Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Transportation in China
China has the biggest population in the world and has been experiencing rapid development in recent past decades. China is a strong contender in the world of economy, securing second place on the list of the largest world economies. However, it is a country that still needs educated and skilled professionals who are willing to share their knowledge. Many Westerners decide to move to China and seek better employment opportunities. Trust us; there are plenty of work openings in this country regardless of your skill level.
Transportation followed the growth in the economy and the general advancement of China. A large number of airports were built in the last decade, roads are constantly being repaired and improved, and the railways became the most comfortable means of transport in this country. As a matter of fact, it is the most popular means of transport for the vast majority of China’s population, and it is perfect for long distance travel between the major cities.
Before you make an important life decision and start packing your bags in order to move to China, there are a couple of things you need to know about transport in this country. As we have previously mentioned, China is a large country and the chances are you will be traveling from one side to another very soon after your arrival. This basic information will make your life a whole lot easier and you will be able to understand transport in China way better. So let’s take a closer look at the best available options.
At the moment, there are 182 commercial airports in China that are used every single day for both domestic and international flights. China plans to expand this number even more, and they will add eighty-two more airports to this list in the next couple of years. This will greatly improve air transport within this country and allow more people to use this means of transportation at a lower price, for sure.
Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines are dominating the air transport market, and the majority of passengers choose to use their services because they are safe and offer comfortable travel. Of course, there are other smaller air transport companies who are trying to enter the market by offering lower ticket prices, but these three airlines are simply stronger, have a long tradition, and offer great services to their loyal customers.
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With so many airports, domestic travel within China is quick and easy. Of course, all the major cities have multiple airports and they are the large hubs for air travel, but the chances are that you will find an air route of your interest no matter where you need to go. Cities are well connected, air travel within China is not pricey, and the majority of people can afford it easily. We are sure that the popularity of air travel will increase in the years to come because it is quick, convenient, and very enjoyable.
Rail transport in China has been around since 1864. It is the most popular way to travel within this country, and it experiences a high volume of traffic on a daily basis in all regions. It is also a cheap and reliable way to transport goods, so all major cities and ports are well connected via railway to make that process quicker and safer. The rail network is quite impressive, and it is 91,000 km long at the moment.
It is clear that China is heavily investing in the railroad system, and it has made the high-speed travel available to absolutely everyone. There are nine high-speed lines that connect large cities, and you will be able to travel between them at the speed of up to 300 km/h, sometimes even faster. They will surely get you quickly to wherever you need to go. There are also 7,000 kilometers of the railroads that are reserved for 250km/h high-speed trains that run between other cities.
The Maglev train is also a nice edition to China’s railroads. This amazing train that is capable of reaching 431 km/h is the world’s fastest train used for passenger travel. It is the train that uses magnetic levitation and it is used on one line only. It connects Pudong International Airport with Pudong’s outskirts and if you land at this airport, the chances are you will be riding the Maglev straight to the city in a blink of an eye.
Another notable part of the Chinese railroads is the so-called New Silk Road that connects Lianyungang with Kazakhstan while going through more rural provinces of China. When you reach Kazakhstan, the line shifts to another railroad with Rotterdam as the final station. It is an astonishing route that will take you from the far side of Asia straight to the heart of Europe.
China began building cross country roads during the 1930s and nowadays it has an enormous network of high-quality roads that are perfect for car travel. There are two different networks of roads that go through different regions of China – one of them is China National Highways, and the other one is Expressways of China. Right now, there are over 3,984,000 km of track all across China, and using them for transport is fast, reliable, and you will be able to get to know China in a whole new way.
China National Highways sometimes require a toll, but they are mostly free to use. They are not highways per se, and the speed limit is 100 km/h. However, don’t be surprised if you see other vehicles speeding by because not everyone obeys the rules. There are not many cameras or radars placed on this network of roads, so some of the drivers see this as an opportunity to drive as fast as they can. However, following the rules and obeying the speed limit is simply a must to keep yourself and everyone else around you safe while driving.
