Beijing Subway

Beijing Subway

Infobox Public transit
name = Beijing Subway

imagesize = 250px
locale = Beijing
transit_type = rapid transit
began_operation = 1969
ended_operation =
system_length = km to mi|200|abbr=yes|precision=0
lines = 8
vehicles =
stations = 123 (stations connected with transfers counted separately)
ridership = avg. 3.4 million in May 2008
track_gauge = 1435 mm
reporting marks =
operator = Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corp., Ltd
owner =
The Beijing Subway (zh-stp|s=北京地铁|t=北京地鐵|p=Běijīng Dìtiě) is a rapid transit rail network that serves the urban and suburban districts of Beijing Municipality. With 8 lines, over 200 km of tracks and 123 stations [Stations connected with transfers are counted separately] currently in operation and ridership averaging 3.4 million per day, [(Chinese) ["六月底开始 北京乘地铁先过安检" ""] May 29, 2008] the Beijing Subway is the busiest in mainland China, and the second longest after the Shanghai Metro. Ridership set a daily record of 4.92 million on August 22, 2008. [ [ Beijing subway system busy during Olympics "Xinhua"] Aug. 27, 2008] The existing network cannot adequately meet the city's mass transit needs and is undergoing rapid expansion. Three new lines were opened on July 19,2008 ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games. Existing plans call for 19 lines and 561 km of tracks in operation by 2015. [ [ "Beijing to build world's longest metro" "People's Daily"] Nov. 10, 2006]


A flat fare of RMB(¥) 2.00 with unlimited transfers applies to all lines except the Airport Express, which costs ¥25.00. [ [ "Beijing airport express rail on trial run," "China Daily"] July 15, 2008] Children less than 1.2m in height ride for free when accompanied by a paying adult. [ [ "New AFC system to manage subway tickets in Beijing starting June 9," "Official Website of the Beijing Olympics"] June 6, 2008]

All lines now collect fares through automatic fare collection (AFC) machines that accept single-ride tickets and "Yikatong", an integrated circuit card (ICC card) that can store credit for multiple rides. Riders can purchase tickets and add credit to "Yikatong" at ticket counters and vending machines in every station. "Yikatong" is also accepted on many city buses.

The use of tickets hand checked by clerks was phased out on June 9, 2008. [ [ "Paper tickets fade out of Beijing subway" "Xinhua"] June 9, 2008] . Before the flat fare was introduced on October 7, 2007, fares ranged from ¥3 to ¥5, depending on the line and the number of transfers.

Hours of Operation

The subway is generally closed after midnight, unless a special occasion prompts extended operating hours. [The subway operated throughout the night from Aug. 8-9, 2008 to accommodate the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games, and is extending evening operations of all lines by one to three hours (to 1-2 a.m.) through the duration of the Games. [] ] The first trains depart terminals at around 5 a.m. and the last leaves at around 11 p.m. For precise hours and frequency of service, check the official schedule [] .


Beijing's subway lines generally follow the checkerboard layout of the city. Most lines run parallel or perpendicular to each other and intersect at right angles.
*Line 1 runs in a straight line from the Western Hills through Tiananmen Square in the city centre to the eastern suburbs at Sihui. It follows Chang'an Avenue and connects major commercial centres, Xidan, Wangfujing, Dongdan and the Beijing CBD.
*Line 2, a rectangular loop line, traces the Ming-era city wall that once surrounded the inner city. Line 2 stops at each of the wall's 12 gates (ending in "men"), now busy intersections, as well as the Beijing Railway Station.
*Line 5 runs in a straight north-south line just east of the city centre. It passes the Temple of the Earth, Lama Temple and the Temple of Heaven, and ends near Tiantongyuan.
*Line 10 forms an inverted "L"-shaped half-shell to the north and east of Line 2. In the north, it follows the Yuan-era city wall, passing south of the Olympic Green. At the Sanyuanqiao stop northeast of the city, Line 10 turns straight south and follows the eastern 3rd Ring Road through the embassy district and Beijing CBD.
* Olympic Branch Line (Line 8 Phase I) extends straight north off Line 10 with three stops in the Olympic Green.
*Line 13 arcs across suburbs north of the city and channels commuters to Xizhimen and Dongzhimen, at the northwest and northeast corners of Line 2.
*Line Batong runs from Line 1's eastern terminus at Sihui East to even more distant suburbs in Tongzhou District.
* The Airport Line connects the Beijing Capital International Airport, 27 km northeast of the city, with Line 10 at Sanyuanqiao and Lines 2 and 13 at Dongzhimen.

