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In 1978, the Chinese government made extensive reforms for the reconstruction of the transportation system in the country, such as the introduction of substantial deregulation of the transportation system. After the reforms, the country's transportation industry is progressing towards development, especially in the field of railway, highway, port, and aviation.
In recent years, with the diversification in people's transportation requirements, technologies like intelligent traffic management have developed rapidly. In the face of future traffic development, ground-level policies are proposed to reduce the congestion in major cities.
The rate of urbanization is still high and transportation plays a crucial role in economic development and improving the quality of life. Chinese society is continuously mitigating the transportation problems and challenges while creating a sustainable transportation system.
The transportation service is enhanced by adjusting the urban form and land-use, giving priority to public transport, encouraging the use of bicycles, improving the comprehensive transport hub, and changing people's behavior. The keyword is integration, which stands for integration of land use and transport, different transport modes, transport hubs, and all urban planning.
By the end of 2018, the number of Chinese cities was 653. The urban population was 749 million and the urban built-up area was 46,000 km2. In comparison with the numbers in 1978, this shows an increase of 3.4 times, 4.3 times, and 9.1 times, respectively. As stated earlier, in 1978, major reforms began in China and by the end of 1978, the number of Chinese cities was 194, the urban population was 172 million and the urban built-up area was 5000 km2.
1. Transportation System
The transportation system of every country includes railways, highways, ports, and aviation. Talking about the motor vehicle ownership in the country, by the end of May 2018, the number stood at 270 million, out of which car ownership was 162 million, making 59.91% of motor vehicle ownership, small passenger car ownership was 125 million, and motorcycle ownership was 90.64 million. The motor vehicle ownership in 2018 was 199 times and small passenger car ownership was 483 times as compared to the figures of 1978.
By the end of 2018, China's railway mileage reached 212,000 km and electrification mileage reached 165,000 km, accounting for 78% of the railway mileage. The electrification mileage saw an increase of 16.9% in comparison with the previous year, and the newly constructed railway mileage reached 8,427 km. The high-speed railway operating mileage was 46,000 km (accounting for more than 60% of the global share). Thus, by looking at the pace of railway construction in the past years, the total railway construction investment has reached a cost of ¥808,800,000.
The national railway locomotive ownership is 21,100 units, of which 8423 units are high power locomotive (China railway high-speed) named as "harmony". The railway passenger vehicle ownership is 60,600 units and railway wagon vehicle ownership is 710,100 units.
In 2018, 55 railway technical standards containing high-speed railway design code and intercity railway design specification were published, English translation and publication works for 54 technical standards were also completed. China also hosted ten international standard-setting works of the International Union of Railways (UIC) and nine that of the International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC).
In 2018, four patents were awarded as the sixteenth China Patent Award of Excellence. Also, five scientific and technological achievements in the railway industry won the 2018 National Science and Technology Award. These works included:
- Research and application of a series of high-power AC drive electric locomotive based on an autonomous technology platform
- Comprehensive inspection and assessment of key infrastructure facilities in high-speed railway
- Complete engineering technology for super-large diameter Yangtze river shield tunnel on high water pressure
- Shallow overburden soil complex terrain geology
- Upgraded version project of China railway technology innovation system.
To see the growth of railway construction, China had developed some of the world’s best railway networks, such as China's Qinghai-Tibet Railway network. This railway project overcomes three major world engineering problems: permafrost, alpine hypoxia, ecological vulnerability, which is an unprecedented feat in the history of railway construction. Similarly, the high-speed railway's independent environmental protection technology and the role of improving local economic and social development have been recognized internationally.
Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway project adopts independent innovation of high-speed railway technology including soft soil foundation reinforcement, rail technology, communication system, signal system operation, control mode, etc. The project eases the congestion of the Beijing-Shanghai channel, gains remarkable social and economic benefits, and reaches a world-class level in independent innovation technology.
By the end of 2018, the national highway mileage reached 6,463,900 km. The national highway density was 66.50 km/100 km2, and expressway mileage reached 311,900 km. National rural highway (including county roads, township roads, and village roads) reached 5,881,600 km.
China's highway construction technology has reached an advanced level. The following are some of the cases depicting the same:
- The Su Tong Bridge, between the Nantong City and Changshu City, is the largest bridge construction project with a total length of 32.4 km. It was built under the most complex construction conditions in the history of China’s bridge construction. It holds four world records, including maximum group pile foundation, tallest bridge towers (300.4 m), longest stay cable (557 m) of the maximum main span.
- Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge has a total length of about 15.6 km, of which 4.7 km length of the bridge was constructed over the River. It is the first steel tower cable-stayed bridge in China and the first arc-shaped steel tower cable-stayed bridge globally.
- Qinling-Mountain Zhongnan tunnel with a length of 18.02 km is the longest tunnel in Asia, ranking second after the longest tunnel of Norway Nordahl tunnel (24.51 km). It overcomes construction problems as fault, water inrush, rock burst, and major operation technical problems as ventilation, fire, and monitoring, and takes China's tunnel construction to a new level.
By the end of 2018, the national inland waterway navigation mileage reached 166,300 km. Mileage of waterway with grade is 65,400 km, accounting for 51.8% of all waterway. The navigable mileage of inland waterways in each grade are: first-grade channel 1341 km, second-grade channel 3443 km, third-grade channel 6069 km, fourth-grade channel 9301 km, fifth-grade channel 8298 km, sixth-grade channel 18,997 km, seventh-grade channel 17,913 km.
