Commentary

Is High Speed Rail Becoming China’s White Elephant?

The Heartland Institute has done a great service by making widely available a reprint of a feature article on China’s faltering high-speed rail adventure (increasingly misadventure). The article, “Fast Train to Trouble,” is from Caixin Weekly (April 4, 2011 issue), a business magazine focused on China’s economy and financial markets. The entire eight-page article is well worth reading, not so much because of its criticism of high-speed rail as the problems that seem inevitably associated with high-profile megaprojects, including the massive squandering of public resources, a lack of transparency during implementation, and the inadquacies of politically-based (rather than market-based) accountability.

For additional skepticism about China’s high-speed rail investment, see an earlier blog post here.

Rather than the crown jewel of China’s transportation network, high-speed rail is on track to become a boondoggle and a white elephant.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.