Guangzhou gets subway go-ahead

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2005, 12:00am

Beijing approves building of 127km of track over five years

Guangzhou has secured central government approval to build an extensive subway network over the next five years, expanding the service's two existing lines to at least seven, according to local media reports.

Party paper Nanfang Daily reported yesterday that the National Development and Reform Commission had approved Guangzhou's plans to lay 127km of subway track. But the Metro Corporation and government agencies yesterday declined to comment on, or confirm, the report.

Guangzhou started laying the groundwork for its subway system in 1993 and took 12 years to build 36.6km of track. The additions would require an average of 25km of subterranean line to be rolled out each year, a target that academics say can be achieved.

The new lines would link central Guangzhou with the city's suburbs, which now take more than an hour to reach by bus, and would also connect with other transport hubs and sports facilities.

Under the plan, Guangzhou will extend the No 2 subway line from Sanyuanli to Jiahe and from Jiangnanxi to a new main train station in Xinkezhan. The No 3 line will be extended from Guangzhou East Railway Station to the New Baiyun Airport.

A No 4 line will run from the Olympic Sports Centre to Xinzhao and the fifth line will connect Jiaokou to Wenchong.

Also to be completed by 2010 are new lines linking Xunfengxu and Yantang and Xiaogang and Fenghuangxincun.

Work is expected to start at the end of this year on a line from Guangzhou to Foshan .

Guangzhou's subway construction plans have become a sensitive issue in the city because of the huge government investment involved, the rapid speed of projected construction and claims surrounding the indebtedness of the subway operator.

Work started on a test section of Guangzhou's fifth subway line in June last year, but local media outlets were told not to report the news.

Local media reported the Guangzhou Metro Corporation had debts of 760 million yuan last year, but the corporation rejected the claims, saying it had balanced revenue and expenditure in 2002.

The corporation also said that its debt ratio had decreased from 77 per cent in 1999 to 35 per cent in 2003.

Some analysts have warned that the extent of the corporation's planned investment over such a short time span may prove too great a burden for the corporation and local government to bear.

Jin Wenzhou , a traffic design specialist from the South China University of Technology, said the projected speed of the subway construction project was acceptable and could be faster.

But he did not give further explanation, saying the subway project was a huge topic and could not be explained in a few words.