High-speed rail as a solution to metropolitan passenger mobility: The case of Shenzhen-Dongguan-Huizhou metropolitan area

Xiongbin Lin, Jiawen Yang, Ian MacLachlan


High-speed rail (HSR) has played an important role in China’s long-distance travel. However, the potential of this transport technology to meet the demand of passenger mobility at the metropolitan scale is still unclear. This research examines this potential by studying transportation investment for intercity passenger mobility in the Shenzhen-Dongguan-Huizhou Metropolitan Area, where multiple fixed guideway transit systems have been proposed and HSR service has been implemented to carry passengers between central Shenzhen and outer portions of this metropolitan region. Comparison of alternative modes explains why HSR is competitive at the metropolitan scale. Interviews with relevant stakeholders reveal the institutional conditions for utilizing the national HSR system for regional passenger mobility.


Inter-city Rail Transit; Multilevel Governance; Policy Analysis; Pearl River Delta

Full Text:



Armstrong, R. J., & Rodríguez, D. A. (2006). An evaluation of the accessibility benefits of commuter rail in Eastern Massachusetts using spatial hedonic price functions. Transportation, 33(1), 21–43. doi: 10.1007/s11116-005-0949-x

Bendibao. (2016, September). The operation of Shenzhen-Huizhou-Shanwei intercity HSR has been scheduled. Retrieved from http://jt.sz.bendibao.com/news/2016921/781369.htm

Cervero, R., & Duncan. M. (2002). Transit’s value-added effects: Light and commuter rail services and commercial land values. Transportation Research Record, 1805, 8–15. doi: org/10.3141/1805-02

Cervero, R. (2013). Linking urban transport and land use in developing countries. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 6(1), 7–24. doi: 10.5198/jtlu.v6i1.425

Charles, M. B., Ryan, N., & Kivits, R. A. (2012). Moving towards sustainable intercity transport: A case study of high-speed rail in Australia. International Journal of Sustainable Development, 15, 125–147. doi: 10.1504/IJSD.2012.044038

China Association of Metros. (2018). Overview of urban rail transit in mainland China in 2017. China Metros, 1, 16–21. doi: 10.14052/j.cnki.china.metros.2018.01.004

Diao, M., Zhu, Y., & Zhu, J. (2017). Intra-city access to intercity transport nodes: The implications of high-speed-rail station locations for the urban development of Chinese cities. Urban Studies, 54(10), 2249–2267. doi: 10.1177/0042098016646686

Didi Chuxing. (2017-May). The scale of intercity commuting in the Greater Pearl River Delta was triple than that in 2016. Retrieved from http://static.nfapp.southcn.com/content/201705/11/c418557.html

Deka, D. (2012). The impacts of non-resident parking restrictions at commuter rail stations. Journal of Transport Geography, 24, 451–461. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2012.05.004

Dongguan Daily. (2012-May). Considerable benefits of intercity cooperation within Shenzhen-Dongguan-Huizhou metropolitan area. Retrieved from http://epaper.timedg.com/html/2012-05/17/content_967755.htm

Dongguan Daily. (2013-Aug.). A global industrial base was planned in Shenzhen-Dongguan-Huizhou metropolitan area. Retrieved from http://epaper.timedg.com/html/2013-08/08/content_1204983.htm

Fan, Y., Guthrie, A., & Levinson, D. (2012). Impact of light rail implementation on regional labor market accessibility: A transportation equity perspective. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 5(3), 28–39. doi: 10.5198/jtlu.v5i3.240

Guangdong Government. (2008). Guangdong Government’s outline for the reform and development of the Pearl River Delta, 2008. Guangzhou, Guangdong Province: Guangdong Government.

Guangdong Government. (2005). The intercity rail transit network plan of the Pearl River Delta (2005-2020). Guangzhou, Guangdong Province: Guangdong Government.

