GUANGZHOU: The world's fastest underground train will zip through South China's Guangdong provincial capital this morning, starting a service that will hopefully tackle the city's heavy traffic problem.
Consisting of three train cars and worth more than 36 million yuan (US$4.5 million), it is the most advanced underground train on the Chinese mainland.
The train, speeding 135 kilometres an hour, will take less than an hour to get from Panyu in southern Guangzhou to the city's international airport in Guangzhou's northern Huadu District.
"The operation of the Metro Line 3 will greatly help ease Guangzhou's heavy traffic pressure and benefit more than 200,000 residents who are now living along the subway line," Zhang Changjun, deputy chief engineer with Guangzhou Metro Corp, said in a press conference over the weekend.
The metro train makes its debut journey on Guangzhou's Metro Line 3, which runs from the city's south to the north across the Pearl River.
"At the beginning, the advanced and the fastest underground will be operating among only six stations from Chigang in Guangzhou's Haizhu District to Guangzhou's Tianhe Railway Station on Guangzhou's Metro Line 3," said Zhang.
The fast train that has 142 seats reaches a capacity of 675 passengers, and the train cars will be able to operate for more than 30 years.
Guangzhou's Metro Line 3, the longest subway line in the city, runs from Panyu Square in the city's Panyu District to the new Guangzhou International Airport.
When it begins full operation in future years, it will run a course of more than 84 kilometres.
With advanced technologies and facilities, passengers can enjoy live broadcasting of many television programmes while they are enjoying their underground trips on the Metro Line 3, Zhang said.
Qiao Zhuanghua, a Guangzhou resident, said she had been longing for operation of the Metro Line 3 for years.
"It will take me only half an hour, from home, to reach my office in Tianhe District (a new business centre in Guangzhou)," Qiao told China Daily yesterday.
Qiao lives in Guangzhou's Panyu District, once known as a suburban area of the southern metropolis.
Made by Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Corp in Central China's Hunan Province, each of the train cars are 2.8 metres wide and 19.98 metres long.
Apart from the fast train, Guangzhou underground's other services Metro Line 1 and Line 2 operate at a speed of about 60 kilometres an hour.
To further improve the city's environment, Guangzhou municipal government decided to start annual construction and operation of a new subway line in the following six years.
The city's Metro Line 4 will soon start operation in the first half of 2006, joining the advanced underground network that includes 143 metro stations.
Guangzhou plans on having eight subway lines, totalling 229.6 kilometres in length, servicing the city when it holds the Asian Games in 2010.
(China Daily 12/26/2005 page3)