Understanding the urbanization impacts of high-speed rail in China





High-Speed Rail, high-speed rail's impacts, China, urbanization, industry, population


Advances in transport technology have been shown to play a vital role in urban development over millennia. From the engineering and pavement innovations of the Roman road network to the aerospace breakthroughs that enabled jet aircraft, cities have been reshaped by the mobility changes resulting from new designs for moving people and goods. This article explores the urbanization impacts of High-Speed Rail’s introduction in China, which has built the world’s largest High-Speed Rail network in record time. Since High-Speed Rail was launched in Japan in 1964, this technology has worked to reshape intercity travel as a revolutionary transportation alternative. High-Speed Rail has developed steadily across Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland during the 1970s and 1980s. It expanded to Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Sweden in the 1990s. In the 21st century, China began developing High-Speed Rail on an unprecedented scale, and now has a national network that is longer than the totality of the rest of the world’s High-Speed Rail operations combined. China’s High-Speed Rail operation is exerting a transformative influence on urban form and function. This article synthesizes secondary research results to analyse the impacts of HSR on urbanization. These effects include population redistribution, urban spatial expansion and industrial development. We offer a typology that considers the urban effects of High-Speed Rail at three spatial levels: the station area, the urban jurisdiction, and the regional agglomeration. When organized through our typology, research findings demonstrate that High-Speed Rail influences urban population size, urban spatial layout and industrial development by changing the accessibility of cities. We highlight the processes by which High-Speed Rail ultimately affects the urbanization process for people, land use, and industrial development. However, High-Speed Rail’s impacts on urbanization are not always positive. While leveraging the development opportunity enabled by High-Speed Rail, governments around the world should also avoid potential negative impacts by drawing lessons from the experience of High-Speed Rail’s rapid deployment in China.


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Original articles

How to Cite

Perl, A., Deng, T., Correa, L., Wang, D., & Yan, Y. (2021). Understanding the urbanization impacts of high-speed rail in China. Archives of Transport, 58(2), 21-34. https://doi.org/10.5604/01.3001.0014.8795


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