Spin-off benefits for cities down the line
The high-speed rail line from Beijing and Shanghai will do far more than just offer travellers a smooth and rapid journey between the mainland's political and economic centres.
The 300 km/h service is expected to have a far-reaching impact on the development of a string of second- and third-tier cities along the route.
From Langfang in Hebei - in the middle of the Beijing-Tianjin conurbation corridor - through Qufu in Shandong to Dingyuan county outside Nanjing , a chain of cities large and small suddenly find themselves within a few hours of the two mega-cities.
Along the 1,318- kilometre route between the two cities, there are 22 stations in four provinces and three municipalities.
Danny Ma, senior director of market research with property firm CB Richard Ellis, said the arrival of high-speed links to the cities would have a more profound impact than the rise of domestic air travel.
'It is very difficult to compare the impact of high-speed rail to aircraft,' he said.
'The costs involved are less for high-speed trains, so it is accessible to a wider group of passengers.
'Railway stations are also more easily accessible from the city centre and tend to be more integrated into the transport network.
'We believe high-speed rail will have a very significant impact on the development of the property markets in second- and third-tier cities along the route. It most certainly increases their attractiveness for investment.'
Ma said the impact would be most keenly felt in so-called corridor cities and hub cities.
Corridor cities form when a number of major urban centres grow to meet one another, forming a continuous ribbon of development.
'In these cities, the introduction of high-speed trains will act to reinforce the integration of the corridor and make them seem more inter-connected,' he said. This would speed up property and infrastructure investment.
Hub cities will benefit as a transit point for more peripheral urban centres, where there would also be a knock-on effect of the new transport link.
'The impact will not only be felt in the cities situated directly on the line,' Ma said, 'it will extend across the neighbouring areas as well.'