Guangzhou as the center of the GBA

Guangzhou’s plans for the high-speed railway network it will administer throughout the Greater Bay Area are starting to make better sense. Announced a few days ago, it has taken some time for local media outlets to get their heads around what it all means. But this much is becoming clear: like Rome and ox-carts 2,000 years ago, all tracks are going to lead to Guangzhou, and the provincial capital is going to become first among equals in the region. But unlike Rome, this is going to take a decade, not a century, to happen.

The plan has four basic components, all of which will be completed by 2030, five years ahead of the completion of the Greater Bay Area masterplan. 

First, the city’s railway network will spread its tentacles east and west. On its east side, it will extend the current Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway further north, so that it runs through the city center and onwards up to the airport (currently the line stops at Guangzhou South). Moreover, as reported yesterday, Guangzhou will build another, faster line, with trains running at 600km/h, along this side of the Bay. 

One the city’s western side, meanwhile, Guangzhou will build another high-speed railway line starting from the heart of the CBD, in the Tianhe District, running through Zhongshan and Zhuhai, down to Hengqin, which connects to Macau’s Cotai district. This is in addition to the existing 160km/h Intercity Railway that terminates at Zhuhai’s Gongbei border crossing with the older part of Macau, which is about to be extended out to Hengqin. 

Upon completion of these lines, with trains running at 360 km/h, Guangzhou’s city center will be within one hour’s journey from Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen. 

Second, Guangzhou will use high-speed railways to connect up its four biggest stations, which in turn connect to the rest of the country. Currently, the Guangzhou Train Station and Guangzhou East Station are situated in the city center, with Guangzhou North and Guangzhou South on the edge of the city limits, connected only by slow-moving, multiple-stop Metro trains. These stations are important hubs for high-speed trains running in every direction: to Beijing in the north; to Zhanjiang, Nanning and Guizhou in the west; to Heyuan and Shantou in the east; and to Shenzhen and Hong Kong in the south.   

Third, the government will make Nansha a railway hub in its own right, by running multiple railways through the southernmost district, which is a special economic zone. It will immediately increase the frequency of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway stops at Nansha’s Qingsheng station, and it will eventually allow passengers to reach Nansha from the Guangzhou city center, Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen in just 30 minutes. 

That is just the super-fast trains. Five more 160km/h Intercity Railway lines are also planned. Three will run north-south: Qinyuan to Nansha, extending to Zhongshan; Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport via Guangzhou South to Nansha, with an extension to Foshan’s city center; and from the Science City to Foshan’s Shunde via Panyu. Two will run east-west: from Huangpu to Foshan’s city center; and from the Sino-Singapore Knowledge City to Guangzhou East.

Phew. If you would like to read more in Chinese, here you go.

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