The world’s first public high-speed train line rocketed into existence between Tokyo and Osaka in the 1960s, seating Japan firmly on the world’s high-speed rail throne. But in the 21st century, China has effectively seized the crown.
Chinese high-speed railway construction and investment have shot ahead without looking back since the turn of the millenium, and consequently the sheer scale of China’s high-speed train network is staggering, especially when compared to the rest of the world.
A recent graphic from The Financial Times shows the current rankings of countries by actual and planned kilometres of fast rail. Shifts in position between France, Spain, and Japan are interesting for those who care, but seem to pale in significance when compared with massive Chinese figures hovering overhead.
Another graphic from the People’s Daily below illustrates the 60 percent share of the world’s high-speed rail tracks which China held in 2014, measured against the next six ranking countries.As China’s fast rail network expands further, so do world goverments' lust for fast-rail networks. According to Quartz, Chinese companies are now set to build to build fast-rail tracks in all four corners of the world, as part of a broader plan to build a global fast rail network. In countries like Indonesia, China has been in serious competition with Japan for fast-rail construction contracts. Japan’s strength is its reputation for safety, while China relies on the fact that it is already building massive lengths of fast-rail within its own borders.
[Images via The Financial Times, People's Daily and Baidu]