The effects of high-speed rail development on regional equity in China

Fangni Zhang, Zhiwei Yang, Jingjuan Jiao, Wei Liu, Wenjie Wu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the impacts of high-speed rail (HSR) development on regional equity in China during 2007–2017. The equity in terms of economic output and HSR service is characterized at national, divisional (Eastern, Central, and Western), and provincial levels. The Gini indices associated with prefectures’ gross regional product (GRP) per capita, HSR connectivity and accessibility are measured to assess disparity from different aspects. Instead of measuring the effect of HSR entry by a dummy variable representing the presence of HSR service only, this paper estimates the effects of HSR by various terms regarding the HSR presence, network coverage, service quality, and equity of HSR development. In particular, the HSR network coverage is captured by the number of prefectures connected to HSR. Service quality is characterized by the HSR connectivity (frequency of HSR services) and accessibility (average travel time and economic potential). The frequency and accessibility related metrics are further decomposed into two sub-variables representing the intra- and inter-provincial metrics to differentiate the service availability and travel time between prefectures in a same or different province(s). The influence between neighboring or adjoining provinces on each other's economic equity is identified by spatial autocorrelation effect. Our main findings include: 1) National equity is gradually improved in terms of both GRP and HSR developments in China between 2007 and 2017; the provinces or divisions with larger GRP tend to be less equitable; 2) The inauguration of HSR has positive correlation with provincial equity; however, the positive effect diminishes with the spread of HSR coverage; 3) HSR accessibility (average travel time and economic potential) has more significant effect on provincial economic equity than frequency; 4) Effects of intra-provincial accessibility and connectivity (HSR service within the province) dominate inter-provincial metrics (services to other provinces); 5) The prosperous and balanced HSR development in neighboring provinces helps promote provincial economic equity of one another.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-202
Number of pages23
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Accessibility
  • Economic equity
  • Frequency
  • Gini index
  • High-speed rail
  • Neighboring effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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