Expressways in China are a bit different and they currently have the largest expressway system in the world. That title was once held by the United States Interstate Highway System. The network is 123,000 kilometers long and it connects various provinces of China. They are an excellent way to travel by your own car and you will be able to get quickly to your desired destination.
All expressways require a toll and the price varies. Some expressways are cheaper, while others are a bit more expensive. It all depends on your starting point, your planned route, and the destination. However, when compared to the toll prices all around the world, Expressways of China are very affordable.
Inter city transport
If you plan on moving to China and living there for some time, you need to learn the best way to get from point A to point B. Metropolitan areas in China are enormous, and the chances are you will not be living right next to your workplace. Therefore, you need to figure out your way around. Luckily, there are so many options within large cities, and you will find the way that will get you safely to your workplace and back in no time. So let’s take a look at the most popular means of transportation in the urban areas.
All major cities have metro systems. Metro is cheap, perfect for commuting, and stations are everywhere. There is a total of fifteen metro systems that are in full operation right now, and eighteen are currently being built. So if you end up working in Shenzhen or Beijing, you will be able to make use of these large underground rail systems.
Metros in China can get a bit crowded, especially in the mornings or evenings, but they are kept pristine.
Biking is a popular way to travel around urban areas. They are super healthy, do not pollute the air, and allow you to experience the city to its fullest. Having in mind that China is the largest manufacturer of electric bicycles in the world, it comes as no surprise that they are extremely popular in that country and pretty much everyone has one. They are compact and perfect for maneuvering through a city, especially during the rush hour. So if you are worried about getting stuck in the traffic, electric bicycles are your best choice. They require a quick battery charge and you will be able to cover around 40-50 kilometers at a moderate speed without any problems.
Bus transport within the urban areas is not as popular as using metro systems. Even though all the major cities are well covered with bus lines, they are simply not as fast as the metro, and they often get stuck in traffic, making you late for work. Therefore, not many people are using them. However, they may be a great addition to your general route if you need to get to a part of the city that is not connected to a metro line.
Commuter rail systems
As we have previously mentioned, large rail systems are often used for long distance travel. However, there are a couple of commuter rail systems available in China as well. Even though this type of transport is more popular in Europe and the United States, it is gaining popularity in China as well. Beijing Suburban Railway has started operating recently and it is slowly becoming the transport of choice by some of the people who live in the suburbs and don’t want to use the metro.
So there are a couple of things you need to remember if you plan on living and working in China. First of all, the best possible way to travel between cities is by using the railway. China is clearly investing a lot of money into perfecting their railway system. The trains are very clean and comfortable and they are not so different from planes when it comes to the interior. They are also very fast and rarely late. You will be able to reach your destination at the exact given time. Plus, you will be able to fully enjoy the scenery and get to know this beautiful country from your compartment. Also, we hope that we will see more maglev trains on the passenger railways very soon because they are simply awesome, and look and feel very futuristic.
So what about the transport within the urban areas? Our suggestions would be to either use the metro or go with the electric bike. As we have pointed out in the text above, metro is used by the majority of commuters. The stations are everywhere, and the chances are you will have one very near your place of residence. Metro in China is very clean and well-kept, unlike metro systems in other countries. Everything is in perfect order, and they are also rarely late. You don’t have to worry whether you will get to your workplace in time if you chose the metro.
If your workplace is not extremely far away, you can always use the electric bicycle. It is a fun way of transport that can get you quickly to wherever you need to go. Plus, you will feel more like a local and will be able to see the city above the ground. This might be the best way to get to know your new surroundings on your own and discover new places you can see and visit in your free time. China is a unique place and you will fall in love with both the people and the way of life there. It is not as crowded as it seems from the outside perspective and you simply have to experience it for yourself in order to see how living and working there actually feels.