The Impacts of High-Speed Rail on Regional Accessibility and Spatial Development—Updated Evidence from China's Mid-Yangtze River City-Cluster Region

Liwen Liu, Ming Zhang
2021 Sustainability  
There has been long and ongoing interest in the impacts of high-speed rail (HSR) on regional spatial development. Most existing studies, however, reported findings at relatively coarse geographic scales, i.e., at the prefecture-city or above level in the Chinese context. This paper presents the empirical evidence of HSR impacts from the county-level cities in China's Mid-Yangtze River City-Cluster Region (MYRCCR). The study utilized rail time data and the socio-economic data for MYRCCR's 185
more » ... for MYRCCR's 185 county-level cities in the years of 2006 (without HSR) and 2014 (with HSR) and analyzed the impacts of HSR on inter-city travel times, accessibility, spatial inequality, and regional economic linkages among the MYRCCR cities. The results show that, from 2006 to 2014, HSR reduced city-to-city average travel time by 34.5% or 124 min and improved accessibility to all cities in the MYRCCR. HSR's impacts on accessibility and spatial equality exhibited a scale-differentiated pattern. MYRCCR-wide, HSR transformed a pattern of spatial polarization towards the one of corridorization. Cities located on major HSR corridors became more balanced in 2014 than in 2006. Nevertheless, at the county-city level, the gap between cities with the most and the least accessibility gains was much greater than the gap between those with the largest and the smallest travel time savings. Attributable to HSR services, the intensity of economic linkage increased between MYRCCR cities, especially between the provincial capital cities and those on the major lines of the national HSR grid, which implies an emerging process towards territorial cohesion in MYRCCR. National, provincial, and local governments should consider transportation as well as non-transportation policies and measures to direct HSR impacts towards further enhanced spatial development and regional equality.
doi:10.3390/su13084227 fatcat:wqzohobi7fco7lcpdlnwlxrvjm