CHINA> Regional
Forum wants new Beijing airport rail fare to be 25 yuan
By Xin Dingding/Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-07-03 07:27

The majority of participants in a public hearing on Wednesday agreed on the price of a ticket for the new Beijing airport rail - 25 yuan ($3.65).

The hearing was made up of 25 academics, consumers and transport operators, as well as 10 observers.

A train takes a dry run along the new express rail between Dongzhimen and Capital International Airport in Beijing on June 16. A public hearing was held yesterday to discuss the fare of a ride. [CFP] 

The operator of the new line, the Beijing Dongzhimen-Airport Express Rail, had proposed two fares: 25 yuan and 30 yuan.

The municipal reform and development commission - which decides the prices of public utilities including electricity, mobile phone services and bus fares, subject to public hearings - organized the forum on the fare of the new rail and invited the representatives of the different interest groups for their views.

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Most of the representatives in yesterday's hearing opted for the lower fare, a price higher than the average cost of taking an airport shuttle bus, at 16 yuan, but lower than a standard taxi fare for the trip.

The municipal development and reform commission did not announce the final decision on the fare for the airport express rail, expected to open in the first half of this month.

Despite the majority opinion, a number of delegates argued that the fare for the new rail should be lower still, in order to attract more commuters and ease traffic congestion on the roads.

A participant was quoted by Beijing Evening News as saying that compared with shuttle buses, which provide six routes connecting downtown Beijing, the airport rail has only one route.

While it is linked to metro line 2 at Dongzhimen and metro line 10 at Sanyuanqiao, passengers cannot get on the rail as conveniently as the bus.

Another forum participant, Li Kaijie, from a publishing house, said that other inconveniences of the new rail include passengers having to carry heavy luggage up and down the stairs during their transfer between the lines.

But Liu Yong, with Beijing general municipal engineering design & research institute, said the price could be raised in the future, because it saves time for passengers.

The 28.5-km light rail system will connect downtown Beijing with Capital International Airport and the ride is expected to take 16 minutes.

The new line can save passengers more than 50 minutes during rush hour, the chairman of the express rail company, Gao Peng, said.

Other forum participants suggested that the price should be adjusted later, based on the audit department's calculation of operational costs.

Lu Yingchuan, the municipal reform and development commission's deputy director, reiterated that hearings such as those used for considering the fare of the new rail will be held in instances where public interests are concerned.

The airport express rail stops at two downtown subway stations, Dongzhimen and Sanyuanqiao, and airport terminals 3 and 2.

The trains leave about every 10 minutes, and run at a speed of 110 km per hour, the project's planners have said.

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