The Unstoppable Growth of China's High-Speed Rail Network

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Rover

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How China out-built the world on high-speed rail.

Compares China's amount of HS Rail to other nations. Points out the cost savings in construction to that of the US.

 

me_little_me

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It's easy when you can "re-educate" the NIMBYs after seizing their property like what the U.S. did to native populations when giving their land to railroads in the 19th century back when people's rights, environmental issues, and other such things had no meaning. And, when one runs a dictatorship, the only ones who are allowed to have power are subject to the decisions of the ruling bureau and if that group decides to build roads, airports or trains (easier to control people's movement with trains or planes), it is done or those with lesser power find they have joined those with none.
 

neroden

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That's an excuse and it's not true.

I don't know if you've followed the history of Chinese eminent domain, but it turns out their society is extremely legalistic (always has been really). They have to buy out "holdouts" the same way we do in the US. Single houses will delay construction of projects for years. (The HSR just put viaducts OVER them in some cases.)

The big thing is that they have one political party which is all in on building HSR; they don't have a bunch of cadres and apparatchiks saying "rail is stupid, we should build more highways instead". That's the difference. (In authoritarian dictatorships where they DO have that -- and there are some! -- they are not building HSR either.)

On other issues, like getting rid of coal and establishing solar & wind power everywhere, there IS dissent among the ranks of the CCP officials, and as a result that has been going a lot slower and with backsliding. The big thing is that in China, *nobody is actually AGAINST passenger rail*, unlike here.

France, Spain, Morocco, Taiwan, Japan have all built HSR. Democracies, monarchies, dictatorships, the big difference is that they didn't have organized, powerful *rail-hating* groups. We do. So do several South American authoritarian countries which have failed to build HSR.
 

flitcraft

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And the Chinese rail system has been a game changer there for ordinary folks. I travel to China frequently and speak enough Chinese to converse with strangers, and I am always taken with how much HSR has become a part of how average Chinese people visit scenic parts of China, keep in touch with relatives, etc.

I should comment that it is true that China does has eminent domain rules, and is required to pay compensation to those whose property gets ultimately taken, but the compensation is not generous, and hardly compensates for people who lose their entire village and community. Getting a new apartment somewhere else, away from family and friends, isn't really much compensation. (Although the US did pretty much the same thing in the 1950's to folks when we built the federal highway system straight through neighborhoods that were forever destroyed.) I will also say that the legal system was more protective of Chinese citizens rights twenty years ago than today. I recall seeing a program on CCTV Chinese state television back in about 2005 about a band of lawyers defending villagers' rights when the government wanted to tear down their village to put up some kind of public works project. Even at the time, I found it amazing that the tenor of the program was favorable to the villagers and the lawyers working to defend their community. This absolutely wouldn't happen today, unfortunately. Xi has stifled any hint of dissent, tragically.
 

Ziv

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When I was in Beijing I loved to wander the backstreets (houtongs) and just observe. One thing I noted early on was a red circular stenciled "graffiti" with a couple characters that had been sprayed on several surfaces of some of the houtongs. I asked about it and it was the Party notice that that houtong had been condemned and would be razed within 90 days. There is a process similar to eminent domain but since few people actually owned the land they had a freehold type of contract on (usually limited to 70 years), they usually lose when the Party wanted their land. Very few people actually own land inside a city, the State owns it and leases it back to them for a stipulated time. When the Party bought the land they only paid for the pro-rated amount of the value, so if the family had been there for 50 years they got 20/70th of the purported value. But the process was pretty complicated because Chinese Land Law is really involved.
Upside is that 'backwards' sections of a city could be torn down after several years of planning and a couple months of notice of eviction to the people that live there. The people that were being evicted had usually known for a year or more that the eviction process was probably coming, but some claimed it was a surprise. Take that for what it is worth. The fact that some of the people would talk to me about something that sensitive was interesting in and of itself.
Downside of course is that the people that have lived there for a couple generations have to move on with short notice.
Conversely when I showed a pamphlet given away (at Tiananmen Square) by a distraught father that lost his son in PLA basic training the staff at the hotel ran away and wouldn't come out of hiding until I had been gone for some time. So there are things in China that they can complain about and things that they are not supposed to even see, let alone speak of. The father was grabbed by a squad of police that popped out of a hidden door and pulled him in with them in less than a minute. I got one of the pamphlets that were blown downwind when they nabbed the old gent.
Simplifying eminent domain here would simplify improving rail lines, but I am not sure that we would like the collateral damage.
China has some large advantages when it comes to building train lines.

It's easy when you can "re-educate" the NIMBYs after seizing their property like what the U.S. did to native populations when giving their land to railroads in the 19th century back when people's rights, environmental issues, and other such things had no meaning. And, when one runs a dictatorship, the only ones who are allowed to have power are subject to the decisions of the ruling bureau and if that group decides to build roads, airports or trains (easier to control people's movement with trains or planes), it is done or those with lesser power find they have joined those with none.
 
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west point

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Notice the 3 and 2 seating on the China trains. Might be a very tight fit for many westerners ?
 

jis

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Notice the 3 and 2 seating on the China trains. Might be a very tight fit for many westerners ?
3x2 seating is very common in Asia in the standard/lower class. Most Asians are not as huge as Americans, who are large partly by nature and partly by excessive consumption and poor diet ;)
 

me_little_me

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3x2 seating is very common in Asia in the standard/lower class. Most Asians are not as huge as Americans, who are large partly by nature and partly by excessive consumption and poor diet ;)
No insults please. We are just too short for our weight and insulting us because of our height being insufficient can get you an ADA complaint. :)

And, yes, this is related to the topic because it references "growth". :)
 
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MARC Rider

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3x2 seating is very common in Asia in the standard/lower class. Most Asians are not as huge as Americans, who are large partly by nature and partly by excessive consumption and poor diet ;)
It used to be that most Asians were smaller than Americans because of the poor diet on the part of the Asians. Now the relative sizes are the same, but the Americans are the ones with the poor diet! :)

By the way, this wasn't always just about Asians and Americans. In 1918, when American soldiers started arriving at the Western Front, the British, French, and Germans were all amazed at how huge those Yankee farm boys were. I guess that hard work, country living, and abundant food relative to Europe made a difference.
 
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