UPD Talk: High-Speed Rail and Wider Spatial-Economic Impacts in China: A Multi-level Analysis



  • Date: MAY 15, 2019
  • Time: 12:00pm - 12:45pm
  • Venue: EB 415
  • Speaker: Chia-Lin Chen, University of Liverpool


High-speed rail (HSR) phenomenon has occurred across Chinese cities and regions in an unprecedented speed. Beyond direct transport impacts such as time saving, reliability, this talk focuses on the wider spatial-economic impacts that are not automatic and need strategic planning interventions and time to transpire. The key question to be answered here is to what extent and how the arrival of HSR has shaped territorial development and what lessons could be drawn. This talk argues that HSR opportunities in Chinese cities and regions are very much determined by the type of HSR systems, city’s ranking (in administrative systems and rail systems), politics of territorial governance in the aspects, namely HSR routes, HSR station location and space, HSR service level (frequency and ticket quota). Thus, instead of restructuring inter-urban systems, the arrival of HSR reinforces existing patterns of development and hierarchical order. In return, developmental challenges derived from these aspects are further combatted by local municipalities and influenced by the widespread Chinese model of rapid urbanization, including competitions among developmental zones, state rescaling through spatial strategies e.g. MCR strategies. A case study of Suzhou is selected to be examined with a multi-level perspective engaged with wider contexts provides a holistic view towards the complexity of wider impacts of HSR.


Chia-Lin Chen
University of Liverpool

Chia-Lin is lecturer in Urban Planning in the department of Geography and Planning of Liverpool University. She received her PhD degree in Urban and Regional Planning Studies at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (UCL) in 2013 and a consequent academic career in the UK and China. Her research interests lie in exploring the relationship between transport and territorial development on multiple spatial scales and associated planning issues.