- From “Insertion” to “Incorporation”: the Hangzhou Example of the Transformation of the Railway in Chinese Urban Life   click here to open paper content745 kb
by    He, Shan | shan.he@uwa.edu.au   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper takes Hangzhou City as case study to review the relationship
between rail and urban life in contemporary China. The conclusions
illuminate today’s practice of planning and design of new towns around
station nodes of high-speed rail infrastructure.
Since the first introduction of railways during the late 19th century,
China has witnessed a transformation from “insertion” to “incorporation” in
terms of the relationship between railway and city. The traditionally
closed Chinese cities were substantially reshaped by the penetration of the
railway, particularly the urban life around station nodes. This paper will
take the example of Hangzhou City, capital of the Zhejiang Province, to
examine such a transformation. The history of Hangzhou’s railways and
stations will be explored, dating back to 1909 when the first line linking
Shanghai and Hangzhou was laid outside the perimeter of Hangzhou’s city
walls. The penetration of walls was rejected by the local authority over
concerns about the destruction of the city’s “defence system”. However, 104
years later, Hangzhou is now embracing one of the largest stations of its
scale in China, serving lines connecting all major cities nationwide.
Moreover, an entirely new town has been established around this new
station, customising new economies oriented at the high-speed rail (HSR)
infrastructure in the future. Through literature and comparison studies, a
transition of relationship between railway and urban life in four
chronological periods is found during the past century. They are Insertion
during the late imperial and early industrial period (1900s-1930s),
Isolation during the Communism industrialisation period (1950s-1970s),
Marginalisation during the recent urbanisation period (1980s-2000s) and
Incorporation today.

The analysis section will discuss the factors that powered such a dramatic
shift in relation to the political/economic backgrounds of the four
chronological periods. Through comparing the different historical roles of
railway in urban life, conclusions are made that today’s rail
transportation in China is fully focused at the national scale while rail
hierarchy at the metropolitan and regional scales is weak or incomplete.
These conclusions will illuminate today’s practice of planning and design
of new towns around station nodes of the HSR infrastructure, aiming at
inventing a new urban life fully integrated with the railways.
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