Beijing: In a move to placate passengers, China has decided to slow down the speed of its high profile bullet trains. This surprising announcement was made after commuters complained they are forced to ride on high-speed trains and pay more because the Railway Ministry cancelled slower trains.

China's high-speed railways will run at a slower speed than previously expected, Railways Minister Sheng Guangzu, who recently replaced Liu Zhijun following corruption charges, said.

In an interview to a daily, Sheng said high-speed trains will run at 300 kilometres per hour starting from July 1, instead of the previously announced 350 km/hr.

The change to the country's high-speed rail network was made after Liu stepped down when he became the subject of an investigation for an alleged "severe violation of discipline" on February 12.

Sheng said only the four east-west and four north-south artery lines of the high-speed rail network will carry trains at 300 km/hr.

The inter-city lines that usually connect major centers within regions should be operated at between 200 and 250 km/hr, while most railways in central and western China will operate at less than 200 km/hr, he said.

Previously, China was expecting to build a high-speed rail network with an operational speed of 350 km/hr or more, which dramatically reduced distances between cities.

The landmark Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway was built to run trains at 380 km/hr that could compete with airlines.

But Sheng did not say whether the line will still run that fast when it opens in June.

For passengers, a lowered speed could mean a cut in ticket prices in the future.

Wang Yongping, spokesman for the ministry, said on Wednesday that the lowering of the operational speed will "provide a bigger price-float range", without elaborating.

The ministry also plans to ask passengers to provide their real names when buying bullet train tickets starting from June 1.

Agencies