Geloso, V. (2012). Intercity bus services in Canada: Time for deregulation. Economic Affairs, 32(1), 38–42. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0270.2011.02126.x

Huizhou News. (2016-Sept.). 70% of the industrial projects recently settled in Huiyang District of Huizhou come from Shenzhen. Retrieved from http://e.hznews.com/paper/djsb/20160909/A03/2/

Li, G., Luan, X., Yang, J., & Lin, X. (2013). Value capture beyond municipalities: Transit-oriented development and intercity passenger rail investment in China’s Pearl River Delta. Journal of Transport Geography, 33, 268–277. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2013.08.015

Li, S., Liu, X., Li, Z., Wu, Z., Yan, Z., Chen Y., & Gao, F. (2018). Spatial and temporal dynamics of urban expansion along the Guangzhou–Foshan intercity rail transit corridor, China. Sustainability, 10(3), 593–621. doi: 10.3390/su10030593

Lin, X., Yang, J., & Wang, F. (2017). Facilitating intercity rail transit metropolis by extending city metro systems. Urban Rapid Rail Transit, 30(4), 1–7. doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1672-6073.2017.04.001

Lin, X., Yang, J., & Sun, D. (2015). Metropolitan inter-jurisdictional public transportation and spatial coordinated development: Theory, cases, and reflections. Economic Geography, 35(9), 40–48. (In Chinese) doi: 10.15957/j.cnki.jjdl.2015.09.006

Mu, R., de Jong, M., Ma, Y., & Xi, B. (2015). Trading off public values in high-speed rail development in China. Journal of Transport Geography, 43, 66–77. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2015.01.010

Sina News. (2018-April). The announcement on the station location of Shenzhen Metro line 14 (Pingshan section). Retrieved from http://shenzhen.sina.com.cn/news/s/2018-04-18/detail-ifzihnep2438011.shtml?from=shenzhen_cnxh

Sperry, B., Ball, K., & Morgan, C. (2011). Cluster analysis of intercity rail passengers in emerging high-speed rail corridor. Transportation Research Record, 2261, 31–38. doi: 10.3141/2261-04

State Council of China. (2003). Regulation on construction and management of city rail transit in China (2003). Beijing: State Council of China.

State Council of China. (2005-March). The State Council’s approval on the intercity rail transport network plan in the Capital Economic Zone, Yangtze River Delta, and Pearl River Delta. Retrieved from: http://www.gov.cn/ztzl/2006-07/01/content_324546.htm

State Council of China. (2018). Updated regulation on planning, construction, and management of city rail transit in China. Beijing: State Council of China.

Tencent News. (2016-March). More than 60% of the respondents consider buying a housing outside Shenzhen. Retrieved from http://sz.house.qq.com/a/20160303/001991.htm

Wang, J., Rong, C., Xu, J., & Sui, W. O. (2012). The funding of hierarchical railway development in China. Research in Transportation Economics, 35(1), 26–33. doi: 10.1016/j.retrec.2011.11.004

Wang, R. (2011). Autos, transit and bicycles: Comparing the costs in large Chinese cities. Transport Policy, 18(1), 139–146. doi: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2010.07.003

Xu, J., & Yeh, A. G. O. (2013). Interjurisdictional cooperation through bargaining: The case of the Guangzhou–Zhuhai railway in the Pearl River Delta, China. China Quarterly, 213, 130–151. doi: 10.1017/S0305741013000283

Xu, J. (2017). Contentious space and scale politics: Planning for intercity railway in China’s mega-city regions. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 58(1), 57–73. doi: 10.1111/apv.12142

Yang, J., Lin, X., & Xie, Y. (2015). Intercity transportation planning in China: Case of the Guangzhou–Foshan metropolitan area. Transportation Research Record, 2512, 73–80. doi: 10.3141/2512-09

Yang, J., Chen, J., Le, X., & Zhang, Q. (2016). Density-oriented versus development-oriented transit investment: Decoding metro station location selection in Shenzhen. Transport Policy, 51, 93–102. doi: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2016.04.004

Zhou, J. (2016). The transit metropolis of Chinese characteristics? Literature review, interviews, surveys and case studies. Transport Policy, 51, 115–125. doi: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2015.11.009

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2018.1297

Copyright (c) 2018 Xiongbin Lin, Jiawen Yang, Ian MacLachlan