Lines currently under construction will significantly expand the subway's coverage, especially south and west of the city. Running parallel to Line 5 but further west will be Line 4 and Line 9. Flanking either side of Line 1 will be Line 6 and Line 7. Line 10, when fully completed, will form a complete loop around Line 2. Line 8 will extend the Olympic Branch Line north to Line 13 and south to Line 2. Line 14 will run from the southwest to the northeast. The Daxing, Yizhuang and Fangshan will connect outlying districts to the Beijing Subway.

Lines in Operation

Three new lines, Line 10 (Phase I), the Olympic Branch Line (Phase I of Line 8) and the Airport Line were opened on July 19, 2008 ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in August. [The Olympic Branch Line was originally only accessible to riders with an Olympic Register Card or a ticket to an event at the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games on the day of the event.]

Lines identified in future subway plans

The following lines have been identified in future expansion plans for the Beijing Subway. The plans are tentative. None of these lines have been funded or are scheduled to be built by 2015.

Beijing Suburban Railway

The Beijing Suburban Railway is designed to complement the subway and provides frequent train service to outlying suburban districts and counties. Six "S"-numbered lines have been planned. [(Chinese) [ 本市规划建设6条市郊铁路 满足郊区市民出行 "千龙网"] July 22, 2008] They will generally make use of existing railways, and will operate under separate management and fare structure. The S2 Line, opened August 6, 2008, runs from the Beijing North Railway Station at Xizhimen to Yanqing County, and provides direct urban rail access to the Great Wall at Badaling. [(Chinese) [ 本市首条市郊铁路8月初通车 记者体验“动车”S2线 "千龙网"] July 22, 2008] The S1 Line will channel riders from Mentougou District west of the city to Pingguoyuan and Wulu, the western terminus of Line 1 and Line 6. [ [ 北京北站至延庆S2线时刻初步确定 首车6:08发出] ]


1965-1981: The Slow Beginning

The Beijing Subway was the first to be built in mainland China. It was originally planned during the early 1960s when tensions with the Soviet Union prompted Chinese leaders to create an underground conduit to move personnel and troops quickly from the heart of the capital to the Western Hills. Chairman Mao approved the project on February 4, 1965, telling engineers to design and build with care and to be prepared to make adjustments as there was “bound to be plenty of mistakes and setbacks [(Chinese) [ "地铁公司1965 -- 1970年" "地铁大事记"] 1] Construction began on July 1, 1965 at a ceremony attended by national leaders including Zhu De, Deng Xiaoping, and mayor Peng Zhen. ["Id." 2] The initial line was completed by National Day, October 1, 1969. It ran 21 km from the army barracks in the Western Hills to the Beijing Railway Station with 16 stations. This line forms the basis for parts of present-day Lines 1 and 2. On November 11, 1969, an electrical fire caused killed 3 people, injured over 100 and destroyed two cars. ["Id." 4] Premier Zhou Enlai placed the subway under the control of the People’s Liberation Army in 1970, but technical problems continued to plague the project. ["Id." 6-8]

On January 15, 1971, the initial line began operation on a trial basis between the Beijing Railway Station and Gongzhufen. [(Chinese) [ "地铁公司1971 -- 1980年" "地铁大事记"] 1] Single ride fare was set at ¥0.10 and only members of the public with credential letters from their work units were permitted entry into the subway. The line delivered 8.28 million rides in 1971 but remained under trial operation throughout the Cultural Revolution. The subway was shut down for nearly a year from August 12, 1973 to June 30, 1974 and again for a month in January 1975 due to defense mobilization. ["Id." 17, 23-24] It was closed from September 13 to November 6, 1971 in the aftermath of the Lin Biao Incident and on September 18, 1976 for the death of Chairman Mao. Despite its return to civilian control in 1976, the subway remained prone to closures due to fires, flooding, and accidents.

