions and double standard living conditions.
    When voted in…PR parties do not deliver…we can vote them out again and Doc can resign to be a free man.
    But vote UMNO B Govt out is a must…after 55 years…since we have a good alternative.
    However…Dr.Hsu may want to retire from politics to give more time to family and children….very understandable….and that is a sacrifice doing no harm to Malaysians.
    Forget about MCLM or KITA under Zaid Ibrahim.


  28. wisely
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 11:24:34

    I give it a thought and I hope some of us here can enlighten me:

    1. Land around Beijing and Shanghai is definately more expensive than greater KL but how about the rest of the area. 150km of KL land is definately costly and some include shops and other buildings.

    2. Definate the salary here is much dearer than in China for labourer job

    3. However here is just mRT and there is bullet train. Also the tunnel, bridges etc there will also be expensive.

    4. Nazri did said that this price is not final and i hope PR will also do a study as to compare the price here. Anyway better trasportation is what we all want and hope for minus the high prices of course and that we all can agree!


  29. Dr Hsu
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 16:41:20


    The bullet train passes through 24 cities, some like Suzhou, Tianjin, Xuzhou, Changzhou(my ancestral home), are cities with millions of population.. and land in these coastal cities is not cheap.

    Our MRT’s initial 35 billion was without land acquisition costs. Even with 35 billions, it is still much more expensive than the bullet train

    Some BN leaders are privately saying that this is very costly, and i would not be surprised if the leakages would amount to billions. No open tender is called , when such hugh sum is involved. I dont know whether wise man pay tax, but i do , and i do not like my money being used to service the leakages and wastages..

    That is why even some BN leaders ( some may be even your leaders) are privately saying that


  30. Dr Hsu
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 16:41:20


    The bullet train passes through 24 cities, some like Suzhou, Tianjin, Xuzhou, Changzhou(my ancestral home), are cities with millions of population.. and land in these coastal cities is not cheap.

    Our MRT’s initial 35 billion was without land acquisition costs. Even with 35 billions, it is still much more expensive than the bullet train

    Some BN leaders are privately saying that this is very costly, and i would not be surprised if the leakages would amount to billions. No open tender is called , when such hugh sum is involved. I dont know whether wise man pay tax, but i do , and i do not like my money being used to service the leakages and wastages..

    That is why even some BN leaders ( some may be even your leaders) are privately saying that


  31. wisely
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 17:49:10


    Thanks and noted!


  32. Darren
    Apr 02, 2011 @ 01:21:46

    out of the RM50 billion needed to construct the MRT line in Klang Valley, 60% gone to the pockets of the people who hv interests in this mega project


  33. banglaman
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 14:54:11

    How we wish we had RM 50 billion to spend in Bangladesh, we may get China to build bullet train from Dhaka to Kolkata


  34. banglaman
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 15:05:34

    Mr. wisely, dont think salaries in China is very cheap (compare w Malaysia) now, go n visit the big cities of China n ask the salaries for skill workers, you will be getting BIG surprise


  35. banglaman
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 15:18:55

    MR CEL, have visited the big cities in China recently?? if you do, then you know at least half of what you wrote are outdated.
    Your RM2,000 per month is nothing to many young graduate workers (those below 32) in China now!!


  36. manaman
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 15:52:27

    For information
    Taiwan, Taipei-Kaohsiung bullet train, built by Japanese, Taiwanese, cost RM140 million per km, about RM50 billion for 358km, completed in 2008
    Recently, Japanese company proposal on Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh city bullet train was turned down by Vietnam govt becos Viet govt had no money, cost RM104 million per km total cost RM170 billion for abt 1640 km
    Surely Japanese executive salary is not cheap, n Taiwan (Taipei etc) land acquisition cannot be cheaper than KL. still much cheaper than RM333 million per km
    So those of you think China can built cheaper than Malaysia becos China is cheap, cheap, cheap, better think more rationally. Bullet train need high skilled knowledgeable workers, not just raw labourers.


  37. manaman
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 18:41:25

    For those who think RM2,000 per month is a big deal to Chinese graduate in China big cities, better wake up, go to China big cities now, n see for your self.


  38. TooMuch
    Apr 19, 2011 @ 16:16:52

    Hello Doc, I had the pleasure of only getting connected with your blog just now and quickly browsed through some of the topics that you wrote on. Cannot help but to drop a note this issue of the M’sian MRT (RM333M per km) compared with the Beijing – Shanghai bullet line (RM78M per km).
    The blind can see with these crooks are doing in M’sia. Don’t even mention the 6 boats that cost RM6B or the submarine commission of RM450+M plus yearly maintainance of RM50M. DAP Tony Pua took this up but no one else in the balls-less component parties utter a single world. Our country and the rakyat are totally screwed and now the crooks are destracting these issue by creating racial tension. Fortunately now we hear some comments from like-minded people including Baljit Singh. You have done the right thing Doc by getting out of the rotten can full of corrupted worms. Hope that you can get like minded people like Baljit to do the same per your slogan “To do my little bit to make the world a better place”
    Please do start with Malaysia, our country first. Cheers


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