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    Wuhan enjoys new light rail metro line services
Li Jing
2004-09-29 05:35

Wuhan: Living in the most important transportation hub in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, residents in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, can now enjoy new public transit: urban light rail.

The city's first such metro line formally went into operation yesterday.

The No 1 Metro Line, which has 10 stations, runs 10 kilometres from Huangpu to Zongguan in the downtown area of Hankou District at a fare charge of 3 yuan (36 US cents) for a single ticket, said Yao Chunqiao, deputy manager of the Wuhan Rail Transit Co Ltd.

He said the line is to be extended to a total length of nearly 30 kilometres to serve an additional 16 stations by 2010.

With a total investment of 2.2 billion yuan (US$266 million), the metro line in Wuhan is the first one in the country to use a communication-based train control system, which is relatively new compared with traditional track-based systems, said Yao.

"After open bidding, we decided to choose the signalling technology provided by Alcatel for its advantages in maximizing operation flexibility and expandability, and minimizing maintenance costs at the same time. We are very happy to be the first to use the technology," said Yao.

Alcatel is a France-based telecommunications firm.

"Under the system, the designed minimum interval is only 90 seconds between two trains and the travelling speed is as high as 80 kilometres per hour," said Yao.

He emphasized that the train control system had been proven to be a secure and reliable one after many on-site experiments simulating almost all kinds of situations such as emergency braking and two trains running head on one track.

Guy Sellier, vice-president of the Transport Automation Solutions unit of Alcatel's Asia-Pacific Region, said one of the most eye-catching features of the Wuhan metro line is that the trains are basically driverless.

"So each morning, the central control operator initiates schedule loading to the trains which then perform runs automatically, controlled by the management system. When the operator moves trains out from the depot, the system automatically launches the trains to the schedule," said Sellier.

With a population of more than 8 million, Wuhan is divided into three parts - Wuchang where government departments flock, Hankou, a commercial hub, and Hanyang, culture orientated, - by the mainstream of the Yangtze River and the Hanjiang River, the Yangtze's tributary.

"The city urgently needs an efficient modern metro network to meet the increasing demands of its citizens and tourists for improved mobility while reducing air pollution and optimizing the use of land," said Yao.

He said the construction of the second phase of the No 1 line, the No 2 line, which will connect Hankou and Wuchang, and the No 4 subway, which will link up Wuchang and Hanyang, will begin soon and are expected to be completed by 2010.

In the long run, the city will be blessed with an urban track transport network that is 220 kilometres in length and is capable of handling half of the city's public transport demand, said Yao.

(China Daily 09/29/2004 page3)


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