Profitable or Not, China Doubles Down on Investments in New Metro Systems

Shanghai Metro

» Central government approves 25 new rail projects in cities across the country, worth hundreds of billions of dollars of new construction.

With China’s growth slowing — a product of internal economic changes as well as the continued poor performance of the U.S. and Europe — the country’s government has decided to accelerate investments in its cities’ rapid transit networks as part of a larger transportation infrastructure program. About $127 billion (or 800 billion yuan) is to be directed over the next three to eight years to build 25 subways and elevated rail lines as a stimulus whose major benefit will be a increase in mobility for the rapidly urbanizing nation.

Though China’s high-speed rail network (now the largest in the world) has garnered most of the headlines when it comes to transportation there, the nation’s investments in urban rail have been just as dramatic and serve far more people

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In China’s High-Speed Successes, a Glimpse of American Difficulties

Shanghai Hongqiao

» With political figures failing to account for the long-term interests of their constituents, the U.S. continues down its confused path.

The opening of the new $32.5 billion Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail link this week marked a significant milestone in the world effort to improve intercity rail systems. Though the development of fast train networks in China has not been without its failings, the connection of the nation’s two largest metropolitan regions — the tenth and nineteenth-largest in the world — is a human achievement of almost unparalleled proportions, especially since it was completed a year earlier than originally planned and just three years after construction began. It comes as the Chinese government celebrates its 90th anniversary.

With ninety daily trains traveling the 819-mile link at average speeds of up to 165 mph, the corridor will likely soon become the most-used high-speed intercity rail connection in the world. Because of safety concerns,

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Hong Kong’s Expanding Metro a Model of Development-Funded Transit

Hong Kong and Shenzhen Metros

» New extensions in central Hong Kong will be mostly funded by development around future stations.

As one of the densest places on earth, it is no surprise that Hong Kong is a transit city, with over 90% of journeys made by public transportation. This concentration ensures high ridership on the city’s extensive MTR metro system. Yet it also increases the cost of line expansions, since building new projects in places that are already packed with people necessitates the creation of tunnels and requires expensive environmental and social remediation.

Hong Kong, however, is going about constructing new projects at a steady pace. At the end of last month, the MTR transit agency approved the construction of the 4.3-mile South Island Line, which will provide service to Aberdeen and other sections of the south side of Hong Kong Island. In addition, the agency will complete a

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China Agrees to Major Investments in Argentina’s Rail and Metro Lines

Cordoba Argentina

» $10 billion spending spree will improve transit in Cordoba and improve branch railway lines. China expects to improve trade relations and open access to natural resources.

Expanding its effort to use infrastructure investments to spread its influence, the Chinese government has agreed to a $10 billion commitment to upgrade a series of intercity rail lines in Argentina and improve urban transit systems in Buenos Aires and Cordoba. Funds come from the China Development Bank and will require a 15% match from the Argentinian government.

This money will not contribute to to the construction of the Buenos Aires-Rosario high-speed line, a separate and currently delayed project.

The effort suggests not only that China is willing and able to contribute its national funds to foreign projects, but also that it intends to structure its investments as an alternative to the World Bank, a grant-making institution that since World War II has

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China Expands Its Investment in Rapid Transit, Paving Way for Future Urban Growth

Rapid Transit in China

» 1,900 miles of rapid transit planned for world’s most populated country by 2015.

Most of China’s growth is concentrated in its large urban centers, which will house fifty percent of the country’s population by 2020 and 75% by 2050. For these increasingly huge megacities, the central government has no choice but to develop adequate measures to transport the population. Following the American model of car dependence is simply not possible because of high densities and inadequate space. With its high-speed rail network, now the longest in the world, the Chinese are providing efficient intercity links into downtowns.

But it’s in urban rail networks that the country has made the biggest strides towards increasing mobility within cities. Shanghai’s huge Metro, the longest on earth, is just one among eleven currently operating in China. Dozens of other cities have rapid transit systems either under construction or in

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  • by Yonah Freemark
  • Twitter: @yfreemark
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