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The First Three Gorges High-speed Railway to Boost Regional Economy丨Expert

By VIVIAN YANICHONGQING|Jun 01,2022

Chongqing- Transportation is a guarantee for promoting high-quality development and life, serving as the experience and national consensus for China’s development.

The to-be-opened Zhengzhou-Chongqing High-speed Railway runs through Henan, Hubei, and Chongqing in the central and western regions, with a total of 28 stations along the way.

“From Wanzhou North Railway Station, you can have Wuhan hot-dry noodles, Henan stewed noodles, and Peking duck within a few hours,” said Professor Han Jian. “The Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway can transform the advantages of the road network into a strong engine for cultural tourism and trade development in cities along the line such as Zhengzhou and Wanzhou, promoting local economic development.”

The new Fuxing high-speed train runs on the Zhengzhou-Chongqing High-speed Railway.

The new Fuxing high-speed train was on a trail run on the Zhengzhou-Chongqing High-speed Railway. (iChongqing file photo)

Professor Han is a postdoctoral fellow in economics at Peking University and director of the Department of Finance and Taxation at Chongqing Technology and Business University. He boasts an academic backbone of the discipline, with expertise authorized by his doctoral degree in regional economics. iChongqing sat down for an exclusive interview with him about the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway and the countdown to opening the whole line.

Professor Han is a postdoctoral fellow in economics at Peking University and director of the Department of Finance and Taxation at Chongqing Technology and Business University. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Railway to penetrate the Three Gorges area

The Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway has a length of about 818 kilometers and a designed speed of 350 km/h. The Chongqing section is about 184 kilometers long, with four stations in Wanzhou North, Yunyang, Fengjie, and Wushan.

After the whole line of the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway is opened, the journey from the central city of Chongqing to Zhengzhou will be shortened to roughly half of the current 8 hours, and the trip to Beijing will be shortened by half also.

Reduction in Train Time from Chongqing to Other Cities. (iChongqing/ Vivian Yan)

Reduction in train time from Chongqing to other cities once the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway is completed. (iChongqing/ Vivian Yan)

Once upon a time, inconvenient transportation was an essential bottleneck restricting the development of the Three Gorges Reservoir area. Most districts and counties had no high-speed railway, and some even had no railway, but the construction of the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway changed their destinies. 

In particular, Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway will promote the coverage of high-speed railways in Fuling and Fengdu, and Zhongxian County will even enter the era of high-speed railways from the county of the blank railway. The journey from Chongqing East to Fuling North, Fengdu North, and Zhongxian Stations is about 15 minutes, 25 minutes, and 36 minutes respectively.

Professor Han believes that the opening of the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway will improve accessibility both physically and economically.

It will effectively drive the development of the tourism industry, agricultural product supply chain, and other industries in districts and counties and bring more possibilities for investment in Chongqing.

“For example, by simulating passengers’ selecting behavior of regional railway products,” said Professor Han. “We can obtain the passenger demand structure of comprehensive transportation channels under different transportation distances, analyze the advantages of railway products in each region and provide railway products in a targeted manner.” 

There are abundant tourist resources along the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway, including Qinglong Waterfall in Wanzhou, Shibaozhai in Zhongxian County, and Baiheliang Underwater Museum in Fuling that are famous at home and abroad.

“The tourism resources along the high-speed railway are like a plate of pearls,” said local scholars in an interview with Xinhua. “Although each one is dazzling, it is scattered and fragmented to some extent, while the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway strings the pearls together to form a ‘pearl chain.'”

The Chongqing section of the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway. (Photo/ Visual Chongqing)

Boosting the Chengdu-Chongqing economy

“I think Henan’s labor force, agriculture, animal husbandry, and mineral resources can help the construction of Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle and promote the high-quality development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt,” said Professor Han.

“Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway will provide talent support for Wanzhou’s economic development and expand the local labor economy,” said Liu Yongzhong, chief of the operation section of the Economic Development Bureau of Wanzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone.

He explained that the current annual shortage of high-end talents in Wanzhou is about 200 people, which seriously restricts the development of local enterprises. The opening of the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou high-speed railway can speed up the integration of resources along the line. 

“For example, Henan has a sufficient labor force and a relatively low degree of aging, so its labor cost advantage is obvious in a strong development,” said Professor Han. “The opening of the road will enhance the mobility of the labor force and provide a great convenience for people from the Central Plains, North China, and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River to start a business and find employment in Wanzhou.”

In addition, Henan leads the country in farming and livestock breeding, and convenient transportation will save time and cost for the transportation of agricultural products and processed products.

In 2021, among all modern agricultural projects under construction in Henan Province, there were four under the Muyuan Foods Co., Ltd. in Nanyang, Henan Province, which will further build a hog industry chain integrating scientific research, feed processing, and hog breeding and propagation. The company ranks first in Asia in terms of its scale of hog rearing.

Han continued, “Henan also has a complex geological structure, favorable metallogenic conditions, and rich mineral resources.”

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, a new development pattern of green mining in Henan was established. The proportion of small, medium and large green mines in production mines reaches 20% and 60%, respectively, which can help build a vital fluorine chemical, calcium powder, and alkali chemical base in China.

An overview of Chongqing at a skyrise scenic platform on the WFC. (iChongqing/ Vivian Yan)

(Wang Lu, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)

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