An American blogger in China makes some interesting points about China’s rail system. The country’s existing rail network is currently being used to capacity by freight (mainly coal) and conventional passenger trains. In fact, the number of passenger trains has pushed a lot of coal traffic onto trucks and highways.
The high-speed rail network was supposed to get passengers off the conventional rails, in turn allowing freight trains to get coal and other freight off the highways. But the high-speed rail fares are so high that ridership is low and the vast majority of rail riders are sticking to the conventional trains. The result is a surplus of passenger capacity without alleviating the shortage of freight capacity.