Why China Is so Good at Building Railways

  • Published: 13 November 2018
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    [1] economist.com/china/2017/01/13/china-has-built-the-worlds-largest-bullet-train-network
    [2] datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/906519-world-bank-country-and-lending-groups
    [3] documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/451551468241176543/pdf/932270BRI0Box30ffic020140final000EN.pdf
    [4] oag.com/on-time-performance-star-ratings-2018
    [5] export.gov/article?id=China-Aviation
    [6] translate.google.com.au/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fpolitics.people.com.cn%2FGB%2F14562%2F10317457.html&edit-text=&act=url
    [7] ft.com/content/ca28f58a-955d-11e8-b747-fb1e803ee64e
    [8] hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/business_plans/Draft_2018_Business_Plan.pdf
    [9] openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/25483/892000BRI0Box3000china0transport09.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
    [10] researchgate.net/profile/Ralf_Wilhelms/publication/280924889_Social_Benefits_As_Part_In_The_Economic_Evaluation_Of_High_Speed_Rail/links/55cb933508aebc967dfe1a03/Social-Benefits-As-Part-In-The-Economic-Evaluation-Of-High-Speed-Rail.pdf
    [11] xinhuanet.com/english/2018-05/05/c_137158303.htm
    [12] economist.com/china/2017/01/13/china-has-built-the-worlds-largest-bullet-train-network

    Animation by Josh Sherrington
    Sound by Graham Haerther (Haerther.net)
    Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster

    Special thanks to Patreon supporters
    Alec Watson, Andrew J Thom, Braam Snyman, Bryan Yip, Chris Allen, Chris Barker, Connor J Smith, Daddy Donald, Etienne Dechamps, Eyal Matsliah, Hank Green, Harry Hendel, James Hughes, James McIntosh, John & Becki, Johnston, Keith Bopp, Kelly J Knight, Ken Lee, KyQuan, Phong, manoj kasyap govindaraju, Plinio Correa, Qui Le, Robin Pulkkinen, Sheldon Zhao, Simen Nerleir, Tim Robinson

    China airspace time-lapse courtesy FlightRadar24.com
    Air China 747 landing shot courtesy ZurichAirportSpotter
    China Eastern 737 takeoff shot courtesy PDX Aviation
    Tibet railway shots courtesy Steven Chen and PK Long

    Music by epidemicsound.com

    Select footage courtesy the AP Archive

Comments • 21 483

  • Scott Yang
    Scott Yang  6 minutes back

    The Lanzhou-Urumqi route didn't make sense to me as well until I took the train a few months ago. During the trip, you can see how many stops (towns, small cities, etc.) along the route were rather remote with quite challenging terrains, and transportation between these spots and major cities, i.e. hubs for resources, business/job opportunities, etc., would be really nightmarish - even with airplanes, it will be insane as some of the spots are too close to each other for a reasonable airline, and trains cover all spots on the route whereas planes cover only two points.

    The lack of swift and modernized means of transport plays a lot into the sub-par development stage of remote areas, hence sub-par incomes of the people living there. Also separation caused from lack of transport would sometimes cause even bigger socioeconomic problems, like poor understanding of each other's customs, lack of communication, even hostilities among groups of people. Though I do not agree with many decisions by Chinese government, I do think building these high-speed railway routes into remote areas is a good thing for basically all parties involved, especially considering the external benefits to the communities and the whole country.

    • Thomas1980
      Thomas1980  2 hours back


      • 姜少博
        姜少博  3 hours back


        • YEET842
          YEET842  3 hours back

          Meanwhile England take a decade to patch a road

          • fred Ju
            fred Ju  3 hours back


            • Gavin Koo
              Gavin Koo  6 hours back


              • R Chung
                R Chung  7 hours back

                But Chinese railway company is in debt.

                • Y X
                  Y X  13 hours back


                  • Taiba qvsi
                    Taiba qvsi  10 hours back


                • 7 grass
                  7 grass  13 hours back


                  • 7 grass
                    7 grass  13 hours back


                • Sean Sullivan
                  Sean Sullivan  13 hours back

                  They're "so good" at building railways because they stole their technology from the Japanese and they have no regard for private property rights. The end.

                  • Takashi
                    Takashi  13 hours back

                    China gonna grow while the world gonna sleep.

                    • M9
                      M9  14 hours back

                      This video just showed its ignorance about China's railways. For example, China built route Lanzhou to Urumqi not just for profit but the railway was part of the lifting-poverty plan.

