General information of transportation in China


Transportation  Updated: Sun, Jul 22, 2012 03:36 AM   By HugChina




Transportation in China has experienced major growth and expansion since 1949 and especially since the early 1980s. Airports, roads, and railway construction including high speed rail (HSR) will provide a massive employment boost in China over the next decade.

Transportation in the People's Republic of China has experienced major growth and expansion since 1949 and especially since the early 1980s. Airports, roads, and railway construction will provide a massive employment boost in China over the next decade.

The physical state and comprehensiveness of China's transportation infrastructure tend to vary widely by geography. While remote, rural areas still largely depend on non-mechanized means of transportation, a modern maglev train system was built in China to connect the city center of Shanghai with its international airport,which is also the first commerical maglev line of the world.

Much of contemporary China's transportation systems have been built since the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. Prior to 1950, there were only 21,800 km of railway lines. In 2009, the railway network has since been expanded to 86,000 km, including several thousand km of high-speed rail.

Although China's transportation system comprises a vast network of transport nodes across its huge territory, the nodes tend to concentrate in the more economically developed coastal areas and inland big cities along major rivers.


Rail is the major mode of transportation in China and an extensive network provides service to the entire nation. Carrying some 24% of the world’s railway transportation volume, China’s railway system is critical to its economy. China has tripled its rail system in length since the mid-twentieth century, now China has the world's second largest rail network, the total track length being at 86,000 km in 2009.

In 2006, China embarked on an ambitious campaign to build passenger-dedicated high-speed rail lines and in response to the global economic recession in 2008, the government accelerated the pace of High-speed rail (HSR) expansion to stimulate economic growth. With generous funding from the Chinese government's economic stimulus program, 17,000 km (11,000 mi) of high-speed lines are now under construction. The entire HSR network will reach 13,000 km (8,100 mi) by 2012 and 16,000 km (9,900 mi) by 2020.

The high speed service is mainly operated by China Railway High-speed. As of July 2012, China has 7,000+ km of rail track capable for 250+ km/h running. Lines capable for 300+ km/h running include:

• Beijing–Tianjin Line, 117 km long

• Wuhan–Guangzhou Line, 968 km long

• Zhengzhou–Xi'an Line, 457 km long

• Shanghai–Nanjing Line, 301 km long

• Shanghai–Hangzhou Line, 160 km long

• Beijing–Shanghai Line, 1302 km long

So far, several very big cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Changchun, Shenyang, Dalian, Chengdu,Chongqing,Nanjing, Wuhan have metro systems in operation, but more than a dozen provincial capitals have metro systems under construction, or in the planning stage.


Rail travel remained the most popular form of transport, but the highway and road system also has gone through rapid expansion, resulting in a rapid increase of motor vehicle use throughout China. The government-led effort — that began in the 1990s — to connect the country by expressways via the "National Trunk Highway System" has expanded the network to more than 65,000 km by the end of 2009, making China's the second longest expressway network in the world (after the United States).

Today, China is linked by a still evolving network of roads (China National Highways) and expressways (Expressways of China). In the past few years, China has been rapidly developing its highway system. China National Highways stretch to all four corners of mainland China. Expressways reach the same destinations as China National Highways, except for the rugged terrain of Tibet. An expressway link is already at the planning stage.

In 2005 China had a total road network of more than 3.3 million km, although approximately 1.47 million km of this network are classified as "village roads". Paved roads totaled 770,265 km in 2004; the remainder were gravel, improved earth standard, or merely earth tracks.

The importance of highways and motor vehicles, which carry 13.5% of cargo and 49.1% of passengers, was growing rapidly in the mid-2000s. Road usage has increased significantly, as automobiles, including privately-owned vehicles, rapidly replace bicycles as the popular vehicle of choice in China. Car ownership is still low in comparison to developed countries, but the expansion is very rapid. In 2009, China surpassed the USA as the biggest auto market of the world.

Bicycle, motor micycle, and electric bicycles
China is the world's leading producer and customer of these three vehicles. They are the major transportation tools for rural china and small and medium sized cities. In big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, provincial capital cities like Wuhan, Xi’an, etc., private automobiles together with public buses and metro system play major roles for routine transportation.


Air travel in China has also experienced significant growth since the late 1990s. by 2007 China had around 500 airports of all types and sizes in operation, about 400 of which had paved runways and about 100 of which had runways of 3,047 m or shorter. There also were 35 heliports in 2007, an increasingly used type of facility. With the additional airports came a proliferation of airlines.

China Aviation system is quite centralized in spite of the efforts to open domestic market to foreign airlines and private business. Starting from 2002, the central administration (CAAC-Civil Aviation Administration of China) has been pushing the merger between the many airlines to form 3 big blocs, Air China, China Eastern and China Southern Airlines. Together with local-funded carriers like Hainan, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xianmen and Shandong, the 3 air giants of China offer satisfactory services to passengers at home and abroad. The fleets consist of new models of Boeing, Airbus and McDonnell Douglas, guaranteeing the service quality and safety.

The total number of planes of all mainland Chinese carriers combined will be near 1,580 by 2010, up from 863 in 2006. By 2025, the figure is estimated to be 4,000.

The twenty seven airlines in the Chinese mainland handled 138 million passengers, and 22.17 million tons of cargo in 2005.

Ports and shipping

China has more than 2,000 ports, 130 of which are open to foreign ships. The major ports, including river ports accessible by ocean-going ships, are Beihai, Dalian, Dandong, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hankou, Huangpu, Jiujiang, Lianyungang, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Rizhao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shantou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Weihai, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Xingang, Yangzhou, Yantai, and Zhanjiang.

China has sixteen "major" shipping ports with a capacity of over 50 million tons per year. Combined China’s total shipping capacity is in excess of 2,890 million tons. By 2010, 35% of the world’s shipping is expected to originate from China. The seven largest port terminals are Dalian, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai. Additionally, Hong Kong is a major international port serving as an important trade center for China.


China has 110,000 kilometers of navigable rivers, streams, lakes, and canals, more than any country in the world. In 2003 these inland waterways carried nearly 1.6 trillion tons of freight and 6.3 trillion passenger/kilometers to more than 5,100 inland ports.

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