Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2008, Vol. 63 ›› Issue (10): 1097-1107.doi: 10.11821/xb200810009

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Spatial Polarization of Railway Transport in Northeast China: 1990-2005

XIU Chunliang1, ZHAO Yinghui1,2, SONG Wei3   

  1. 1. Department of Geography, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China;
    2. School of Resource and Environment, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin 150030, China;
    3. Department of Geography and Geosciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA
  • Received:2008-01-11 Revised:2008-07-19 Online:2008-10-25 Published:2008-10-25
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40571050


The focus of this research is to examine the spatial polarization of railroad transport in Northeast China. Railroad sections which are consistent for the years of 1990, 1994, 1999, 2000 and 2005 were used as the basic spatial units of analysis, for each of which the length, and passenger and freight flow densities were collected. GIS techniques were first employed to analyze spatial characteristics in the change of railway passenger and freight flow densities. Disparities in the distribution of passenger and freight densities, as well as their degrees of spatial polarization were then evaluated with Gini Coefficient, Theil Index, H Index, and TW Index. Three railroad trunklines, Harbin-Dalian, Shenyang-Shanhaiguan, and Manzhouli- Harbin-Suifenhe, were also highlighted and examined in terms of the change in the absolute passenger and freight turnovers and relative shares. The research reveals that: (1) there is a strong spatial polarization for passenger flows in the 1990s, while the trend of polarization has been weakened and even somewhat reversed since 2000. (2) A trend toward polarization has been exhibited for freight flows in the upper bound direction (toward middle Harbin-Dalian Railway and south inner Shanhaiguan). (3) In the background of changing spatial distribution of both passenger and freight flows, the significance of Harbin-Dalian Railway has been greatly enhanced in the railroad network of Northeast China. Passenger flows outside Harbin-Dalian Railway are moving toward a more dispersed pattern. Changes in the distribution of railroad transport indicate that in Northeast China, regional polarization has been concentrated toward along Harbin-Dalian Railway. Regional system has become less hierarchical, with the spatial influence and control of Harbin-Dalian Railway at the top of the hierarchy greatly boosted. Meanwhile, the railroad network and the regional economy have become increasingly integrated.

Key words: railway transport geography, spatial polarization, passenger flow density, freight flow density, polarization index, Northeast China