1981-2000: Two Decades of the Two-Line Subway

On September 15, 1981, after a decade of trial operation, the initial line was finally opened to full public use. [(Chinese) [ "地铁公司1981 -- 1990年" "地铁大事记"] 2] It had 19 stations and ran 27.6 km from Fushouling in the Western Hills to the Beijing Railway Station. Investment in the project totaled ¥706 million. The subway was placed under the management of the Beijing Subway Company, then a subsidiary of the Beijing Public Transportation Company. Annual ridership reached 72.5 million in 1982. On September 20, 1984, a second line was opened to the public. This horseshoe-shaped line was created from the eastern half of the initial line and corresponds to the southern half of the present-day Line 2. It ran 16.1 km from Fuxingmen to Jianguomen with 16 stations. Ridership reached 1.05 million in 1985. On December 28, 1987, the two existing lines were reconfigured into Lines 1, which ran from Pingguoyuan to Fuxingmen and Line 2, in its current loop, tracing the Ming city wall. Fares doubled to ¥0.20 for single-line rides and ¥0.30 for rides with transfers. Ridership reached 307 million in 1988. The subway was closed from June 3 to June 4, 1989 during the suppression of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. In 1990, the subway carried more than one million riders per day for the first time, as total ridership reached 381 million. After a fare hike to ¥0.50 in 1991, annual ridership declined slightly to 371 million.

On January 26, 1991, planning began on the eastward extension of Line 1 under Chang’an Avenue from Fuxingmen with the receipt of 19.2 billion yen low-interest, development assistance loan from Japan. [(Chinese) [ "地铁公司1991 -- 2000年" "地铁大事记"] 2] Construction began on the eastern extension on June 24, 1992. The Xidan station opened on December 12, 1992, and the remaining extension to Sihuidong was completed on September 28, 1999. ["Id." 16 & 99] National leaders Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Yu Zhengsheng and mayor Liu Qi were on hand to mark the occasion. ["Id." 100] The full-length of Line 1 became operational on June 26, 2000. ["Id." 113]

Despite little track expansion in the early 1990s, ridership grew rapidly to reach an all-time high of 558 million in 1995, but fell to 444 million the next year when fares rose from ¥0.50 to ¥2.00. After fares rose again to ¥3.00 in 2000, annual ridership fell to 434 million from 481 million in 1999.

2001-Present: Rapid Expansion

In the summer of 2001, the city won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and accelerated plans to expand the subway. From 2002 and 2008, the city planned to invest RMB63.8 billion (US$7.69 billion) in subway projects. Most new subway construction projects were funded by loans from the Big Four state banks. Line 4 is funded through a joint-venture with the Hong Kong MTR. [ [ H.K. subway operator seeks Beijing projects - International Herald Tribune ] ] .

The next additions to the subway were surface commuter lines that linked to the north and east of the city. Line 13, a half loop that links the northern suburbs, first opened on the western half from Huilongguan to Xizhimen on September 28, 2002 and the entire line became operational on January 28, 2003. [ [ "地铁公司2001 -- 2004年" "地铁大事记"] ] . Batong Line, built as an extension to Line 1 to Tongzhou district, was opened as a separate line on December 27, 2003. ["Id."] Work on these two lines had begun respectively in December of 1999 and 2000. [(Chinese) [ "地铁公司1991 -- 2000年" "地铁大事记"] 103 & 122] Ridership hit 607 million in 2004.

Line 5 came into operation on October 7, 2007. Construction had begun seven years earlier on September 25, 2000. [(Chinese) [ "地铁公司1991 -- 2000年" "地铁大事记"] 118] It is the city's first north-south line, extending from the Songjiazhuang in the south to Tiantongyuan in the north.

The use of paper tickets, hand checked by clerks for 38 years, was discontinued on June 9, 2008, and replaced by electronic tickets that are scanned by automatic fare collection machines. Electronic tickets are sold on touch-screen vending machines on which riders purchase single-ride tickets or add credit to "Yikatong" frequent use cards. Electronic tickets and "Yikatong" are scanned upon both entry and exit of the subway.

On July 19, 2008, Line 10, the Olympic Branch Line, and the Airport Line were open for trial basis ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in August. [ [ "Beijing opens three new subways ahead of Olympics" "China Daily"] July 19, 2008]

ystem Upgrades

Increasing Capacity

With new lines drawing more riders to the network and the fare reduction making the subway more affordable, the subway has begun to experience severe overcrowding, especially during the rush hour. Operators have often been forced to skip transit stops to avoid delay-induced overcrowding on one line from spilling over to other lines. Subway management has responded by upgrading signal equipment to increase the frequency of train service and adding to the capacity of subway trains. The minimum wait-time has been reduced to 2.5 min. for Lines 1 & 2; 3 min. for Lines 5, 13 & Batong; 3.5 min. for Line 10 and 15 min. for the Airport Line. [(Chinese) [ 三条新线将开 北京地铁奥运最高日客流将达587万 "Xinhuanet"] July 17, 2008] Lines 13 and Batong have converted 4-car to 6-car trains. [(Chinese) [ 13号线加挂两节车厢 "Beijing Youth Daily"] July 21, 2008] [(Chinese) [ 北京地铁2号线全部更换空调车 "新京报] Aug. 8, 2008]

Cellular Network Coverage

Mobile phones can currently be used on Line 5, Line 10 and both surface lines (13 and Batong), as well as in the stations of Lines 1 and 2. There are plans for all lines and stations to have cellular coverage. [ [ Mobile network to be accessible in Beijing subway ] ]

Access for the Physically Disabled

Each of the subway's 123 stations is equipped with ramps, lifts, or elevators to facilitate wheelchair access. [ [ Beijing promises integrated subway service for disabled "xinhua"] Aug. 27, 2008] [All stations on Line 5 have elevators. Some of the older stations on Lines 1 and 2 have escalators that descend from the station entrances to the ticket counters one level below ground level but do not extend to the platform two levels below. In the summer of 2008, mechanical wheelchair lifts were installed next to staircases in these stations. [ "北京地铁安装轮椅升降平台(组图)","Xinhua"] June 20, 2008.] Newer model train cars now provide space to accommodate wheelchairs. [ [ "New Beijing Subway Line 5 is passenger-friendly", "Beijing2008"] Sept. 30, 2007] Line 2, 5, 13 and Batong stations have automated audio announcements for incoming trains. Inside trains on all lines, audio stations announcements are made in Mandarin Chinese and English.

Automatic Fare Collection System

Each station has between two and fifteen ticket vending machines. [ [ CityWeekend: The Official Beijingology Subway AFC Cheat Sheet (Part 3)] /] Ticket vending machines in Line 5, 8, 10 stations and several of the Line 1 and 2 stations can also add credit to Yikatong cards.System Suppliers:


Emergency Planning

After witnessing several serious subway accidents in the Republic of Korea (e.g. Daegu subway fire in February 2003), the Beijing Subway removed all shops and vendors from the inside of subway stations and installed self-illuminating exit signs to facilitate emergency evacuations. The popular underground mall at the Xidan station was also closed.

ecurity Checks During the Olympics

To ensure public safety during the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Beijing Subway initiated a three-month heightened security program on June 29, 2008. During this period, riders will be subject to searches of their persons and belongings at all stations. Security inspectors with metal detectors, X-Ray machines and sniffer dogs will search and confiscate articles banned from public transportation including "guns, ammunition, knives, explosives, flammable and radioactive materials, and toxic chemicals." [ [ "Beijing starts passenger security checks in all subway stations",""] June 29, 2008] Riders with liquids must be prepared to drink from their containers in front of inspectors. Those who refuse to comply with the required searches will be denied entry into the subway. The security checks are expected to generate delays in entering the subway until the program's completion on September 20, 2008.


On March 29, 2007, a construction site at the Suzhoujie station on Line 10 collapsed, burying six workers. []


ee also

* List of Beijing Subway stations
* List of rapid transit systems

External links

* [ Official Beijing Subway Website]
* [ Beijing Subway Information on]
* [ Subway Transfer Information on Enjoysubway]
* [ The Beijing Guide]
* [ Beijing Subway by Tom Carter] Newspaper photo essay about the Beijing subway
* [ Beijing Subway] at
* [ Beijing Subway Fan Site] (in Japanese only)

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