High-speed rail by country, per capita

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wikipedia has a convenient page here showing the amount of high-speed rail in existence by country, with the results for existing rail (not including planned) as follows:

China 6,158
Spain 2,665
Japan 2,118
France 1,872
Germany 1,032
Italy 923
Russia 780
Taiwan 345
Korea 330
Turkey 235
Belgium 209
Netherlands 120
United Kingdom 113
Switzerland 35

What it lacks though is the amount of high-speed rail per capita. This is a more telling figure to a certain extent because even large countries like Russia and Canada have areas with large concentrations of people. Because of this calculating the amount of high-speed rail by area would be an inaccurate way to tell how convenient rail in a country is for the people that live there.

So how much rail is there per capita? Let's look at it per million people.

High-speed rail per million inhabitants:

Spain - 58.8 km
France - 28.9 km
Belgium - 19.5 km
Japan - 16.7 km
Italy - 15.4 km
Taiwan - 15 km
Germany - 12.6 km
Netherlands - 7.2 km
Korea - 6.6 km
Russia - 5.6 km
China - 4.6 km
Switzerland - 4.6 km
Turkey - 3.1 km
United Kingdom - 1.8 km

You might be able to roughly say that a country becomes more or less fully connected at around the 10 km per resident level. Korea for example has high-speed rail from the capital to the second-largest city, but the KTX has not yet reached the southwest and the east. By 2017 it should be up to snuff. Taiwan is pretty much fully connected since it's a fairly small island and a simple north-south line is mostly sufficient.

A more accurate way to look at this though might be by region. Western Europe in particular is a place where looking at high-speed rail by country doesn't tell the full story. Belgium and the Netherlands are right next to each other, and if you live in Breda then Brussels one country over is about as far as Amsterdam.

The Wikipedia page also gives numbers for future high-speed rail, and this is interesting too. Without calculating the exact values, we can see that China aims to more than triple its existing length, Japan is aiming for a 15% increase, Turkey about the same increase as China, and countries such as Taiwan, Belgium, Netherlands and the UK are not planning anything new.


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