This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/25/2017

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





Total Fixed Asset Investment (billion)

RMB 737.1
US 112.7

RMB 823.8
US $125.9

US $ 117

Total Operating Mileage (kilometer)




Passenger Traffic Volume (billion)




Total Freight Volume (billion tons)




(Source: National Railway Administration of China website)

Railway transportation plays a key role in China's economic development. In 2016, China’s total railway operating mileage reached 124,000 kilometers, ranking second after the United States, while its high-speed railway operating mileage reached over 20,000 kilometers, ranking first worldwide. China is now considered technologically advanced in high-speed rail, high-altitude rail, and heavy-haul freight rail.

China’s double-track mileage reached 68,000 kilometers, an increase of 5.2% over the previous year; and the double-track rate is 54.9%, 1.4% higher than the previous year.  China has 80,000 kilometers of electrified railway, an increase of 7.4% over the previous year; and the electrification rate is 64.8%, an increase of 3% over the previous year. The railway mileage of the western region reached 50,000 kilometers, an increase of 2,230.9 kilometers or 4.6% over the previous year.

China’s passenger railway transport increases every year; however, the total volume of goods transported by China's national railway dropped in the last two years due to weak demand at home and abroad, factory overcapacity, and cooling investment. With recent economic changes, rail transport structure has changed dramatically. Some railway bureaus are looking for innovative opportunities to solve the problem of decreasing freight transport volumes. For example, Taiyuan Railway Bureau, China's largest railway freight transport bureau, is transiting from coal-dominant freight to "white goods" (non-coal cargo) transport.

In terms of equipment, China has a total of 21,000 locomotives. Among them, diesel locomotives account for 41.8%, and electric locomotives account for 58.1%. Railway passenger cars reached 7.1 million, an increase of 0.3 million over the previous year; and railway freight cars reached 764,000.
Urban Rail Transit Industry
Currently, China is the world’s largest urban rail market. By the end of 2016, 30 cities in China had metro/light rail operation lines extending 4,153 kilometers. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen share 70 percent of the built urban rail transit tracks in China. In 2016, China invested RMB384.7 billion in urban rail transit construction. By the end of 2016, NDRC approved new urban rail projects in 58 cities, with plans to lay down 7,305 kilometers of track.

In the freight rail market, according to National Railway Administration (NRA), by 2020 China plans to increase its railway freight volume to 4.2 billion tons, which means an average increase of 1.6 billion tons each year during China’s 13th Five Year Plan period (2016 – 2020). To achieve this goal, Chinese railway authorities and operational organizations are eager to implement new technologies, learn best practices, and study international standards on freight rail in order to continue to improve cargo shipping efficiency and lower operating costs. The U.S. freight rail network is widely considered one of the most dynamic freight systems in the world, with a rail network of 225,000 kilometers and broad experience in freight rail operation. U.S. companies own proprietary technologies and technical expertise with a demonstrated track record of success.

By 2020, China’s urban rail transit market is expected to have a total of 7,000 kilometers of urban rail lines, which brings opportunities for American OEM companies.

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.

The U.S. rail industry, organized in China through the U.S. Embassy Commercial Section’s American Railway Working Group (ARWG), is actively engaged in collaborating with Chinese partners to assist in developing China’s railway and urban rail industry in the following best opportunity areas.
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;
Communication, signaling, and IT systems;
Power generator;
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.
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 partnership with the Chinese railway and urban rail sector. The group 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: aiqun.peng@trade.goV
Trade Shows & Events
Modern Railways 2017
Dates: October 26 - 29, 2017
Venue: Shanghai, China
Staged for 13 editions since 1992, MODERN RAILWAYS has become the No. 1 railway show in Asia, playing an important role in promoting international railway exchanges and cooperation, and offered an ideal platform for railway enterprises from both at home and abroad.
China Guangzhou International Rail Transit Industry Expo (iMETRO 2017)
Dates: August 25 – 27, 2017
Venue: Guangzhou, Guangdong province
Web Resources
National Railway Administration (NRA)
China Railway Corporation (C.R.)
CRRC Corporation Limited
U.S. Commercial Service Contact for Rail and Urban Rail
Ida (Aiqun) Peng,
T:  +86 10-8531-3947
M:  +86 135-0117-8266
U.S. Consulate in Shanghai
Lisa Ouyang, Commercial Specialist
(86 21) 6279 8766;
U.S. Consulate in Chengdu 
Cui Shiyang (Sonny), Senior Commercial Specialist
(86 28) 8598 6546;
U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou
Lena Yang, Senior Commercial Specialist
(86 20) 3814 5173;
U.S. Consulate in Shenyang 
Dongmei Sun, Commercial Specialist
(86 24) 2322-1198;
U.S. Consulate in Wuhan
Wang Jing, Commercial Specialist
(86 27) 8555 7791 – 2808;

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

China Design and Construction Rail Transportation Trade Development and Promotion