sharing the Olympic spirit

Beijing opens new subway to ease road congestion
Updated: 2007-10-07 16:37


BEIJING -- Beijing opened a new subway line on Sunday in a bid to boost public transport and ease road congestion ahead of the Olympics.

The file photo taken on September 30 shows the Chongwenmen Station on Beijing's No. 5 subway. 

Beijing's No. 5 subway line, which runs through the heart of the city from north to south, opened at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, when the week-long National Day holiday ended.

The 27.6-km line, after nearly five years' construction, is installed with 23 stations and runs from Tiantongyuan North Station in northern Beijing's Changping district to Songjiazhuang Station in southern Fengtai district.

"The launch of the No. 5 subway line indicates that Beijing's rail transport is on a track of fast development," said Liu Qi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC (Communist Party of China) Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, at the opening ceremony.

"It is of great significance for the city to ease traffic pressure, provide easier transport for the public, ... speed up construction of Olympic infrastructure, and ensure a high-level Olympic Games," he said.

Equipped with a wireless communication network, live broadcasts will be provided on televisions installed in each subway car and passengers will never lose the signal on their mobile phones.

The subway cars are wider and taller than the ones operating on the older lines and are designed to reach speeds of 80 km per hour. Elevators designed to aid disabled people have been installed.

Construction of the new subway line began in December, 2002 and involved 12 billion yuan (about $1.6 billion) in investment.

Prior to this, Beijing had four subway lines with a total mileage of 114 km transporting about 1.15 million passengers daily, 15 percent of the total commuters.

According to the municipal government, Beijing will add three subway lines next year and the total mileage will reach 200 km.

The launch of the new subway line is among Beijing's recent efforts to boost public transport, ease road congestion and improve air quality ahead of the Olympics.

Also on Sunday, a new subway pricing system was adopted, cutting subway fares by about 30 percent. Now a one-way ticket costs just two yuan (27 U.S. cents), nearly the price of a bottle of purified water, no matter how long one travels and how many times one transfers between lines.

"The urban public transport should be given priority...and the related services should be improved consistently," Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan told the opening ceremony.

Local people lined up in front of the ticket offices of the new subway line on Sunday morning to enjoy the new service first or just to buy a commemorative ticket.

"I used to spend more than an hour and change subway lines twice for work, but now I can save 20 minutes and only need to change once with the opening of the new line," said Wang Jing, a local resident.

"Besides, I can save one yuan each time," she said.

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