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Shanghai lines up new tram system

Updated: 2013-09-26 08:41
By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Proposal for six routes in Songjiang district part of 2020 goal for 800-km rail network

Shanghai is gauging public feedback on a proposed tram system.

City authorities have proposed building six lines — 90 kilometers of track — in southwestern Songjiang district. Powered by electricity, trams are rail vehicles that run on tracks along public streets.

Shanghai lines up new tram system

A woman takes photos of a tram model at a trade fair in Shanghai in May. Shanghai is proposing a tram system of six lines over 90 kilometers of track in Songjiang district and asking for public input until Oct 6. Lai Xinlin / for China Daily

The move is part of a wider goal to have 800 km of tram lines in operation by 2020 to supplement the public transportation network.

Transport experts have welcomed the move, while the initial response among commuters has also been positive.

"I drive to work every day and I hope the new system will help me get out of the car and onto the tram," college lecturer Zheng Weiyong said.

He lives in Songjiang New City, a major new-town development that will have an estimated 1.1 million residents by 2020 and the focal point in the proposed tram system. Five of the six lines will travel through Songjiang New City.

Zheng said he spends about 1,000 yuan ($160) a month on fuel and he complained that parking in the district can also be a headache.

Two of the tram lines will pass his home, "making life much more convenient", he said.

The teacher added that he hopes trams "won't take up lanes on busy roads, as that will just make things even more crowded".

According to the plan released by the Shanghai Transport and Port Authority, the trams will be relatively separate from other public transportation services in Songjiang to fill the gap left by the city's rapid transit system and buses.

The proposed lines — T1 to T6 — will have 118 stops with eight terminals. Some will link with Shanghai Metro's Line 9 and Line 22 at Songjiang University Town, Songjiang Sports Center and Sheshan stations.

By 2016, T1, stretching 16 km from Xinsongjiang Road Station to Xinqiao Station, and phase one of T2, initially about 12 km, will be complete, according to the plan.

The district government also wants to build a depot covering 20 hectares and four park-and-ride stations.

Zhou Huai, deputy director of the transport and port authority, said the tram system will be developed by domestic companies.

The public can send their views to the authority about the plan before Oct 6.

On Wednesday, experts said tram services have a great advantage over other public transportation and are suitable for new towns with lower populations than traditional urban centers.

China plans to build 2,000 km of modern tram lines by 2020, with an estimated investment of 200 billion yuan.

Transport experts say Shanghai could play a leading role in developing trams, using the latest technologies.

Buses use gasoline and produce emissions and noise, and the rapid transit system forces passengers to walk upstairs and downstairs, said Sun Zhang, a railway expert at Shanghai's Tongji University.

"But tram passengers can conveniently get on a vehicle in the street," he said. "They can also enjoy fast speeds, fresh air and appreciate the sights along the way."

Tram systems are also cost effective — about one-eighth the cost of a subway — and with modern technology, services can reach 70 km per hour, he said.

"I don't think the proposal will meet much opposition," Sun predicted. "Trams are a convenient and fast system, with less noise and low-energy consumption."

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