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China: China Transportation Profile


Transport in China has experienced major increase and expansion in recent years. Airports, roads, and railway construction will provide a massive employment boost in China over the next decade.

Railway, which is the primary mode of transport, has as well been used for long distances, has doubled in length since the mid-twentieth century, and an extensive network provides service to all country. The larger cities have metro systems in operation, under construction, or in the planning stage. The highway and road system as well has gone through rapid expansion, resulting in a rapid increase of motor vehicle use throughout China. Although China's transport system comprises a vast network of transport nodes across its huge territory, the nodes tend to concentrate in the additional economically developed coastal areas and inland cities along major rivers.

The physical national and comprehensiveness of China's transport infrastructure tend to vary widely by geography. While remote, rural areas still largely depend on non-mechanized means of transport, a modern maglev train system was built in China to connect the city center of Shanghai with its international airport.

Much of contemporary China's transport systems have been built since the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. Prior to 1950, there were only 21,800 km (13,546 mi) of railway lines. In 2010, the railway network has since been expanded to 90,000 km (55,923 mi).[2] Rail travel remained the majority popular form of transport, although air travel has as well experienced significant increase since the late 1990s. The government-led effort — that began in the 1990s — to connect the country by expressways via the "National Trunk Highway System" has expanded the network to about 97,000 km (60,273 mi) by the end of 2012[3] making China's the longest expressway network in the world.

China is in the midst of a massive upgrade of its transport infrastructure. Until recently, China's economy was able to continue to grow despite deficiencies in infrastructure development. This is no longer the case, and the Government realizes that to keep the economy moving forward, they need an efficient system in place to move goods and people across the country. According to World Bank statistics, goods lost due to poor or obsolete transport infrastructure amounted to one % of China's GDP as recently as the majority current survey (mid-1990s). Logistic costs account for 20% of a product's price in China, compared to 10% in the United States, and 5% in other developed nations.

Ports are being improved for better use of China's waterways, and airports are being improved across the country. Related industries such as construction equipment, engineering, container security, and electronics and safety devices have as well grown rapidly.


Rail is the major mode of transport in China. In 2011 China's railways carried 2,947 billion tonne-kilometers of freight[4] and 961.23 billion passenger-kilometers;[4] both traffic volumes are the highest in the world. The high volume of traffic that China's railway system carries makes it critical to China's economy. China's railway system carries 24% of the world's railway transport volume on only 6% of the world's railways. China has the world's third-major rail network; as of 2010 it is 91,000 km (56,545 mi) long, an increase of 5,000 km (3,107 mi) of track from 2009. About 47% of the network is electrified. [4]

In 2011 China's railway inventory included 19,431 locomotives[4] owned by the national railway system. The inventory in recent times included some 100 steam locomotives, but the last such locomotive, built in 1999, is presently in service as a tourist attraction while the others have been retired from commercial service. The remaining locomotives are either diesel- or electric-powered. An extra 352 locomotives are owned by local railroads and 604 operated by joint-venture railways. National railway freight cars numbered 622,284[4] and passenger coaches 52,130 .[4]

Because of its limited capital, overburdened infrastructure, and need to continuously modernize, the national rail system, which is controlled by the Ministry of Railways through a network of regional divisions, operates on an austere budget. Foreign capital investment in the freight sector was allowed beginning in 2003, and international public stock offerings opened in 2006. In an extra move to better capitalize and reform the rail system, the Ministry of Railways established three public shareholder-owned companies in 2003: China Railways Container Transport Company, China Railway Appropriate Cargo Service Company, and China Railways Parcel Express Company.

In recent decades, rail use in China has seen significant increase in the volume of goods and passengers transported. Since 1980, the volume of goods transported (metric tons times kilometers traveled) has increased by 305% and the volume of passengers (million passengers times kilometers traveled) has increased by 485%.[5] During this same time periond, total Km of rail lines has only increased by 34%.

Regional development

In 1992, a new large-scale rail project was launched in China, called the "New Silk Road" or "Eurasian Continental Bridge" project. The project involved the modernization and infrastructure development of a 4,131 km (2,567 mi) railroad route starting in Lianyungang, Jiangsu, and traveling through central and northwestern China to Urumqi, Xinjiang, to the Alataw Pass into Kazakhstan. From that point, the railroad links to some 6,800 km (4,225 mi) of routes that end in Rotterdam.

China as well has established rail links between seaports and interior export-processing zones. For example, in 2004 Chengdu in Sichuan was linked to the Shenzhen Appropriate Economic Zone in coastal Guangdong; exports clear customs in Chengdu and are shipped twice daily by rail to the seaport at Shenzhen for fast delivery.


