Twenty-Four Chinese Cities to Join "Beijing-Shanghai" High-Speed Railway Club

The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, by far the most important and most expensive high-speed train link built in China, will become operational before the end of this month after about three years of construction. Trips between Beijing and Shanghai via train with 300-kilometres an hour operating speed will take less than five hours, compared with two hours by airplane. Some 24 major Chinese cities in eastern China will be joined together by the 1,318-km link, which forms what many call an elite "Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Club."

In addition to passing through China's three megacities Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, the link also runs through Hebei, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu. Jiangsu is a main beneficiary from the railway, with eight of the 24 stops located in the province. This combined with the four stops located in Anhui province and the one stop in Shanghai will raise the total number of stops in the Pan-Yangtze River Delta (including Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and other peripheral regions such as Anhui) to 13, more than half of the total stops. Shandong province, sandwiched between the Yangtze River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin economic sphere, is another potential winner, with six stops located in the province.

Significance:The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway has linked together two of the most prosperous economic spheres in China, the Beijing-Tianjin economic sphere in northern China and the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China. As such, it has been widely anticipated that the new link will play a transformational role in shaping the future economic dynamics in coastal China, by facilitating the integration of two key economic hubs and by creating more spillover effects to regions lying along the sprawling high-speed railway line.

The economic significance is likely to be larger for the less developed areas in Jiangsu and Shandong as well as the rather underdeveloped Anhui province, as this leap forward in logistics and transport connectivity will quite likely facilitate the transfer of capital and industries to those regions from their more prosperous neighbours.

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