Understanding the urban expansion process along inter-city rail transit corridors is critical to regional integration of city groups. Though numerous studies have considered the influences of rail transit on land use and urban form, most have focused on local station areas or intra-city urban structures. Few studies have examined the effects and dynamic process along inter-city rail transit corridors at a regional scale. In this study, multi-remote sensing images, landscape metrics and gradient analysis were combined to investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of urban expansion and regional structural changes along the GuangFo inter-city Metro in the Pearl River Delta, south China. We introduced Thiessen Polygon into quadrat zoning for landscape gradient analysis, and clearly revealed the spatial variations of landscape changes along the metro transect. The regional expansion stage and inter-city structural changes were further detected based on the theoretical framework of diffusion-coalescence growth. This study revealed that during its construction the GuangFo Metro significantly impacted urban expansion at the urban fringes. Before construction the urban patches became irregular and fragmented as the gradient moved from city centers to city fringes. Influenced by the GuangFo Metro, the urban patches expanded and consequently coalesced into a homogenous urbanized area, which indicated that coalescence was the dominant expansion stage and the regional structure become more aggregated. This suggested that the inter-city rail transit has played an important role in promoting the integration of the GuangFo metropolitan region.
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