Research Portal

October 16, 2023

Does high-speed rail mitigate peak vacation car traffic to tourist city? Evidence from China

Pan, H., Gao, Y., Shen, Q., Moudon, A. V., Tuo, J., & Habib, K. N. (2023). Does high-speed rail mitigate peak vacation car traffic to tourist city? Evidence from China. Transport Policy, 143, 93–105.

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Tourist travel contributes greatly to transport problems in attractive tourist cities. To take full advantage of high-speed rail (HSR) for alleviating massive car traffic during the peak vacation period, this paper analyses the travel modes of domestic visitors to Shaoxing before and after the operation of HSR. Scenario-based comparison and a random-coefficients structure Mixed Logit (MXL) model with error components were adopted to analyze the travel mode change and the factors explaining tourists’ travel mode choices. Our findings show that the HSR modal share increased substantially at the expense of express buses, more than cars. Also, HSR was found to be less competitive than cars on toll-free days for medium short travel distances. The MXL model results indicate that HSR was more likely to be used over automobiles by young people, females, and one-destination travellers, for longer travel distances, and with high service frequency to Shaoxing. Besides, online booking services were highly associated with HSR use. Driving was favoured over HSR by higher income level groups, when travelling with family or friends, on toll-free national holidays. Current government policy to waive road tolls during the peak holiday period further induced car traffic to tourist cities. When individual taste was considered, tourists showed a similar preference in their valuation of the travel time variable, while were heterogenous in their preference for low per-distance cost. Our findings suggest that the adjustment of the road-toll policy, pre-booking design for targeted tourists, and measures to reduce the total travel time of HSR should be considered to promote HSR as well as impede the use of cars during peak periods. This study offers empirical evidence of achieving effective travel demand management and reducing car dependence through HSR and complementary measures.


High-speed rail; Tourist mode choice; Tourist travel package; Travel demand management