Project description

Taking high-speed railway has been a very normal option for people to travel, no matter you are leaving from Beijing to Hong Kong or to Tianjin, which is only 30-minute rides. In most people’s mind, high-speed railway stations have some common characters, brand new, and… far away! In May 2018, one regulation was published demanding all new stations should be closed to downtowns. However, is it true that all high-speed railway stations are far away from populated areas? If so, why?

This is a series story. Two pieces of projects try answering the two questions one by one.

In the first story, we locate readers (of course for readers in China) and give the most closed station to them. Then the rank of the straight-line distances of all high-speed railway stations in China is released. Readers will know how their stations rank. But straight-line distance doesn’t stand for everything. If you are in a big city, the station could sound ‘far’ if it’s ten miles away, but people have convenient public transports. It might be only 20 minutes\’ rides by metro . But for people in small city, ten miles away might be two hours’ bus for them to get to. So the distance index was used to stand for the ‘real far feeling’ for people around.

Then an interesting point was found that for people in big cities, high-speed railway stations are quite closed and convenient, but for others, it\’s another story. So why?

Here comes to the second piece of the report. Through research, we used three examples to explain what happened when choosing spot for new station construction. The first one is quite weird: if you want to get to Xiantao city, you have to get off in Tianmen South Station, instead of Xiantao West Station, which is actually farther. It\’s a remained problem since the two local governments seized the opportunity to build high-speed station . The second example is the Xiaogan North Station, 79 kilometers (around 49 miles) away from Xiaogan City, while the station is actually located in ‘Dawu County’. In order to upgrade the station level from ‘County’ to ‘City’, the government decided to name it ‘Xiaogan North Station’, rather than ‘Dawu Station’. The outcome is that a lot of people would buy wrong tickets if they want to go to Xiaogan.

Another reason why stations were set in a far spot is that city planners believe that high-speed railway station can help develop a new area. But from research, a proper distance would be a better option for new area development, rather than too far or too closed.

What makes this project innovative?

Baidu Map API was used to locate readers, and a straight line would be drawn immidiately between the spot and the most closed station. It's not difficult technically, but this step helps draw readers into the project and make them feel "wow, this is about me and my life", instead of cold dataset. Because data is limited, the original academic research only counted distance index for several high-speed railway stations. But we made good use of station dataset, together with city center geographic data, we helped enlarge the research area to the whole country and got a bigger view. It helps research better, and gives readers a more acceptable way to understand the complicated problem.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

The scientific measure method, which uses straight distance divides city's construction area radius, got recognition from relavent experts and reporters. Readers like the smooth transition quite well. "The mesure method is a little bit difficult to understand, but the infomation visualization and graphics help me understand it well. And because of the interesting and smooth transition I would like to spend more time understanding this topic. It's quite intersting", quoted from one online reader.

Source and methodology

The railway station dataset was the one we used for last year's project "Those Places High-Speed Rail Could Take You To". And we located relavent city centers' latitudes and longitudes. Through governments' open data, we got the construction area. That's the resource of the main data. Besides, the methodology is quite important for this project. The 'distance index' was not invented by us. It's from an academical paper of Jiangsu Province Urban Planning Institute. Afterwards we had several long discussions with the paper's first author. This, together with the data we got, is the basic for the whole projact.

Technologies Used

The whole project page is set up by HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The location map in the first beginnning is from Baidu Map API. The interactive charts are made by D3.js, and static ones are made by Adobe Illustrator. For data analysis, we use Qgis for longitude and latitude processing and counting out the right straight distance.

Project members

Reporter & Developer: Jiaxin Liu; Reporter: Chao Xiao; Designer: Zumin Xia; Supervisor: Chen Huang, Mingzhong Geng

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