since the birth of the first railway in Britain in 1825, has developed into the main force of land freight transport in economically developed countries for more than a century. Rail transport has outstanding advantages such as large carrying capacity, higher speed, low freight rate, less affected by climate and seasonal changes, safety and reliability, low pollution, and low energy consumption, etc. The disadvantage is that the mobility is poor. Unless the enterprise has its own dedicated line, it cannot provide “door-to-door” service. Therefore, railways are suitable for bulk cargo such as coal, ore, steel, petroleum, timber, cement, cotton grain, fertilizers and pesticides, etc., and medium and long-distance transportation. By the end of 2005, China’s existing railway operating mileage was more than 73,000 kilometers, of which the double-track rate was more than 30%, and the electrified railway was more than 20,000 kilometers, accounting for 27.4%. It is estimated that by 2010, the national railway operating mileage will reach more than 90,000 kilometers, and the double-track and electrification rates will reach more than 45%. Since the founding of New China, railways have always been the backbone of China’s transportation system. In the country’s total freight volume, railways account for about 50%; and in the total cargo turnover volume, it accounts for about 70%. China has a vast territory, with a distance of more than 5,200 kilometers from east to west and a span of more than 5,500 kilometers from north to south. It has a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers. The exchange and transportation of goods between industrial and mining enterprises and urban and rural areas in various regions mainly rely on railways. Therefore, for a long time to come, railways will continue to play a major role in our country’s transportation industry.
Space activities of road transport are highly flexible. By the end of 2005, the total mileage of highways in China was more than 1.93 million kilometers, and more than 99.8% of the townships had access to highways, and cargo could adopt motor transport. The outstanding advantage of motor transport is to provide “door-to-door” transport services for goods. At the same time, motor transport is different from rail transport. The cargos generally do not need to be transferred during the transportation process, and they are directly shipped from the departure station to the arrival station for unloading. However, the carrying capacity of motor transport is small, and the freight rate is also high. It is mainly suitable for medium and short distance transportation of small and medium batches of cargos, and it is used for collecting and distributing cargos on main lines of transportation for railways and water transportation. In addition, it undertakes long-distance freight transport for small and medium-sized towns and remote areas that do not have access to railways. With the development of expressways and heavy-duty trucks, the delivery speed and carrying capacity of automobile freight transport will be greatly improved, and it will be conducive to the development of long-distance transportation.
Uses inland natural or artificially excavated rivers and coastal waters to transport cargos by ships and barges. It has the advantages of low investment, less land occupation, low cost, and large carrying capacity. It is suitable for long-distance transportation of bulk cargos. But the speed of ship transportation is slow, and the transportation is easily interrupted by natural conditions and changes in water conditions (such as winter freezing or dry season). China has the Pearl River in the south, the Yangtze River, Qiantang River, Yellow River, and Huaihe River in the middle, the Haihe River, Songhua River, and Heilongjiang River in the north, and the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal runs through the north and south, with a total of more than 123,300 kilometers of inland waterways. In addition, the offshore route connecting the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea is about 18,000 nautical miles. It plays an important role in facilitating east-west and north-south cargo exchanges, sharing part of the railway cargo flow, and saving social labor. For example, from Dandong, Liaoning in the north, to Fangcheng, Guangxi in the south, through the main ports of Qinhuangdao, Dalian, Qingdao, and Lianyungang in the middle, etc., the transportation aorta of coal and oil in major ports is increasing year by year.
Air transport is the bright younger generation. It has the advantages of the fastest transportation speed, good time efficiency, and relatively simple requirements for the packaging of goods. The disadvantage is that the carrying capacity is small and the freight charges is high. Therefore, it is only suitable for some high-priced commodities with small transportation volume and particularly sensitive to time requirements. In foreign countries, with the emergence of large passenger planes and special cargo transport planes, air transport has replaced part of the railway, road and ocean freight transport, and has great development. Although the development of China’s air freight transport is relatively late, the development speed is relatively fast. There are more than 130 civil airports, and the freight transport volume shows a trend of rapid growth.