                      • TOMHBOMB1963
                        TOMHBOMB1963  15 hours back

                        Check-in at a big station can take time. Foreigners cannot book on the web. You can book the ticket but have to go to an office and pick it up. These trains are great I have been from bejing to Taijin and Shanghai to Hefei , plus been on the Maglev at 431 km/hr.,

                        • TOMHBOMB1963
                          TOMHBOMB1963  15 hours back

                          China should be proud of their efforts.

                          • jinglei xue
                            jinglei xue  16 hours back

                            taiwan is part of china,thank you

                            • x x
                              x x  19 hours back

                              What about provide citizens with cheap,low budget travel options with better quality transportation? Seems like you think 99% of the reason is political.

                              • zizo 246
                                zizo 246  19 hours back

                                The high speed train technology was stolen from Siemens and they never gave an answer to Siemens about this big unjustice! Germany knows it well.

                                • paul shi
                                  paul shi  12 hours back

                                  You're talking about the Siemens Velaro trains? Truth is China had placed orders for a lot of Siemens Velaro trains. Trains were produced and assembled in China, while components were supplied by Siemens according to technology transfer agreements, so it was a joint manufacture. And not just in China, the Siemens Velaro series also thrives in many other countries outside Germany like Spain and Russia.
                                  Same joint manufacture in other types of trains such as CRH1 (with Bombardier), CRH2 (with Kawasaki), CRH5 (with Alstom)

                              • lonelyPorterCH
                                lonelyPorterCH  20 hours back

                                Oh, I was in Paris, and in Barcelona^^

                                But to Paris I took the train and to barcelona the plane ;P (From switzerland)

                                • Enrique Lareo
                                  Enrique Lareo  21 hours back

                                  European Union High Speed train: 8,500km

                                  • 做個好人
                                    做個好人  23 hours back


                                    • 394pjo
                                      394pjo  1 days back

                                      Unlike the U.S the Chinese have realised trains are supposed to run _on_ the rails.

                                      • Peter S.
                                        Peter S.  1 days back

                                        yeah we who gives a shit when you don't have enough social points to use the fucking train

                                        • Kuala Rompin Bandar Blackout

                                          Yeah, sure, the cost for the US to build highspeed railway will be higher than China, but the US is the wealthiest country in the world. They can spend trillion of dollars in military, billion of dollars in tax cut, billion of dollars in aide to other countries. It is not really a question the US can't build it, they simply won't build it since their priorities lay elsewhere.

                                          • Carlos Liu
                                            Carlos Liu  1 days back

                                            Taiwan belongs to China!!!

                                            • creator Space
                                              creator Space  2 days back

                                              It's done well.

                                              • Olivia Quin
                                                Olivia Quin  2 days back

                                                Me, as an Australian

                                                Imagine a train that took you from DC to Dallas in 9 hours

                                                Doesn't seem that unreasonable

                                                Or Paris to Athens in 9 hours


                                                Or Adelaide to Perth in 9 hours

                                                OK WTF.

                                                • Ansh Agrawal
                                                  Ansh Agrawal  2 days back

                                                  In case of a war or mass unrest, these high speed train lines allow China to move troops quickly

                                                  • Vitting 01
                                                    Vitting 01  2 days back

                                                    This is so bull-shit not even reality, all the time in China trains are crashing because of the railways!
                                                    - I live in China :-)

                                                    • Vitting 01
                                                      Vitting 01  1 days back

                                                      @Sy Fan You haven't done your research probably :-)

                                                    • Sy Fan
                                                      Sy Fan  1 days back

                                                      Haha... show the evidence. Otherwise you are bullshitting.

                                                  • 小兵当家
                                                    小兵当家  2 days back

                                                    I bet some of you who first saw the title and must've thought: "maybe they used to build railways for the US? haha"

                                                    • Paul
                                                      Paul  2 days back

                                                      Not any more. China is broke !

                                                      • 李浩强
                                                        李浩强  2 days back

                                                        China has invested its tea egg money in railways

                                                        • 李浩强
                                                          李浩强  2 days back


                                                          • 邱泓博
                                                            邱泓博  2 days back


                                                        • Forlorn Vaalan
                                                          Forlorn Vaalan  3 days back

                                                          Itd be cooler if the passenger trains were all MagLev.

                                                          • P J
                                                            P J  2 days back

                                                            Way too expensive at this point. MagLev is actually an experimental train as a show case to the world about future technology.

                                                        • 可能是个烂屌丝。。。


                                                          • 可能是个烂屌丝。。。


                                                            • 邱泓博
                                                              邱泓博  2 days back

                                                              哪有那么夸张 下一代高铁都不可能这样 忽悠忽悠再忽悠

                                                          • the sojourner
                                                            the sojourner  3 days back

                                                            chicom national debt is higher than US in terms of % of gdp...and then add on local gov debt...

