Between 2015 and 2030, three hundred million people will move into Chinese cities presenting an enormous challenge for sustainable development. In response, the government will embrace mega-regions that most-efficiently extend the the fruits and burdens of a powerhouse mega-region. As one of the world's leading innovators, they seek to make these areas more interconnected with technology that is ultra-fast, safe and competitively priced.
The first experimental route being proposed is between Shanghai and Hangzhou, which would turn the 180 kilometer one-hour train ride into a ten minute journey.
170 kilometers (105 miles)
- 7 minutes on Hyperloop
- 1 hour by current modes train or 2.5 hours by car.
- Combined GDP of $530 billion.
- Connecting two cities with a total population of 35 million.
- Connecting the world's largest port with 325 of the world's 500 largest companies serviced by three international airports.
The Pudong New Area in Shanghai is the product of experimentation following its reforms beginning in 1990. Its population grew by 60% between 2000 and 2010.
Shanghai is the megacity anchoring the super-region of the Yangtze River Delta with more than 150 million people. Nearly 4 trillion RMB will be invested in intercity cargo transport by 2025.
Prolonging the Economic Boom
China’s economic development in 2016 teeters on a fine line of two opposing forces. On one hand, the government seeks to prolong the country’s twenty year economic boom that lifted 300 million out of poverty. But, in the face of overpopulated cities and environmental woes, there is growing pressure to improve upon the haphazard development of the last twenty years. The Chinese Communist Party, eager to maintain its legitimacy through economic growth, recognizes these problems, but is unlikely to yield in its vision to bring another 300 million out of rural poverty and into urban areas. Surely, such a scale of urbanization will only further exacerbate the problems, such as air pollution, urban sprawl and congestion, that already hold back economic growth in urban areas.
One billion people are projected to live in Chinese cities by 2030. How will China reconcile with an unprecedented scale of urbanization with the enormous strain it already has and will continue to place on the its cities’ environment and resources? In response, the government released a plan in 2014 entitled China’s New Ur banization Plan (2014 - 2020), which highlights the following:
In essence, cities within the same regions, such as the Yangtze River Delta with more than 150 million residents, will become more integrated. These cities will surround megacities, such as Shanghai, which will then deflect to neighboring satellite cities economic growth as to share both the burdens and fruits of production. In line with these goals, the plan also highlights the importance of creating comprehensive intercity transportation networks and improving urban sustainability. Intercity transportation methods, it writes, shall promote “the spread of central city functions to areas one hour away”. One hour, however, entails only 125 miles on high speed rail, which at the time of publication was the only foreseeable feasible method of transport besides planes. With the Hyperloop, one hour traverses 750 miles, and half an hour, 375 miles; enough to dissipate the burdens of pollution and congestion.
With the macroeconomic basis covered, read in more detail about the proposed route between Shanghai and Hangzhou here.