A 1,080 km (671 mi) section of the Qingzang railway has been completed from Golmud to Lhasa. The 815 km (506 mi) section from Xining to Golmud in Qinghai opened to traffic in 1984. The railway's highest point, the Tanggula Mountain Pass, is 5,072 m above sea level, making it the highest railway in the world. Additional than 960 km (597 mi), or over four-fifths of the railway, is at an altitude of additional than 4,000 m, and over half of it was laid on frozen earth. Because of the high altitudes, carriages are supplied with supplemental oxygen.

Linking Lhasa and Shigatse together in Tibet, the construction of a 254 km (158 mi) extension line of the Qingzang railway started in 2009 with completion expected by 2014.
High-speed rail
Different types of rolling stock at the Beijing South Railway Station.
Major article: High-speed rail in China

The high-speed service is mainly operated by China Railway High-speed. As of October 2010, China has 7,000+ km of rail track capable for 250+ km/h running. Lines capable for 300+ km/h running include:

Beijing–Tianjin Line, 117 km (73 mi) long
Wuhan–Guangzhou Line, 968 km (601 mi) long
Zhengzhou–Xi'an Line, 457 km (284 mi) long
Shanghai–Nanjing Line, 301 km (187 mi) long
Shanghai–Hangzhou Line, 160 km (99 mi) long
Guangzhou–Shenzhen Line, 160 km (99 mi) long
Beijing–Wuhan Line, 760 km (472 mi) long
Harbin–Dalian Line, 924 km (574 mi) long
Shanghai–Beijing Line, 1,380 km (857 mi) long

Maglev train

China as well has the world's initial commercial high-speed maglev (magnetic levitation) train service (the initial maglev service opened at Birmingham International Airport, United Kingdom, in 1984; however, it was not high-speed). The Chinese project, a Sino-German joint venture, was a 38-km-long route between downtown Shanghai and the Pudong airport that opened in 2003. The project cost US$1.2 billion.[6]

In 2004 the initial Chinese-made maglev train made its debut in Dalian, a major port city in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. The 10.3 km long train has a top speed of just under 110 kilometers per hour. Although the cost to build was high at US$6 million per kilometer, China's outlay was still only one-sixth of the world average.
Railway links with adjoining countries

The only railway link China has with a neighboring country that does not have a break of gauge is with North Korea. China as well has links with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, which all use the 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) gauge, and with Vietnam, where the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge is still in use.

China does not have a direct rail link with Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan or Tajikistan, but is currently planning links with Laos and India (via Burma).

Variable-gauge-axle trains are sometimes used to overcome the break of gauge with neighboring nations. The mainland is as well linked to Hong Kong, but not with Macau, although a Macau link is planned.

Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway, which crosses Russia, has a branch that sweeps down from Ulan-Ude, across Mongolia, and on to Beijing.
Potential link of Qinghai-Tibet railway to India

As India has been extending its railway near the Nathu La pass with China, and China has plans to extend the Qinghai-Tibet railway to near its border with Nathu La, a petition was set up to promote the idea that both nations could link up their respective proportions for direct train services between the two nations. As of 6 September 2011, the petition had 81 members.[7]


Currently there are 15 rapid transit systems in mainland China. A further 18 systems are under construction and 20 additional metros are planned. With the ¥4 trillion economic stimulus package all current existing subway systems are undergoing massive expansion, with a lot of new systems being under construction or planned. The Beijing Subway, which opened in 1969, currently has 15 lines, 218 stations, and 372 km (231 mi) of subway track, and will grow to about 1,000 km (621 mi) by 2020.[8] The Tianjin Metro was begun in 1970 as a planned network of 153.9 km (96 mi) on seven lines, the current existing system contains 2 lines and 26.18 km (16 mi) of track with 22 stations. Shanghai Metro, which opened in 1995, as of the end of 2010 had twelve lines, 233 stations, and 420 km (261 mi) of track in operation, making it the longest metro system in the world. Further expansion plans call for a network of 887 km (551 mi) of track. The Guangzhou Metro, which opened in 1997, has five lines (as of 2010), 144 stations, and has 236 km (147 mi) with an additional 400 km (249 mi) planned to be completed by 2020. The Shenzhen Metro opened in 2004, initially with two lines, 19 stations, and 21.8 km (14 mi) of track;next 2010 it had over 70 km (43 mi), and by June 2011 it had expanded to 177 km (110 mi) of operational metro.

