Funding problems delaying super transport hubs
Although Beijing plans to spend billions of yuan on transport hubs, many are being delayed and pared back because of funding problems, the recent China International Forum on Urban Mass Transit in Shanghai heard.
A comprehensive transport hub typically combines metro railway, high-speed rail, an intercity station, an airport and a port.
The first such hub, Luohu station on the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border opposite Lowu, has a metro and intercity railway station.
'A lot of hubs have problems,' said Lu Yuan, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University.
One example is the high-speed train station in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province.
The Jinan station lies along the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, the nation's longest and most expensive high-speed rail link. Although the high-speed-train station was operational, the Jinan station had lagged behind in building metro and bus stations and other facilities due to lack of funds, Lu said.
Similar problems plague the hubs in Xinyang city, Henan, which has a budget of 3 billion yuan (HK$3.67 billion) and the one in Wuzhou, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, with a budget of 1.6 billion yuan.
Lu said both had had to be scaled down.
He said the problem common to the three hubs was the inability to sell land.
Lu said the fate of the hubs depended on them supplementing revenue with land sales, as operating revenue was not enough to cover the huge investment.
'Second- and third-tier cities in remote western regions are at risk because they can't sell land at high prices,' he said.
In contrast, major cities like Guangzhou should have no problems on this front, so their hubs faced no financial risks, Lu said.
During the 12th five-year plan, from 2011 to 2015, Beijing planned to have 42 hubs built, National Development and Reform Commission counsel Li Guoyong said.
One hub under construction is Harbin West railway station, costing more than 70 billion yuan and featuring a railway station and metro. 'Comprehensive transport hubs are needed to facilitate the smooth flow of cargo and passengers,' Li said.
'The development of comprehensive transport hubs is necessary to change the development direction of the nation's transportation, in order to improve efficiency.'
Zhang Guohua, vice-chairman of the Transportation Institute of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said aviation must be integrated with land transport because by 2015 the country would have overtaken the US to have the world's biggest aviation industry.
He predicted that Chongqing, Chengdu, Kunming and Harbin were possible locations for transport hubs with airports and high-speed railways.
Combining high-speed-train stations and airports in the same hub would prevent destructive competition, said Andrew Sharp, director general of the International Air Rail Organisation.