                                                            • TheTinminator
                                                              TheTinminator  3 days back

                                                              Well, the Chinese did built the railroad in America way back as slaves. It’s make sense because they got a long time experience in railway.

                                                              • Sy Fan
                                                                Sy Fan  1 days back

                                                                Cheap labor, not slaves.

                                                              • `1nfamous Soldier
                                                                `1nfamous Soldier  2 days back

                                                                Not really slaves just foreign workers who worked for less

                                                            • Nuke Em
                                                              Nuke Em  3 days back

                                                              China poor? 😂😂

                                                              • Fu YC
                                                                Fu YC  4 days back

                                                                In summary, China may be looking good in certain tiny and unique area. But overall China must be evil, because its communism China. I’ve never been there, but communism must be bad, regardless of ‘don’t know why’.

                                                                • Sy Fan
                                                                  Sy Fan  1 days back

                                                                  haha.... That is called media brainwashing. You are poisoned by western media.

                                                              • Ju hyo Kang
                                                                Ju hyo Kang  4 days back

                                                                The world best of best ok

                                                                • roger lo
                                                                  roger lo  4 days back

                                                                  A little correction here, if you are taking the train in China. There is also a long wait to pass through the security. Even if you are taking the metro, you still need to wait in line and being checked.

                                                                  • Arch Stanton
                                                                    Arch Stanton  4 days back

                                                                    China is good a building fast rail because they PAY other countries to design them Maglev in shanghai .. manufactured by germany .. nuk sub parts from france web expertise supplied by colleges in the US, Aircraft carrier ( had to use a tug boat to pull it) bought from russia, stealth fighters.. plans hacked from the U S military internet. Ive been there 6 times.. do not ride escalators or elevators.. they are made in china and they can kill you

                                                                    • William Pentney-Schmidt

                                                                      Really good Video

                                                                      • Mark Yang
                                                                        Mark Yang  4 days back

                                                                        I took the Tibet-Beijing railway back in 2013. It was filled with passengers. This really brought huge convenience to everyone traveling between mainland and Tibet. Maybe it is non-profitable but it certainly helped people in both regions in a lot of ways.

                                                                        • djinn Man
                                                                          djinn Man  4 days back

                                                                          The other "Made in China"

                                                                          Meanwhile "Made in the USA" suffered massive reality check with Boeing Max and FAA attempted cover up.

                                                                          China's rise to power is as much on cheap labour and ingenuity as it is on infrastructure and a government system that can issue LONG TERM concise goals and directives for the greater good over personal interests groups.

                                                                          There are many other countries who can match or beat China for labour cost.

                                                                          BUT value chain integration aside, how you get your goods to market efficiently and quickly is another thing.

                                                                          In the time the US argues to build a railroad, the Chinese have already built extensive net works.

                                                                          In the time the US lobbyist in the auto industry wrangle with oil interest groups, the Chinese would have stolen a march ahead with an entire industry of All electric cars across the country.

                                                                          I think those foolish Hong Kong protesters should pay more attention to the benefits of the dictatorial government system in China over the benefits of the Western democracy (never extended to them by Britain it must be said)logged down by constant bickering and mired by self serving narrow interests.

                                                                          • P J
                                                                            P J  12 hours back

                                                                            @邱泓博 I am American who want to see China to become a true democracy like ours eventually through Peaceful Reform, not Bloody Revolution.

                                                                          • 邱泓博
                                                                            邱泓博  13 hours back

                                                                            @P J You are not white?

                                                                          • P J
                                                                            P J  2 days back

                                                                            @邱泓博 Make China Great Again!

                                                                          • 邱泓博
                                                                            邱泓博  2 days back

                                                                            @P J Democracy is a dream for China, according to development science, I guess individualism will become dominant ideology because we do not need to team work. Thus I guess China become democracy country just a time problem. Now, China is still poor country lol

                                                                          • P J
                                                                            P J  2 days back

                                                                            China has learned a lot from Singapore now and in the past, and it should continue to open up its political window over time. I am not so sure about the idea that a dictatorial government is a good thing. However, total western style democracy may not be realistic or beneficial, but it certainly is a good direction to go and it should be done in a cautious manner to avoid chaos in a big country like China.

                                                                        • 张周
                                                                          张周  4 days back


                                                                          • Tingting Wang
                                                                            Tingting Wang  4 days back

                                                                            Re-education camps in Xinjiang province are aimed at helping some Uighur people who are brainwashed by religious extremism to get rid off those crazy thoughts and learn some working skills. People who have already finished their camps are making good money because they can find good job. Western countries should stop making lies to the world about the re-education camps!

                                                                            • Elite BViper
                                                                              Elite BViper  4 days back

                                                                              **Video is approved by China**