China’s high speed rail system, first launched in 2007, has helped increase mobility, worker productivity, and business outreach, and spurred residential and commercial development in areas around the train stations. Building on the high-speed rail system’s success, China plans to further expand the 5,900 mile high-speed rail network. Below are some excerpts from the article “Speedy Trains Transform China”, by Keith Bradsher, published in the New York Times, on September 23, 2013.

Keith Bradsher reports “Just five years after China’s high-speed rail system opened, it is carrying nearly twice as many passengers each month as the country’s domestic airline industry. With traffic growing 28 percent a year for the last several years, China’s high-speed rail network will handle more passengers by early next year than the 54 million people a month who board domestic flights in the United States.”

““I did not think it would change so quickly. High-speed trains seemed like a strange thing, but now it’s just part of our lives,” a Chinese business executive said.”

“China’s high-speed rail system has emerged as an unexpected success story. Economists and transportation experts cite it as one reason for China’s continued economic growth. But it has not been without costs such as high debt, relocation of people, and a deadly accident.”

“The high-speed rail lines have, without a doubt, transformed China, often in unexpected ways." “For example, Chinese workers are now more productive. A paper for the World Bank by three consultants this year found that Chinese cities connected to the high-speed rail network, as more than 100 are already, are likely to experience broad growth in worker productivity. The productivity gains occur when companies find themselves within a couple of hours’ train ride of tens of millions of potential customers, employees and rivals.”

““What we see very clearly is a change in the way a lot of companies are doing business,” said a World Bank senior transport specialist in Beijing.” “Companies are opening research and development centers in more glamorous cities like Beijing and Shenzhen with abundant supplies of young, highly educated workers, and having them take frequent day trips to factories in cities with lower wages and land costs, like Tianjin and Changsha. Businesses are also customizing their products more through frequent meetings with clients in other cities, part of a broader move up the ladder toward higher value-added products.”

““More frequent access to my client base has allowed me to more quickly pick up on fashion changes in color and style. My orders have increased by 50 percent,” a Chinese businessman said.”

“China relocated large numbers of families whose homes lay in the path of the tracks and quickly built new residential and commercial districts around high-speed train stations. The new districts, typically located in inner suburbs, not downtown areas, have rapidly attracted large numbers of residents, partly because of China’s rapid urbanization.”


Article: “Speedy Trains Transform China”, by Keith Bradsher, published on September 23, 2013, in the New York Times

Related link:

Article: “China's high-speed trains attract frustrated fliers”, by Steven Jiang, published on April 12, 2013, on CNN’s website