China has seen a rapid expansion of its high-speed train rails in the last five years. This efficient method of transportation is redefining how both Chinese nationals and tourists travel through China. This obviously also indicates how Chinese infrastructure in and of itself has developed and continued to evolve in a continually changing socioeconomic climate.
China is a country defined by travel. As we know, the internal migration in China is the largest human migration in history. High-speed trains are facilitating this movement. At the end of 2013, China had 11,000 kilometers of high-speed rail. Now, in a little over a year, there are more than 16,000 kilometers, and the tracks will undoubtedly continue to expand.
The Beijing to Shanghai route alone had over 100 million trips during this same year. This line has been in service since 2011, but it hasn’t made a profit until now. Although not a particularly common route for migration, tourism is also benefitting greatly from these investments in infrastructure and contributing to the travel numbers.
Tourism is a large sector of the Chinese economy; therefore increasing a common mode of transportation decreases the costs but also increases demand by allowing easier access. It’s a win win situation. Ticket prices are also incredibly low and continually being pushed down, yet volumes are ever increasing. The combination of both these factors is at the point where Chinese travel companies are beginning to market trips around train lines. CTrip, one such company, offers 385 different train tour package deals. And to top it off, these new high-speed rails are allowing easier access to less travelled destination within China.
In all, much of what China has been doing economically is heavy investment in nationwide projects. Chinese officials obviously believe that greater cohesion across the country will pay dividends. These new railroad projects are holistic realizations of these goals. Infrastructure is developed, and economic expansion follows: common theme seen in China. The same idea is behind recent economic zone plans as well. But a more widely developed China, the clear next stage in the plan, is one way how China will cope with the inevitable slowdown of its economy. Bigger, it seems, is better.