New rail link means cheaper tickets and better service from China's airlines

Chinese airlines are to slash prices and improve their services in response to new high-speed rail lines, according to reports.

Following this week's opening of a new high-speed rail link between Shanghai and Beijing, China's major cities, more passengers than ever are expected to take the train in the country.

However, China's airlines are not going down without a fight, preparing to cut their prices and implement several other measures to lure people back to what is admittedly a faster journey.

The new train link takes just under five hours to cover the 1,318 kilometer route, compared to around an hour by plane, although the journey is slowed by the air travel process, with factors such as getting to the airport, check-in, boarding time and taxiing all slowing the process.

To rectify this, China Airlines, one of China's largest carriers, is simplifying the boarding process, enhancing its service levels and aiming to improve its on-time performance, according to Air Transport World.

China Eastern Airlines, the country's other major carrier, will be taking similar steps, reported the publication, although the biggest measure - cutting ticket prices - could prove the most popular among those who can't afford the train.

According to Chinese state media, airlines have slashed prices by up to 65 percent to below the cheapest rail ticket for the route, which starts at 410 yuan (€44) and can go as high as 1,750 yuan (€187).

Another report suggested that the lowest fare between Shanghai and Beijing using travel search site had dropped dramatically between June 30 and June 24, falling 42 percent to 368 yuan (€39).