Rail transport in China

The railway network of the People's Republic is ahead of India, the longest in Asia and covers all provinces where Tibet was last connected with a railway line to Lhasa on the railway network. The power quality is of great span: While in some cases already reached international standard and there are also high-speed lines, there are regions where old locomotives and railroad cars on tracks ailing drive, and cities which have almost no rail connections. Until now, the web is largely used only for long-distance transport. The average transport length was in 2005 in the freight transport 770.5 km, 524.7 km in passenger transport. Freight transport is dominated by bulk transport, particularly for coal and ore; General cargo and container shipments found so far taken only partially.


With the founding of the People 's Republic of China in 1949 there was a railway network of 22,000 km in length, but in which the half was not usable. This network has been extended until the year 1997 to more than 60,000 km. The expansion of the railway network had always continued in China and was also a high priority during the Cultural Revolution.

Since the opening of China from 1978 to 2005, the railway network could keep up with the demands of the fast growing economy less and less. The railway network has not expanded fast enough and interference by local interests and clientelism led to an inefficient rail network with an unfavorable structure between the passenger and freight transport. The web has become an obstacle to the economic construction.

As a means to increase the transport capacity of the web, the speed of trains was increased from 1997 to 2006 in six stages, before the first increase in the average speed of trains in the network was 48 km / h In passenger transport, the top speed was above 1997 120 km / h In 2006, there were 6400 km high-speed lines at a speed of at least 200 km / h and over 16,000 km for the 160 km / h In freight transport, h was reached up to 120 km /.

An average growth of 8% in both since 2000 has been personal as well as listed in the freight.

Current Situation

Despite the improvements, the train is still overloaded and this hinders the economic construction. This applies to the passenger, but is particularly true for freight. Due to the transport bottlenecks rail transportation to quotas by the government. Transport of coal have a high priority and must always be carried out, less important shipments need, sometimes very long wait. Under the given conditions, a reliable container transport is not possible through the web. It is estimated that the web is not even mastered half of the requested traffic. Due to lack of transport capacity transport is laid on the highways and waterways. Due to the rising wages and land prices in coastal regions move their manufacturing companies increasingly into the hinterland. Even the greatest benefit from the inland waterway and road transport by truck. In heavy bulk material such as coal or iron ore train transport plays a larger role only. In addition, the rail network in comparison to other means of transport even in the coastal region has little meaning. The poorly -developed routes allow only small velocities. So a container of Hong Kong needs to Shanghai by train five days. Although the water transport takes similarly long, but it is much cheaper. Thus, the attractiveness of rail transport is limited. Optimization of traffic on the existing tracks is only very limited. The Chinese railway transported on each track an average of 42 million passengers and tons of freight per year. This is the highest percentage in the world. The USA accounts for about 15 million and 3 million Europe This means the Chinese railway lines with more than 100 000 passengers or tons of cargo per day track and largely utilized to overloaded. In addition, the Chinese railway network is too small. Per million inhabitants includes the Chinese railway network 50 km, 780 km, the U.S. and the European 420 km.

Acceleration of the expansion of rail To address this problem to master, a high priority has been assigned to the five-year plan from 2001 to 2005 the web and the adopted " Medium-and long -term development plan for the expansion of the railway " in 2004. It included a massive expansion of the railway network. By 2020, the country's development should not be hinder by the lack of rail capacity. In 2008, the plan was revised and as an essential part of the government's economic stimulus program, continued to accelerate the expansion of the rail. The investments in rail were increased for the years 2009 and 2010 from 345 or 480 to 600 billion RMB or 823 billion RMB (about 80 billion or 110 billion euros ). Thus the railway investments were in 2010 alone, more than twice as high as for the entire five-year plan 2001 to 2005.

To enable the rapid expansion of the web, the existing bureaucracy and the excessive influence of local party organizations were reduced to the railway expansion, often blocked parent solutions. The course was designed by a state-owned monopoly enterprises in a market-oriented company, which was open to strategic investors reorganized. To this end, the administration has been reduced from four to three levels, the level of the Sub - Bureau was abolished in 2005.

Main features of the railway in China for the year 2011 were:

  • Track length: 93.2 thousand km
  • 1.76 million employees
  • 1.86 billion passengers
  • 52 838 passenger cars

The development goals by 2020

By 2020, the railway will be expanded as follows:

Separation of passenger and freight traffic on the main routes of To increase the capacity and speed of travel should use freight traffic on the main routes different tracks persons and property.

