Air and rail connectivity patterns of major city clusters in China

Kun Wang, Changmin Jiang, Adolf K.Y. Ng, Zhenran Zhu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This study proposes a series of statistical and regression approaches to investigate city-cluster transport connectivity patterns. Three major city clusters in China are selected for this study, namely, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH), the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), and the Pearl River Delta (PRD) economic zones. Our analyses examine three aspects of city-cluster connectivity patterns: (i) connectivity distribution among cities within the city cluster; (ii) dependence of the non-center city on the center city; and (iii) the impact of improved intra-city-cluster rail connectivity on air-connectivity distribution. First, it is found that the BTH has the most concentrated connectivity among the three city clusters, with Beijing clearly dominating the other cities in every kind of connectivity. The connectivity distributions are more balanced in the YRD and PRD. Second, the calculated “survival connectivity” and regression analyses suggest that non-center cities heavily rely on the center city as the hub to develop their network connectivity. Such a “hub-and-spoke system” helps a non-center city improve total connectivity but reduces its direct connectivity to other cities outside the city cluster. Finally, our regression analysis shows that improved intra-city-cluster rail connectivity further deteriorates the air-connectivity disparity within the city cluster, which occurs because the center city benefits more from the upgraded air-HSR (high speed rail) intermodal connectivity because it can attract air passengers from neighboring non-center cities. Relevant policy implications and suggestions are also discussed in the paper. We believe the proposed statistical and regression approaches can be easily applied to examine city-cluster connectivity in other contexts and countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-53
Number of pages19
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI)
  • China
  • City cluster
  • Transportation connectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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