By the end of 2018, the national port had 31,705 berths for production, among which 5834 were coastal ports for production and 25,871 were inland ports for production. There were 2110 berths owning cargo handling capacity over one thousand tons nationwide, among which 1704 were coastal ports, and 406 were inland ports.
Nationwide, the ports finish cargo throughput of 12.452 billion tons in 2018, in which coastal ports complete 8.033 billion tons and inland ports complete 4.419 billion tons. The ports complete the passenger throughput of 183,000,000 people, in which, costal ports complete 81,000,000 and inland ports complete 102,000,000. According to the 2018 World Port Cargo throughput ranking, China has eight of the top ten ports, and Zhoushan port ranks first. As per the container throughput ranking, China has seven of the top ten, with Shanghai port ranking first.
By the end of 2018, China had developed 202 civil airports with certification, including 200 airports and 198 cities with a scheduled flight. 64 navigable airports have passenger throughput of over one million, which is an increase of 4% compared to the previous year. 24 navigable airports have passenger throughput of over ten million, and 50 navigable airports have cargo throughput of over 10,000 tons.
National civil aviation completes passenger transport volume of 390,000,000 person-time, passenger turnover volume of 633.42 billion person x kilometer, cargo and mail transport volume of 5,941,000 tons, and cargo and mail turnover volume of 18.78 billion tons x kilometer. (Here, person x kilometer is the distance traveled by the person on transit vehicle and it is calculated by multiplying the total number of passenger trips by the total average length of their trips).
Civil aviation completes passenger throughput of 832 million person-time, which is an increase of 10.2% compared to the previous year; it also completes total cargo throughput of 13,561,000 tons, which is an increase of 7.8%.
In 2018, Beijing Capital Airport passenger throughput ranked second for five consecutive years, completing total passenger throughput of 86,128,000 and international passenger volume reaching 20,730,000 person-time.
2. Development Strategy of Transportation in China
The development strategy and policy prospect of transportation in China are reflected in the following six aspects:
I. Insisting on the development of a new type of urbanization and playing the guiding role of the transportation system in urban development includes:
- Undertaking a new type of construction for a reasonable city and promoting the coordinated development of large, medium, and small cities. Also, adjusting the development strategies of transportation to better play the supporting and guiding role for urban development.
- Constructing compact cities, applying transit-oriented development strategies, curbing the disordered trend of expanding cities. Thereby, developing the cities in a compact and orderly way along the corridors of high-capacity public transportation.
- Considering spatial structure and the adjustment of industry layout to optimize the function of cities and urban agglomerations and balance the public service resources.
- Establishing and completing the traffic impact assessment system.
II. Adjusting the transportation supply strategies, encouraging low-carbon transportation, and giving priority to the development of public transport is done by:
- Formulating classified guidance policy on traffic development patterns.
- Establishing the transportation construction investment guarantee system adapted for urbanization and socio-economic development process.
- Actively promoting the construction of rail transit and making full use of its critical role in the comprehensive transportation system of large cities and its guiding role in developing urban agglomeration.
- Further promoting the development of conventional public transportation and improving its accessibility and service level.
- Implementing strategies of priority for walking and bicycle and improving traffic environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
III. Strengthening traffic demand management and inhibiting the excessive use of private vehicles by:
- Formulating differentiated policies of car ownership and use for different regions and different types of cities. Thus, providing a role for regulating the market for allocation of resources, establishing and completing the traffic demand management system.
- Implementation of different parking pricing strategies.
IV. Paying attention to the planning and construction of an integrated transport hub and promoting the integration of the hubs by
- Paying attention to the seamless connection of various transportation modes and improving the level of the planning and construction of the integrated transportation hub.
- Optimizing the layout of integrated transport hubs, strengthening the integration of business, office and other functions in the hub and the surrounding areas, leading the adjustment of urban spatial structure.
V. Implementation of stringent policies for protecting the environment and saving energy, and promoting the application of advanced technologies by:
- Promotion of clean energy vehicles and traffic modes with low energy consumption and low pollution, and reasonably raising vehicle emission and fuel standards.
- Promoting and improving the construction of urban transportation system of the smart city, improving the technological aspect of traffic management and decision-making, and ameliorating the operation of the transportation system.
VI. Strengthening policy guidance and perfecting coordination mechanism by:
- Formulating the policy for differentially classified guidance according to the traffic development patterns.
- Establishing a robust mechanism for collaborative development of transport systems in urban agglomerations.
The Qinghai-Tibet railway transportation overcomes three major world engineering problems:
2. Alpine hypoxia
3. Ecological vulnerability
Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway project eases the tension of Beijing-Shanghai channel capacity and gains remarkable social and economic benefits.
The Su Tong Bridge located in Nantong city of Jiangsu Province, with a total length of 32.4 km, is the longest bridge in China.
Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is the first arc-shaped steel tower cable-stayed bridge in the world with a total length of 15.6 km.
The Qinling-Mountain Zhongnan tunnel, with a length of 18.02 km, is the longest tunnel in Asia. It is also the second-longest tunnel in the world.