The Distribution Pattern of the Railway Network in China at the County Level

Minmin Li    
Renzhong Guo    
You Li    
Biao He and Yong Fan    


Evaluation of the railway network distribution and its impacts on social and economic development has great significance for building an efficient and comprehensive railway system. To address the lack of evaluation indicators to assess the railway network distribution pattern at the macro scale, this study selects eight indicators?railway network density, railway network proximity, the shortest travel time, train frequency, population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the gross industrial value above designated size, and fixed asset investment?as the basis of an integrated railway network distribution index which is used to characterize China?s railway network distribution using geographical information system (GIS) technology. The research shows that, in 2015, the railway network distribution was low in almost half of China?s counties and that there were obvious differences in distribution between counties in the east and west. In addition, multiple dense areas of railway network distribution were identified. The results suggest that it might be advisable to strengthen the connections between large and small cities in the eastern region and that the major urban agglomerations in the midwest could focus on strengthening the construction of railway facilities to increase the urban vitality of the western region. This study can be used to guide the optimization of railway network structures and provide a macro decision-making reference for the planning and evaluation of major railway projects in China.

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