China’s High Speed Railway

March 1, 2010

High-speed rail in China (simplified Chinese: 中国高速铁路;  Zhōngguó gāosù tiělù) refers to any commercial train service in China with an average speed of 200 km/h (120 mph) or higher. By that measure, China already has the world’s longest high-speed rail (HSR) network with about 6,920 km (4,300 miles) of routes in service as of July 2010, including 1,995 km (1,240 mi.) of rail lines with top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph).

China’s high speed rail lines consists of upgraded conventional rail lines, newly-built high-speed passenger designated lines (PDLs), and the world’s first high-speed commercial magnetic levitation (maglev) line. China’s HSR network is undergoing a building boom. With generous funding from the Chinese government’s economic stimulus program, 17,000 km (11,000 mi) of high-speed lines are now under construction. The entire HSR network will reach 13,000 km (8,100 mi) by 2012 and 16,000 km (9,900 mi) by 2020.

China is the first and only country to have commercial high-speed train service on conventional rail lines that can reach a top operational speed of 350 km/h (217 mph). Notable examples of high-speed train service include the Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, a national trunk line that travels 968 km (601 mi) in 3 hours reaching top speeds of 350 km/h(220 mph) and averaging 310 km/h (190 mph); the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, an intercity express line that covers 117 km (73 mi) in 30 minutes, reaching top speeds of 330 km/h(210 mph) and averaging 234 km/h (145 mph); and the Shanghai Maglev Train, an airport rail link that travels 30.5 km (19 mi.) in 7 minutes and 20 seconds., averaging 245.5 km/h (152.5 mph) and reaching top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph).

China’s high speed trains use a wide range of domestic and imported technologies from Germany, Canada, France, Japan and Sweden. The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway set to open before 2012 will use the new 380A train made by Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd., which can reach a top operational speed of 380 km/h.

The rapid expansion of high speed rail will bring  major Chinese cities together in a same day travel circle: 1-2 hours between two adjacent cities, 30 minutes to an 1 hour between provincial capital and other cities, and between Beijing and all other capital cities, 8 hours to a day. The high speed train railway network will be completed by 2020.

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Key Statistics in Summary

March 1, 2010

By 2008, China had completed 3 decades of reform and opening.  The changes brought about by this remarkable transformation include the following:

  1. The Chinese economy is the second largest in the world after the USA with a GDP of USD7.8 trillion (2008) when measured on a purchasing power parity basis.  It has been the fastest growing nation for the past 35 years with an annual GDP growth rate of more than 10%.  Over the last 3 decades, its per capita income has grown at an average rate of more than 8% to USD 5,300 by 2008 (based on PPP), drastically reducing poverty from 53% in 1981 to 8% in 2001 and increasing China’s middle class.
  2. China’s economy grew at an average of 10% per year during the 1990 – 2004 period, the highest growth rate in the world.  GDP grew 10% in 2003, 10.1% in 2004 and 10.4% in 2005 despite government attempts to cool the economy.  From 1978 to 2008 China’s share of the global economy grew from 1% to more than 4% whilst foreign trade grew from USD 20.6 billion in 1978 to USD 45 billion in 1997.  By 2006, China’s total trade surpassed USD 1.76 trillion, making China the world’s third largest trading nation after USA and Germany.
  3. In 2003, the statistics show that of the 114,660 Chinese students who departed to study abroad, 104,281 were self financed.   The increasing number of self financed Chinese students overseas points to the rise of the per capita and the affordability of overseas education where once it was unheard of unless through government sponsorship.  In 2004, there were a total of 617,000 students studying abroad.  150,000 students leave the country each year to earn a degree.  About 90% are self financed. Within a decade (1992-2002), education expenditure grew from USD 6 billion to USD 42 billion and continues to grow rapidly.
  4. World Bank statistics show that China is the world’s leading recipient of foreign direct investment receiving more than USD 80 billion in 2005 and USD 69.47 billion by 2006.  By then, the total stock of direct foreign investment in China alone amounted to USD 699.5 billion with many FDI-led investments in manufacturing proliferating in the more than 6,000 industrial parks in China.  Together with the recent Chinese government announcement of the injection of RMB 4 trillion public spending to create jobs and improve infrastructure following the global economic downturn, China’s total foreign direct investment and domestic non public investment exceeds USD 1 trillion.
  5. China became the 3rd most popular tourist destination in the world receiving 91.7 million tourists in 2003.  In 2002, domestic tourists reached 878 million and the revenue from China’s tourism industry reached USD 67.3 billion, accounting for 5.44% of the GDP.  WTO forecast that China’s tourism industry will account for up to 8.6% of the world market share to become the world’s top tourism industry by 2020.
  6. Strong Foreign Reserves: China’s foreign reserves exceeded USD 800 billion in 2005, more than doubling from 2003, reaching USD 1.066 trillion at the end of 2006 and USD 1.9 trillion by June 2008.  By Sept 2008, China’s foreign reserves surpassed that of Japan’s making China’s foreign reserves the largest in the world.  The Rimini continues to strengthen as international money flows continuously flows into China.
  7. From having very scarce telecommunication services, China has seen a surge in mobile phone users.  In 2006, mobile phone users sent 429 billion text messages or an average of 967 messages per user; and, from starting with just 100 internet users, internet users increased to 10 million by 1997 and topped 137 million by 2006.
  8. When completed in 2015, the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS) which now has 10,000 km of trunk highways in operation will have a total of 35,000 km of toll highways and expressways at a cost of USD 150 billion.  By 2010, China will have expanded its railway lines to 100,000 km.

The economic and structural changes set in motion by Deng Xiao Pang’s open market reforms are changing China and indeed, the world.  China’s current high growth trends are expected to continue.  Robust growth will bring forth new ideas, new technologies and new business models, pioneered by the Chinese and the hundreds of thousands of enterprising business leaders and managers from over 100 countries around the world – all participating in the modernization of China.  China will set new trends and be a leader in many aspects of modern life in the foreseeable future.

China is expected to continue growing and developing at a fast pace.  Today, China is already the most important industrial production center in the world.  It is also an important consumer market.  It commands the highest foreign reserves amongst the nations of the world.   Today, China is the world’s 2nd largest economy, and by 2030, it will once again take its place as one of the world’s major economic powers with the greatest potential.