07/04/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/03/2019 19:04
A more powerful leading group with the authority to coordinate transportation in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is crucial for its development, experts say.
With the two municipalities and the province planning to accelerate integration of their transport networks in 2019, a beefed-up administrative leading group and a flexible coordination mechanism are urgently required to ensure concrete results, said Yang Liya, a researcher at Renmin University of China's Beijing Academy of Development and Strategy.
She said the transportation system involves multiple parties, including those involved in land allocation, design, construction, operation and regulation, especially when three different regions are involved, and that makes coordination much more difficult.
'For instance, it could be a headache to decide which government should pay more for the construction and operation of an intercity railway line connecting Beijing and a city in Hebei province,' Yang said. 'It cannot be simply measured by length. It should include consideration of which party will get the most economic benefits from the new line, as well as many other issues.'
Such issues can be hurdles slowing the construction of transportation links between Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, Yang said.
The Ministry of Transport has said the central government will accelerate the building of a regional transportation network in 2019 by speeding up construction of railways and expressways between Beijing and Xiongan New Area in Hebei, strengthening coordinated development of ports and airports, and improving the standard of cross-border transportation services.
A national plan for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei transportation integration released by the central government in 2015 called on the authorities to build a transportation network, centered on Beijing, that would enable people to travel to neighboring regions up to 70 kilometers away in just an hour.
But there is still only one expressway and one intercity railway line between Beijing and Tianjin, and there are no dedicated intercity railway lines linking Beijing and cities in Hebei province.
'For mature city clusters in developed countries, intercity railways usually play a major role in public transportation,' Yang said. 'For instance, there are nine intercity lines between Tokyo and Yokohama in Japan, but only two expressways link the two cities.'
The integrated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region may still have a long way to go in terms of intercity rail links, but the new subway line connecting downtown Beijing to the capital's soon-to-open Daxing International Airport stands to become a milestone in the improvement of the regional transportation network.
According to Tianjin's Government Work Report for 2019, it will start construction of an intercity railway line between the city and Beijing's new airport and press ahead with preliminary work on an intercity line between Tianjin and Chengde, a city in Hebei that is a popular tourism destination.
The Beijing Municipal Government's Work Report said the new airport subway line will extend to Xiongan, while construction of an expressway linking the capital and Xiongan is expected to start by the end of 2019. Construction of the 27-km section between Beijing's southwest Fifth Ring Road and the border with Hebei will cost 18.7 billion yuan ($2.7 billion).
Mao Baohua, another professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, who focuses on urban railway design, said that once the lines are built, an integrated transportation service system should be established in the region to support the network.
'The service system is so important, otherwise many problems will occur,' he said. 'First, the price for intercity subway lines cannot be high, in order to attract travelers, which means it will need subsidies in the early years of operation.'
That meant a coordination mechanism would have to be formed to make decisions on issues such as the proportion of subsidy payments each administration should shoulder, Mao said.