China – RailwaysRail transport is an important mode of long-distance transportation in the People's Republic of China. As of 2015, the country has 121,000 km (75,186 mi) of railways, the second longest network in the world, including 19,000 kilometres (11,806 miles) of high-speed rail (HSR), the longest HSR network in the world.
China railway history can be divided into three stages: The first stage, from 1865 to 1949, is featured as the awakening time; only a few railroads were constructed and in use. The second stage, from 1949 to 2014, is a massive construction stage when the old lines were restored and improved, and lots of new lines were built. It was during this stage that the country's railroad network took its shape gradually and was expanded to cover most cities in the country. Since 2004, the country has entered high speed era. High speed lines take place of old busy ordinary speed lines, which greatly increases transport capacity and makes train travel much easier than before.
Almost all rail operations are handled by the China Railway Corporation, a state-owned company created in March 2013 from dissolution of the Ministry of Railways.
China's railways are among the busiest in the world. In 2014, railways in China delivered 2.357 billion passenger trips, generating 1,160.48 billion passenger-kilometers and carried 3.813 billion tons of freight, generating 2,753 billion cargo ton-kilometers. Freight traffic turnover has increased more than fivefold over the period 1980-2013 and passenger traffic turnover has increased more than sevenfold over the same period. Driven by need to increase freight capacity, the railway network has expanded with the country budgeting $130.4 billion for railway investment in 2014, and has a long term plan to expand the network to 274,000 km (170,000 mi) by 2050. China built 9,000 km of new railway in 2015.
Railways in China are defined into three main legal categories: national railways, local railways and designated railways. National railways are managed by the State Council of the national government and account for the bulk of railways in China. Local railways, which are operated by provincial or municipal governments, totaled a mere 40,000 km in 2013, less than 4% of the national total. Designated railways are operated by enterprises such as mines and steel mills. Since the 1980s, the national and local governments have jointly funded railway construction, sometimes using private capital. Joint stock railways constituted about 32% of the national network in 2013. The Luoding Railway in Guangdong province, built as a joint-stock railway with investments from the local and national governments in 2001, was gradually privatized and is one of the few privately owned passenger railways.
As of 2014, the length of railways in China totaled 112,000 km (69,594 mi), including 16,000 kilometres (9,942 miles) of high-speed rail (HSR). China had the second longest railway network in the world and the longest high-speed rail network.
In 2011, the network length was about 91,000 kilometres (56,545 miles), including 41.1% double tracked (37,000 km) and 46.6% electrified (42,000 km). As of 2014 50.8% of the railroad was double-tracked (57,000 kilometres (35,418 miles)) and 58.3% was electrified (65,000 kilometres (40,389 miles)). The railway network's density was 116.48 km per 10,000 km2.
Railway stations in China are classified into six classes: special, first, second, third, fourth and fifth. A special class station can handle at least 60,000 passengers and 20,000 pieces of baggage, load at least 750 freight carriages or assign at least 6,500 carriages per day. A first class station can handle at least 15,000 passengers and 1,500 pieces of baggage, load 350 carriages or assign 3,000 carriages per day. A second class station can handle at least 5,000 passengers and 500 pieces of baggage, load 200 carriages or assign 1,500 carriages per day. In 2008, there were 5,470 train stations, including 50 special class stations, 236 first-class stations, 362 second-class stations and 936 third-class stations.