Cities that have a metro system:

Beijing Subway
Changsha Metro
Changchun Light Rail Transit
Chengdu Metro
Chongqing Rail Transit
Dalian Metro
Dongguan Rail Transit
FMetro (Foshan)
Fuzhou Metro
Guangzhou Metro
Hangzhou Metro
Harbin Metro
Hefei Metro
Kunming Rail Transit
Nanchang Rail Transit
Nanjing Metro
Ningbo Rail Transit
Qingdao Metro
Shanghai Metro
Shenyang Metro
Shenzhen Metro
Suzhou Metro
Tianjin Metro
Wuhan Metro
Wuxi Metro
Xi'an Metro
Zhengzhou Metro

Metro systems under construction:

Changzhou Metro
Guiyang Urban Rail Transit
Hefei Metro
Nanning Rail Transit
Wenzhou Metro


During the war with Japan, in the 1930s, China built a lot of roads, the majority famous of which is the Burma Road that leads southwest from Kunming to the city of Lashio. Since it came into power, the Communist government initiated a large effort into building highways that extend across China and beyond its borders.

Today, China is linked by an evolving network of roads (China National Highways) and expressways (Expressways of China). In the completed few years, China has been rapidly developing its highway system. Between 1990 and 2003, the total length of urban roads in China additional than doubled; increasing from 95,000 to 208,000 kilometers of roads during that period. Similarly, during the same period of time, the total area allocated to roads additional than tripled; from 892 million square meters in 1990, to 3,156.5 million square meters in 2003.China National Highways stretch to all four corners of mainland China. Expressways reach the same destinations as China National Highways, except for the rugged terrain of Tibet. An expressway link is by presently at the planning stage.

In 2005 China had a total road network of additional than 3.3 million km, although approximately 1.47 million km of this network are classified as "village roads". Paved roads totaled 770,265 km (478,620 mi) in 2004; the remainder were gravel, improved earth standard, or merely earth tracks.

Highways (totaling 130,000 km) were critical to China's economic increase as it worked to mitigate a poor distribution network and authorities sought to spur economic activity due. All major cities are expected to be linked with a 108,000 km[10] interprovince expressway system by 2020. The highway and road systems carried nearly 11.6 billion tons of freight and 769.6 trillion passenger/kilometers in 2003.

The importance of highways and motor vehicles, which carry 13.5% of cargo and 49.1% of passengers, was growing rapidly in the mid-2000s. Road usage has increased significantly, as automobiles, inclunding privately owned vehicles, rapidly replace bicycles as the popular vehicle of choice in China. Car ownership is still low in comparison to the other members of the BRIC group of nations, being exceeded by Russia and Brazil.[11] Indeed, the rate of car ownership in China is only expected to meet the 1960s level of car ownership of some developed nations in 2015.

In 2002, excluding military and probably internal security vehicles, there were 12 million passenger cars and buses in operation and 8.1 million other vehicles. In 2003 China reported that 23.8 million vehicles were used for business purposes, inclunding 14.8 million passenger vehicles and 8.5 million trucks. The new statistics from the Beijing Municipal Statistics Bureau show that Beijing had nearly 1.3 million privately owned cars at the end of 2004 or 11 for each 100 Beijing residents. Beijing currently has the highest annual rate of private car increase in China.

Some 270,000 km (167,770 mi) of rural highways will be built and upgraded in 2008. By comparison, 423,000 km (262,840 mi) of countryside highways were built or upgraded in 2007, a record high. According to China's Transport Ministry, as of the end of 2007, 98.54 % of villages and towns had by presently been connected by highways.

The 2008 construction plan comprises five north-south highway trunk roads and seven east-west trunk roads and eight inter-provincial roads. Meanwhile, the central and local governments have continued to allocate funds to support the countryside highway build-up and step up construction quality supervision.

By the end of 2010, China's highways extends 74,000 Kilometers, with the total length of all public roads reaching 3,984,000 km.

Electrical bicycles

China is the world's leading producer of electric bicycles. According to the data of the China Bicycle Association, a government-chartered industry group, in 2004 China's manufacturers sold 7.5 million electric bicycles nationwide, which was almost twice 2003 sales;[19] domestic sales reached 10 million in 2005, and 16 to 18 million in 2006.[20] By 2007, electric bicycles were thought to make up 10 to 20 % of all two-wheeled vehicles on the streets of a lot of major cities.[20] A typical unit requires 8 hours to charge the battery, which provides the range of 25–30 miles (40–50 km),[20] at the speed of around 20 km/h (12 mph),[19] however people usually illegal override, makes it just like normal motorcycles, capable of reach nearly 100 km/h (62 mph). A large number of such vehicles is exported from China as well (3 million units, worth 40 billion yuan ($5.8 billion), in 2006 alone),

Airports - with unpaved runways Total: 
Transportation - note: