Xiamen makes tracks for top-tier city status with three new subway routes
New rail links expected to improve inner-city business and encourage the real-estate markets of its outlying areas
When the Xiamen Metro officially debuts this September, the subway system will mark another step forward in the city’s relentless march to top-tier status. Initially approved in 2012, work by the Xiamen Urban Rail Transit Group is under way on three subway routes, with Line One slated to begin carrying passengers in September.
The first phase of the 50 billion yuan (HK$57 billion) subway system encompasses three lines and more than 60 stops spread along 79km of track.
The 24-stop Line One runs from the ferry terminal on the island of Xiamen up the city’s spine and continues to the city’s new Xiamen North Railway Station in the mainland district of Jimei.
When Line Two opens, two years later, it will run from the city’s international airport down to the convention centre area and then trundle to points west before crossing over to the city’s Haicang district. China’s National Development and Reform Commission has approved funding for an additional three lines and 139 stations by 2020.
As for the trains themselves, six cars spanning the length of a football field will ferry more than 2,000 passengers per train at speeds of up to 80km/h.
While subway systems make their name underground, local transit officials took care to give local touches to the Metro’s surface-level entrances. Street-level entryways are topped with red brick-like roofs that echo the traditional red-tiled style in local architecture.
The Metro is expected to be a boon for younger residents looking to start a family and purchase housing in the city. “Apartment prices on the island are high. The subway makes it easier to live off the island in the city’s surrounding mainland districts like Haicang, where home prices are lower,” says Michelle Hu, who has resided in the city centre for a decade.
Business sentiment for the new subway has been mixed but generally upbeat. Because the subway lines run underneath high-traffic streets that bedevil commuters, the long-term relief of the subway came at the cost of major construction along some of the city’s key arteries. Persistent lane closures and reduced foot traffic depressed business volume along the subway’s routes during construction.
Commercial property rents have already jumped along the Zhongshan Road pedestrian area and around the SM Shopping Mall, both of which sit along Line One. Real estate representatives cite similar although smaller rent bumps in the areas adjoining the Wanda Mall and the Caitang Mall, which are on Line Two.