Saturday, January 10, 2009

US$ 11.7 Billion for Light Rail Inter-Urban

While we fight locally for our politicians to see the light (no pun intended), Guangdong, China just said they would invest US$ 11.7b...yes, BILLION for only an initial phase of inter-urban LRT linking Guangzhou to other cities in the region. You can read the China Daily coverage here.

The Guangdong governor said last week that the provincial government would invest 350 billion yuan before 2050 in building a 1,900 kilometre rail network in the Pearl River Delta Region. By the end of 2012, the government there says that 1,100 kilometres of railway will have already been built. The goal is to connect Guangzhou to all other cities in the region in less than one hour.

Over the 10 years that I lived in Asia as a senior expat executive I witnessed the transformation of Bangkok people-moving with the Siemens built Skytrain, expansion of light rail in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or Manila, Philippines, and elsewhere. I loved visiting Singapore and each time I flew in for R&R, the Singapore government was adding more MRT stations to their very efficient rail system. I rode the rails for 18-20 hours each way from Bangkok to Hat Yai, Thailand and on to Penang, Malaysia too many times to count and enjoyed the 2nd Class aircon rail cars, but didn't appreciate the rats that would scurry under your bunk at night, nor the large Asia water bugs (cockroaches) that would crawl on you while you try to sleep.

In all ways transit and by necessity, governments in Asia have had to look to light rail transit and other alternatives to ease traffic congestion. Building new roadways and highways never worked for them. When I lived in Bangkok and prior to the completion of Skytrain and subway, it could take you up to 3 hours or more to travel only 3 miles from your home. I lived in the city of perpetual traffic jams day and night. I've never seen a roadway ease congestion. I have to chuckle at people that see roads as a legitimate solution. I'm content to have them proceed with their exercises in futility, provided that they allow our communities to get light rail. Once we get the rail I will be content to look out the window of the train and smile back as they sit in traffic congestion.


Corey said...

Like Mexico, (now frantically building rail projects) China sees the writing on the wall. Like Mexico, it recognizes that oil production will never be able to supply a mass motoring society in the country, and like Mexico, they know that their own fields are declining as well. They know that within 50 years, rail will be the main mode by which the average Joe will travel.

Before all this happens then, these countries blessed with enough foresight are building sustainable transportation projects and infrastructure as fast as possible, and investing large amounts of public money to do so. Unlike here, where we are stuck in the consensus trance of Kunstler's "happy motoring" society, building new highways like it was 1950 all over again...

Corey said...

Can I also maybe suggest that you allow "approved" posters to directly post their comments, rather than waiting for approval?

It might even get a discussion going!

Joe Zaccaria said...


We'd love to do that, but as site owners/moderators we are responsible for comments made on this blog. At times people use blogs to make libelous statements against political and other leaders, etc. Also, there is a huge potential for open-gate spam.

I've also checked the settings and we are unable to approve or reject certain visitors. We can only moderate or allow all to comment without moderation. Sorry about that.

Light Rail Guy said...

Just a note:

Quote: "I witnessed the transformation of Bangkok people-moving with the Siemens built SkyTrain."

The Siemens elevated metro is called SkyTrain because it is a conventional elevated metro system and Bangkok's SkyTrain bears absolutely no relationship to Bombardier's Proprietary SkyTrain light-metro system. Most elevated transit systems are called SkyTrain or Airtrain.