China High-Speed Rail Network is world leading, currently covering much of the eastern China and connecting over 100 cities. As is stereotypical of current development in China this was built in only 5 years. A feat that is simply unheard of in many western countries as is shown by the long-running debate of the English high speed rail proposal. (Stone, 2014)
Currently carries 2 million people daily (The Hindu, 2014). Plans were recently confirmed to double the size of the current network at the cost of £60 billion. (Stone. 2014)
In such as vast country this infrastructure is been seen as a huge benefit from many different viewpoints
Economically, this drive to modernisation has furthered economic development in existing economic hubs as well as provided a catalyst for growth in many new areas. The opening up of connections has allowed business practises to become more efficient as allows transport between important cities in a matter of hours and low cost. Business users are switching from air transport to using this high speed rail as they find the more relaxed security practises and uninterrupted mobile phone connectivity more preferable (Mitchell, 2014). They also find the high speed railway is more reliable in the midst of the pollution crisis this problem is only going to be compounded (BBC, 2014).This reduction in air services demand is however putting pressure on the profitability of airlines (Mitchell, 2014).
As China continues to develop, its hunger for raw materials grows thus this new transportation development is hugely beneficial. As has been seen in the Xingjiang region which has 40% of country coal. Existing infrastructure would often get bottle necked but this bullet train will allow the exploitation of the huge demand for coal in the east (The Economist, 2014).
Cross country Applications to use the high speed rail network to connect Southeast-Asia for trade. Particularly appealing for land locked Laos, creating huge developmental opportunities. Currently an agricultural nation, has resources and minerals such as rubber that china desperately need and with the transportation this could become viable. But there are issues such as the social impact of being so accessible to china in terms of tourism, migration and cultural differences. There is a huge finical burden of these proposed plan, the current funding solution is to borrow £4.5 billion with is nearly 90% of GDP (Eimer, 2014)
The huge spatial region of china can often result is a fragmentation of cultures, thus the increase in connectivity within the country is been said to unite its people by knitting the country together (the Hindu, 2014). This is hugely important from a social perspective and a political perspective in terms of governing. It does however allow existing tensions to become more fraught, in Tibet for example there are no plans to extend the rail network to the region meaning in a few years it will be the only province without a high-speed connection. (The Economist, 2013)
This high-speed network is also of “immense strategic military value” becoming major transport force for people liberation Army (PLA). The fast movement also allows to easily avoid enemy tracking (The Hindu, 2014) A china develops it is facing numerous potential conflicts as is being seen with the current debate over Chinese sea, thus this resource is likely to become invaluable from a military perspective.
This development has not been without its problems, the enormity of the cost of the project creates a huge funding issue. The construction has to overcome environmental barriers such building in mountainous and earthquake zones (The Economist, 2013) . And like much of china currently, planning and management has been plagued with corruption (Stone, 2014). These issues manifested in the crash in 2011 which killed 40 people and injured 172 (Stone, 2014)
Like all transportation mechanism, train networks are very vulnerable to terrorist attacks as shown with events worldwide. For example, the London 7/7 attacks. Most recently in China this was shown by the massacre of 33 people at Kunming station by separatist in the region (Ng, 2014)
BBC (2013) Northern China smog closes schools and airport in Harbin. Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-24579101 [Accessed 26 February 2014]
Eimer, D. ( 2014) China’s 120mph railway arriving in Laos, The Telegraph, 14 Jan. Available from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/laos/10572583/Chinas-120mph-railway-arriving-in-Laos.html [Accessed 05 March 2014]
Mitchel, T (2014) China Accelerates airport building, Finical Times, 10 Feb. Available from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fedb9308-8501-11e3-8968-00144feab7de.html#axzz2v7FLrXMP [Accessed 05 March 2014]
Stone, M (2012) China High-Speed Rail Network to be doubled, Sky News, 14 Jan. Available from http://news.sky.com/story/1194709/china-high-speed-rail-network-to-be-doubled [Accessed 05 March 2014]
The Economist (2013) Faster than a speeding bullet, The Economist, 9 Nov. Available from http://www.economist.com/news/china/21589447-chinas-new-rail-network-already-worlds-longest-will-soon-stretch-considerably-farther-faster [Accessed 05 March]
The Hindu (2014) High-speed rail has ‘immense strategic military value’: China. Available from http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/highspeed-rail-has-immense-strategic-military-value-china/article5663232.ece [Accessed 05 March 2014]
Ng, T. (2014) One female suspect in custody after 33 are killed in Kunming station massacre, South China Morning Post, 2 March. Available from http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1438306/34-dead-130-injured-knife-attack-kunming-railway-station [Accessed 05 March 2014]