This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.


China's Rail Investment/Operating Mileage/Passenger/Freight Volume

Fixed Asset Investment (billions)$117.0$121.1$117
Operating Mileage (kilometers)124,000127,000131,000
Passenger Traffic Volume (billions)
Freight Volume (billion tons)
(Source: National Railway Administration of China website and South China Morning Post)

Railway transportation continues to play a key role in China's economic development.  In 2018, China’s railway operating mileage reached 131,000 kilometers, ranking second after the United States, while its high-speed railway operating mileage reached 29,000 kilometers, ranking first worldwide.  China plans to have 150,000 kilometers of operating rail lines by 2020.

China’s double-track mileage reached 76,000 kilometers, an increase of 5.6% over 2017; and the double-track rate is 58%, 2.6% higher than 2017.  China has 92,000 kilometers of electrified railway and an electrification rate of 70%, an increase of 1.8% over 2017.  Railway mileage in western China grew to 53,000 kilometers, an increase of 1,000 kilometers or 1.9% over 2017.  The volume of goods transported by railway increased every year from 2016 to 2018.

China has 21,000 locomotives of which 38% are diesel and 62% are electric.  China has 72,000 passenger cars and 830,000 freight cars, which is a freight car increase of 66,000 over 2017.  China plans to continue to invest heavily in new rolling stock through 2020 with 900 new high-speed trains, 4,000 locomotives, and 210,000 freight wagons on order.
Urban Rail Transit Industry
China is the world’s largest urban rail market.  By the end of 2018, 37 cities in China had metro/light rail operation lines with a combined length of 5,760 km, up 693 km over 2017.  Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have the largest rail transit systems in China with cities in east China continuing to experience the fastest growth in urban rail transit in China.  In 2018, China spent $81.5 billion on the construction of urban rail transport, up 14.9% year-on-year and a total of 6,370 km of new lines were under construction.  China plans to have a total of 9,500 km expected in operation country wide by 2021 with Jinan, Lanzhou, Changzhou, Xuzhou and Huhhot expected to place new metro lines in operation in 2019.
American Rail Working Group (ARWG)
The U.S. Embassy Commercial Section in Beijing (USFCS Beijing) launched an American Rail Working Group (ARWG) in January 2009 to strengthen public-private cooperation in the rail sector.  The ARWG currently features 15 U.S. company members and benefits from close partnerships with the Chinese railway and urban rail sector.  The ARWG meets regularly in Beijing and USFCS Beijing organizes industry road shows and seminars in China for ARWG members.  New company members are welcome to join.

For ARWG membership inquiries, please contact the U.S. Embassy Commercial Section in Beijing by email:    


In the freight rail market, according to China’s National Railway Administration (NRA), by 2020 China plans to grow its railway freight volume to 4.2 billion tons.  To achieve this goal, Chinese railway authorities and operational organizations are seeking new technologies and services to continue to improve cargo shipping efficiency and lower operating costs. By 2020, China’s urban rail transit market is expected to have a total of 7,700 km of urban rail lines.

Opportunities also exist for American companies as the suppliers to China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), the world's largest supplier of rail transit equipment for the railway and urban rail sector, for both the China market and third country rail markets.

Rail Industry Technology and Equipment
  • Locomotives: brake system, compressor, radiator, and other parts;
  • Rolling Stock/Freight car: brake system, coupler, door control, and other parts;
  • Wheel/rail optimization by wheel/rail profile design and management, wheel/rail friction control and lubrication;
  • New track design, new track components;
  • Track maintenance technologies; track/vehicle detection and monitoring technologies;
  • IT systems;
  • Power generators;
  • Railway design and construction technologies;
  • Railway safety;
  • Passenger station design and construction;
  • Energy conservation and environmental protection.
  • Metro/Light Rail Industry Technology and Equipment
  • Urban rail rolling stock and components;
  • Communication and signaling;
  • Power supply and distribution;
  • Electromechanical systems;
  • Security technology and equipment;
  • IT system;
  • Engineering and construction, survey, and design;
  • Track maintenance;
  • Friction and noise control.

Upcoming Trade Shows & Events

14th Shanghai International Exhibition of Intercity and Urban Mass Transit
Shanghai, China

Web Resources

National Railway Administration (NRA):          
China Railway Corporation (C.R.):                      
CRRC Corporation Limited:                                   
U.S. Commercial Service Contact for Rail and Urban Rail
U.S. Embassy Commercial Section in Beijing, China
Ida (Aiqun) Peng, Senior Commercial Specialist
U.S. Consulate in Shanghai
Lisa Ouyang, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Consulate in Chengdu 
Shiyang Cui, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou
Roya Xie, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Consulate in Shenyang 
Dongmei Sun, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Consulate in Wuhan
Wang Jing, Commercial Specialist

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China Design and Construction Rail Transportation Trade Development and Promotion