Keeping Pace with a Changing China

China Plus Published: 2018-12-05 18:12:30
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So the trains ran faster — but where and how? Explore more details, more stations, and more destinations. Whereas passengers of the 1970s travelled on slower trains from more humble stations, High Speed megahubs now dot the country.

Chinese economic reforms started in southern China, in Shenzhen, and right along the coast, development kind of made itself to other places, including, of course, Shanghai. And we're of course at the city's main High Speed hub, where there's a train — a High Speed service — moving every one or two minutes or so, a very, very busy station over 30 platforms. Let's take a look at how Chinese railways developed at the very start of the reforms, when these trains weren't there, and were replaced mostly by the green Classic ones.

The pressure was on to make the railways more relevant again in the 1990s as other means of transport rapidly caught up. Trains had to go faster, and there was also great pressure in getting passengers places as well. The new, 2010 Guangzhou South Railway Station was a godsend for the southern Chinese megacity, which would always see its old main station struggle with crowds around Spring Festival. In the 1970s, a train trip to Hong Kong was an exotic luxury. Today, West Kowloon station in Hong Kong is tied into the nationwide network, with frequent departures throughout the entire day.

The real rail move also saw China's trains go faster, reaching more destinations. Before the 2008 introduction of truly High Speed services, around 10,000 km of the network benefitted from the many speed-up campaigns. Average train speeds went up by around 50% across the network. These were the moves that were felt by many.

And of course, this is just the start of the real rail move across China as the network starts going further west toward the inlands, and towards the Great Northwest as well. That's it from Shanghai Hongqiao — I'll see you at the next station on our rail move across China.

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