Xiangjun Chen, Zhichao Shen, Chen Huang
High-speed rail has developed rapidly in China in recent years. It sped up to 350 kilometers per hour lately, and has shortened the trip from Beijing to Nanjing to 3.5 hours. Therefore, high-speed rail has become the first choice for travel less than 4 hours (and even for longer trip considered the frequent-occurring flight delay). The existing map-based application or ticketing website work only if people have decided both departure city and destination. However, when it comes to choose holiday destination, people are more concerned of the travel time and all reachable destinations within it are welcome. This project is to solve this problem. The project, Those Places High-speed Rail Could Take You To, is a visualized interactive map that shows high-speed rail lines within 3/4/5/6 hours from any picked city in China. For example, departing from Beijing, the map shows that the high-speed rail will take passengers to Tianjin within one hour, to Jinan within two hours, to Zhengzhou within three hours and to Nanjing within four hours, etc. It also shows famous scenic sites along the railway. The potential of monetization of this project is to include more LBS data such as national park, shopping center, museums and entertainment along the railway, to make it a more useful application that our readers will be willing to pay for the information it provides to plan for their trip. As more users leaving their footprint on the map, the user behavior data is also useful for the travel agencies and railway bureau.
What makes this project innovative?
The project is both useful and educational. Not only being a powerful tool to chose travel destination, it also demonstrates interesting geographic and economic knowledge of China. For example, more developed cities have more high-speed railway lines. And if you look at the southeastern part of China, lines are much shorter than in other part, meaning that the train reaches shorter distance within the same time, and it makes sense because it is a mountainous area. Making it simple but informative, our goal is to let our readers spend more time to play around with the map, get their problem solved, and leave with interesting findings.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The project was released about a week before the seven-day National Holiday (October 10th). The good quality of data visualization drew attention and many of our readers actually use it to make their holiday plan. Not like other data news project whose influence usually stays for 36, at most 72 hours, this project cast a long-tail impact for weeks.
Source and methodology
To develop this project, we use web crawler technology to extract data of train timetable from 12306.com, the official railway ticketing website. Then we write functions that could calculate the travel time of any two stations and code it with programming language d3.js. Finally, we design this zoomable interface and show results with simple and elegant data visualization. In addition, in the mobile version the departure station will be automatically chosen according to the device’s current location. Data crawler (using Python)Data visualization by d3.jsSource: Database of Ministry of Railways