Beijing's metro system will
stretch to 561 kilometers by 2020, supplanting London's Underground
as the longest subway system in the world, according to a recently
completed construction plan.
According to the plan, the 561 kilometers will be laid
out along 19 lines winding together beneath the capital.
Unlike metro line 2, which encircles the Tian'anmen
Square area, the new lines are expected to reach all the major
corners of the capital.
Fifteen of the new lines will support urban areas,
while the remaining four will stretch out to the suburbs, according
to the plan drafted by the city's communications
Zhao Hui, a researcher who helped draft the plan, said
it represented a long-term vision and could be subject to change.
The city's Development and Reform Commission still has to approve
the plan, he noted.
Lines 4, 5 and 10 are currently under construction and
are expected to be operational for the 2008 Olympic
Line 4 will connect Fengtai in the extreme south with
Haidian in the northwest, spanning 28.16 kilometers. This line will
represent the first direct link between Beijing's two
Line 5 will serve a similar function, creating a
short-cut route between the "developed" north and "developing"
south, from Changping to Fengtai districts.
Line 10, will proscribe an arc whose tips will be
Haidian and Chaoyang districts. This line will link up the
northwestern and eastern-southeastern sections of the city. A
5.91-kilometre section of Line 10 will directly ease travel for the
2008 Olympic Games.
Zhao said Line 11 would be finished in 2012 and link
up with Line 10. The new loop line created by the two linked lines
will thread through major city centers including Zhongguancun
technology zone, the CBD and the Olympic zone.
Currently four metro lines serve Beijing. Lines 1 and
2 span 54 kilometers, while Line 13 and Line Batong cover 61
kilometers, servicing 1.5 million commuters daily.
Beyond building new subway lines, transportation
experts have been exploring other possibilities for the city's
underground space to help ease the traffic pressure.
During a conference on the weekend entitled the "International Academic
Conference on Underground Space," the Beijing Urban Planning
Commission and the Beijing Urban Planning and Designing Research
Institute jointly released a new plan proposing the construction of
six underground expressways by 2020 to further ease traffic
congestion, mainly within the second and third rings.
Shi Xiaodong, a senior planner, said that moving more
transportation underground will help eliminate noise pollution and
reduce traffic in the old urban area.
However, Duan Liren, an expert with the Beijing
Transportation Management Engineering Institute, urged for caution
from the officials involved about developing the underground
"Such a large-scale underground expressway system
would be unprecedented in the world, and we have little experience
to draw upon. The technological difficulties and construction costs
of this system will exceed those of the metro system," Duan was
quoted by the Beijing
News as saying.
(China Daily November 20,