Experts Gather for Forum on Future of Intercity Railway Development in PRC

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BEIJING, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (22 May 2017) — An Intercity Railway Development Forum opening today brings together railway experts, policymakers and planners, and practitioners to discuss the policy direction for intercity railways in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Ministry of Transport, the two-day forum includes sessions on railway planning, institutional and regulatory issues, funding of investment and private sector participation, and the design of multimodal transport hubs. It will feature presentations from the PRC’s leading railway agencies as well as international railway experts.

“The forum comes at the culmination of an ADB project to assist the Ministry of Transport in the formulation of policies for planning, financing, and implementation of the intercity train network — with a particular emphasis on the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei railway network,” said Robert Guild, transport division Director of ADB’s East Asia Department.

Recommendations from the project will be discussed at the forum, including the proposal that individual routes be operated as private concessions, possibly under a public-private partnership framework. Analysis conducted under this project indicates that routes under the proposed Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei network should be sufficiently profitable to pay back all their infrastructure capital costs over a 20 to 30-year period. Other routes should be able to operate profitably as most of the initial investment cost is contributed by central or local government.

The forum will also discuss the future design of multimodal hubs, which need to carefully balance each mode of transport, the flows within the hub, and urban environment needs.

Successful hubs provide not only a good level of service to commuters, but also create a vibrant urban center, incorporating important civic spaces and high-value commercial development. Unsuccessful hubs, on the other hand, can become bottlenecks in urban transport networks and create large zones of urban blight. Rigorous planning and design practices are critical to ensure hubs are successful not just on opening day, but in the long term.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

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