Construction of high-speed Plug High-speed lines (speed at least 200 km / h) are either regional PDLs ( only approved for passenger transport routes ), InterCity routes or routes for both passenger as well as cargo transport. The plan calls for 50000 km high-speed lines, of which 16000 km on regional PDLs. A number of PDLs and intercity lines reach a maximum speed of 350 km / hr, eg the high-speed Beijing- Shanghai or the route between Beijing and Guangzhou

Currently ( as of 2008) there are four different vehicle series for speeds over 200 km / h They are all based on a technology transfer, that is, they were not developed in China. The trains carry in the country the names CRH1 to CRH5, with the digit " 4" was omitted as an unlucky number. The CRH1 with Bombardier's technology is designed for a maximum speed of 250 km / hr. The CRH2 is taken from the Shinkansen family from Japan and achieved depending on the version up to 350 km / h the CRH3 Siemens reaches up to 350 km / h, and the CRH5 Alstom 250 km / h




Construction of intercity routes in metropolitan areas Intercity trains run regionally in urban centers. The track length is not longer than 300 km normally. Intercity trains are used in almost every major city. New lines are currently under construction and many existing lines will be upgraded to higher speeds. An example of a new intercity line is the high-speed line between Beijing and Tianjin. Through high-speed rails and roads coherent economic zones and groups of cities develop where the large cities are relieved by the development of satellite towns of several individual cities. As an example of such a metropolitan area, all cities in the delta of the Yangtze River are "one- hour - drive - network " with Shanghai already connected by a center with each other and between Shanghai and Nanjing from 2010 InterCity train at 300 km / h run. Also in the Pearl River Delta in southern China there is such a " network " with the city of Guangzhou as a hub.

Development of inter-regional corridors The railway network in western China planned to extend the rail network in central and eastern China should be improved. Overall, the construction of 41,000 kilometers of new railway lines is planned (of 79000 ( in 2008) to 120,000 km grid size). Along the railway lines of economic development should be particularly encouraged.

Expansion of coal transport routes There are additional capacity for freight transport. For this, the existing coal transport routes are to be expanded and new coal corridors to be built. The new buildings are to run particularly from the province of Shaanxi to the coast and central China. The coal transport corridors to reach an annual capacity of about 2.3 billion tons. For comparison: In 2005, 2.7 billion tons of goods were transported from the Chinese web.

Development of container transport It is built with a length of 16000 km there is a network for container trains with containers in two layers. So far there because of insufficient transport capacity with priority coal trains only minor trucking.

Additional expansion of the existing rail network In the existing network to the proportion of more than single-track lines from 19000 km to 60000 km, and the electrified lines of 25,000 km along more than 70,000 km can be enlarged. The railway network in western China will be expanded to 40000 km in length.

Types of trains in long-distance transport

In China, there are a total of 7 types of trains for long-distance traffic, which differ in speed, number of stops and comfort. Generally, the trains run frequently over very long distances, so often sleeper be carried. The trains are on the train number presented letters recognizable. Distinction is the one between the high-speed trains, which are divided into two categories and are operated by CRH:

  • G- trains (高 铁, gaotie, High Speed ​​Train ) are the fastest trains and keep only a few stations. There are only seats that are distinguished as in the plane to three classes. Comparable are G- trains with the German ICE Sprinters and run for example, between Shanghai and Beijing
  • D trains (动 车, Dongche, not entertaining train ) often go to the same foot routes such as G- trains, but are slower and stop at more intermediate stops, comparable to the German ICE.

On the other hand, there are regular trains that run on the existing routes and are distinguishable in 5 genera:

  • Z- trains (直达, zhida, direct train ) are pure sleeper trains from soft and hard sleeper and only run overnight on medium range, for example between Beijing and Harbin
  • T- trains (特快, tekuai, particularly fast train ) are comparable with German IC / ECs. Perform soft seats, hard seats, soft sleeper and hard sleeper cars and drive often over very long Diszanzen (eg Lhasa - Guangzhou)
  • K- trains (快速, kuaisu, express ) are slightly slower than T- trains, similar to IR trains.
  • There are also L- trains and trains without number (其他together, qita ( other ) ). They are even slower than K Trains and the cheapest train type and do not have air conditioning.

Interim results of the network plan by 2012

Following intermediate results are to be achieved by the year 2012:

  • Expansion of the rail network to 110,000 km. Half of the routes are electrified and expanded more than one lane.
  • Nationwide PDLs and intercity routes should be expanded to 10,000 km. The PDL network of four vertical and four horizontal corridors will be completed in the basic level.
  • The bottleneck in the transport of goods shall be at least mitigated.

See also: eight vertical and eight horizontal lines


The People's Republic of China is investing up to 2020 5 trillion yuan ( $ 730 billion ) to build the Chinese Railways. The railway, which bottlenecks the economy hamper so far, is in the implementation of national strategies such as the development of sparsely populated western China, the economic development of the populous but of today economically backward central China or the further development of economic centers on the east coast an important role taking. However, the railway network is also still heavily burdened in 2020 and the route network based still be small to the large population and the size of China. This also shows a comparison with the route network of the Deutsche Bahn. The network of German rail comprises about 35000 km, the Chinese in 2020 to about 120000 km.


  • On July 23, 2011, an express train accident near Wenzhou in China, as a Chinese high-speed train drove into a bridge on a stationary train. Four carriages plunged into the deep, 39 people were killed and 192 injured. After a signal system was struck by lightning, left a signal in the " free" even though the block section that it should cover, was still occupied by a lie by lightning damage stranded train. → Main article: Railway accident in Wenzhou