$3b subway to link city with boom town
Beijing has broken ground on a 19km subway line that will link the downtown area to an eastern suburb known for its recent real estate boom.
The Beijing Morning Post reported yesterday that the 3.4 billion yuan (HK$3.1 billion) subway, launched on Sunday, would add 13 stations to an existing east-west subway line and the last stop will be the 600,000-population suburb of Tongzhou. Nine of the new stations would be above ground, unlike most of the network's stations.
Residents of Tongzhou and other parts of east Beijing now pack one of three city bus lines or take a faster but more cramped minibus to an existing subway station. Because of the relatively cheap land, many young Beijing couples have bought homes in Tongzhou during the past year and now commute, turning the suburb into a real estate boom town.
'Of course this line will be advantageous,' said a representative of Wuyi Gardens, a Tongzhou-area housing development. 'It will be a lot more convenient for us.'
To ease traffic jams and prepare for the 2008 Olympics, the city plans to build five new subway lines, totalling 85km. One route will connect the downtown area to the airport and another to the future Olympic Village. A 27.7km line from the northern to the southern suburbs is also under construction.
The two existing lines cover 54km and serve about one million people a day. The People's Daily said half of Beijing's commuters would take the subway once the system was finished.
The Tongzhou line should be complete by the end of next year, the Beijing Morning Post said.