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How High-Speed Rail Could Benefit Smaller Cities

In a new report, researchers say that high-speed rail has created "market integration" between three large Chinese cities and smaller "satellite" cities outside of them, and that some of their conclusions can apply to California's current effort.

What’s the Latest Development?

A report published online at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Web site describes studies done on high-speed rail in China, and states that high-speed rail benefits smaller cities and the larger cities they’re connected to in several important ways. The larger cities — in this case Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou — experience less pressure on their infrastructure, while the smaller cities experience housing appreciation and demographic growth. Additionally, market integration between cities seems to work best “for places roughly 60 to 470 miles apart — too far to drive but often not far enough to justify the cost of flying.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The report authors, Siqi Zheng of Tsinghua University and Matthew Kahn of UCLA, take pains to note that certain factors, some unique to China, led them to their conclusions. However, as California’s battle towards building a high-speed rail line continues, Kahn said in a UCLA press release that much of the research represents “great news for landowners in the Bakersfields of the world, because we can identify areas that are effectively going to have the option of becoming a new suburb to the superstar cities.” Bakersfield is about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

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Read it at The Atlantic Cities


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