Hopes for traffic cut ride on subway's new line
Beijing will open a new urban railway line next weekend, easing traffic congestion in the northern part of the capital.
The area has many new housing developments and will host most of the events during the 2008 Olympic Games.
The 34km-line, which will open next Saturday, will take passengers from the Xizhimen subway station in northwest Beijing to Shangdi in the north, a suburb that includes the Legend Computer headquarters, then swing east within a few kilometres of the Beijing Capital Airport. The line then runs south back to an existing subway station at Dongzhimen.
Although Beijing has only two subway lines to date, the route is called the No 13 Line.
Beijing urban railway officials confirmed the opening next weekend but declined to discuss details yesterday, leaving questions about ticket prices, station design and passenger volume.
The China Youth Daily on Thursday announced the opening date in the middle of a longer transport article and said the line would 'greatly ease the city of Beijing's traffic congestion situation'.
Beijing residents said they had seen related news on local TV, and maps in subway stations show the new route.
Residents yesterday said they welcomed the news, saying it would speed up travel from northern districts to central Beijing and reduce road traffic.
Two commuters outside the Yong'anli subway station, in the city centre, said they looked forward to doing away with the half-hour bus rides to their homes in northern Beijing.
Shanghai native Janie Zhang said she supported the new rail line even though she has a car, which she bought because she regards Beijing's subway as dirty.
If the new Beijing line were as 'clean and colourful' as the Shanghai subway, she said, she would use it to avoid traffic.
'In Shanghai, the elevated railway has helped to ease traffic a lot,' said Ms Zhang, as she waited out the rush hour in central Beijing yesterday before getting into her car. 'I never had to use a car there.'
North Beijing has been a hot spot for new housing, and the city will build its Olympic Village there before 2008.
City officials and the International Olympic Committee have agreed the city needs better transport before the Games.
Beijing is also building subway lines to an area near the future Olympic Village, to the eastern suburb of Tongzhou, which is also in the midst of housing boom.
The city planned to build a subway line to southern Beijing, said Zhang Dongcao, a reporter with the China Youth Daily.
'Now Beijing's subway is outdated, but by 2008 it will have surpassed Shanghai's,' Zhang said.