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High-Speed Rail: The Fast Track to Economic Development?(World Bank, Beijing, 2010-07) Amos, Paul ; Bullock, Dick ; Sondhi, JitendraA high-speed rail service can deliver competitive advantage over airlines for journeys of up to about 3 hours or 750 km, particularly between city pairs where airports are located far from city centres. One suitable type of corridor is that which connects two large cities 250-500 km apart. But another promising situation is a longer corridor that has very large urban centres located, say, every 150-300 km apart. On these longer corridors, typical of some being built in China, high-speed rail has the ability to serve multiple city-pairs, both direct and overlapping. The overall financial performance of high-speed train services depends on enough people being able to pay a premium to use them. In Japan there is a surcharge for high-speed rail which doubles the fare on conventional services. China high-speed train fares are about three times conventional train fares. But in order to generate the required volume of passengers it will usually be necessary not only to target the most affluent travelers but also to adopt a fare structure that is affordable for the middle income population and, if any spare capacity still exists, to offer discount tickets with restrictions on use and availability that can fill otherwise unused seats. The combination of supportive features that exist on the eastern plains of China including very high population density, rapidly growing disposable incomes, and the prevalence of many large cities in reasonable proximity to one another (creating not just one city-pair but a string of such pairs) are not found in most developing countries. Nor could all countries assemble the focused collective capacity building effort and the economies of scale in construction costs that arise when a government can commit the country, politically and economically, to a decades-long program over a vast land area. Even in China, the sustainability of railway debt arising from the program as it proceeds will need to be closely monitored and payback periods will not be short, as they cannot be for such "lumpy" and long-lived assets. But a combination of those factors that create favorable conditions of both demand and supply comes together in China in a way that is distinctly favorable to delivering a successful high-speed rail system.
Domestic Trade Impacts of the Expansion of the National Expressway Network in China(Washington, DC, 2007-06) World BankChina's outstanding achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction over the last fifteen years have been well documented. A major element of that growth consisted of the development of its infrastructure, particularly transport. All modes of transport have seen their networks expanded, to provide the infrastructure needed to support the broader development goals. Among the surface modes (excluding pipelines or waterways), road transport has seen its share grow from 45 percent to 60 percent in terms of passenger-km and from 24 percent to 30 percent in terms of freight ton-km. From 1990 to 2005, during the period of the 8th, 9th and 10th Five-Year Plans, China completed nearly 41,000 km of high-grade tolled expressways comprising the national trunk highway system (NTHS), or as it is now called, the national expressway network (NEN). During this period approximately 400,000 km of local and township roads were also improved. This was achieved by investing upwards of US$40 billion per year, with about one third of that amount allocated to development of the NEN. Behind this overall strategy, the expressway plan seeks to connect all cities with more than 200,000 people, serving as facilitator of economic and social interactions as the economy comes to rely more and more on road transport. In prioritizing the selection of cities (nodes) to be connected, the planning process has incorporated economic and transport objectives (including trade and container traffic requirements, and tourism needs), giving special consideration to poorer regions and environmental issues. This will improve the regional integration of the economy and allow growth dynamics to expand from the coastal regions to the interior and western parts of the country.
Roads Improvement for Poverty Alleviation in China(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-05) Hajj, Hatim ; Pendakur, V. SettyIn China, rural road improvements have been integrated with major highway projects, implemented with World Bank assistance, during 1995-98. These improvements were called, "Roads Improvement for Poverty Alleviation (RIPA)," and were linked to on-going poverty alleviation programs. These Bank assisted projects are in five provinces of China: Gansu, Henan, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Shaanxi. RIPA concentrates on linking those rural villages and townships which do not currently have basic all weather access to the existing road networks of a higher order. This report focuses, from a conceptual analytical, and methodological viewpoint upon the RIPA experience in the above-mentioned Bank-assisted projects in China. It also describes the background to poverty alleviation programs and the linkages to roads improvement in China. It reviews current practices and recommends appropriate design standards, and a framework of monitoring indicators. This report focuses on those road systems which provide easy access to the rural population in designated poor counties in China. The primary objectives are to provide a conceptual framework for RIPA, describe Chinese poverty alleviation policies linked to roads improvement, and discuss the potential for replicating RIPA in other countries. Other aims are to develop screening and an analytical framework for appraising road systems, and appropriately design and monitor different classes of RIPA roads.