A new high-speed train route from Shanghai to Guangzhou opened recently, covering a distance of about 1,100 miles. This distance is roughly the same as traveling from Los Angeles to Seattle. How long does it take to cover the 1,100 miles in China?
Looks like about 7 hours, which would be much faster than driving and far less stressful. Even the old, slow train took about 16 hours, so 7 is a huge improvement. In 2012, a high-speed rail route from Beijing to Guangzhou also opened, covering over 1,400 miles in approximately 8 hours.
Shanghai now has a population of over 23 million and has been growing rapidly economically as well. It is a coastal megacity and important seaport, so adding rail routes seems to be a sensible move. Its public transportation system has been said to be larger than London’s and it apparently has more skyscrapers than New York.
The human population has almost doubled since 1987. Some projections have said the population could hit 50 million by 2050. Most of the residents are Han Chinese and many are also migrants from rural areas.
Over 30 other high-speed rail routes were opened in China this month as well. Actually, it opened them all within a week!
China has such a high human population density that investing in rail to move large numbers of people seems entirely sensible, rather than trying to rely only on personal vehicles and constructing freeways and roads.
High-speed rail has some issues too, though. A UC-Berkeley research report found that it is a better choice under a particular condition. “The ITS researchers found that high-speed rail has the potential to be the lowest energy consumer and greenhouse gas emitter only if it consistently travels at high occupancy or uses a low-emission electricity source such as wind, both of which will require appropriate planning and continued investment.”
Back to Shanghai, the first commercial rail line in Shanghai opened in 1876 and traveled about nine miles.
Image by Bergmann, via Wiki Commons
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