New subways for Beijing

Xizhemen subway station
Xizhemen subway station.

At the moment Beijing only as three subway lines. For a city with a population of at least 15 million this seems to be too few, especially for a city that will be host of the Olympic games next year.
Actually there are only two real “sub”ways as the latest line is not in underground. When it was announced to build the line, the renting price for an apartment along the track went up from 2000 to 3000 yuan within a week. From the economist’s perspective this underlines what an advanced the price mechanism of the market economy already exists in China.

So far I’ve used the subway only twice since I only need to take it when I need to travel a larger distance than I can go by bike. Besides the last train is at around 11 p.m. so it’s not useful to get home at night. The subway lines are run by private companies and it’s obviously not profitable to have service at night.
Unfortunately the lines are operated by two different companies, if one wants to change into to outer line, you need to exit the station and walk a few hundred meters to get your connection. Sometimes this simply takes too much time…

For the games 2008 it is planned to extend the subway net by several lines, e.g. to have a direct connection to the airport. There is also construction going on not far away from Beijing University. Last week one of the newly built tunnels collapsed and buried six workers. This shows the poor conditions under which people from the countryside are working under. The safety is obviously not the highest priority, also the trapped workers could only call the police and report the accident because one of them did not give his cell phone to the lead worker, as he was told to by the company.

In our newspaper class we looked at an article telling the story and giving some background information. If you first come to Beijing the conditions of the rural workers is not very obvious, but the death of the six workers shows that China’s construction boom heavily relies on these workers.
One last question remains: If the subway is not safe during it’s construction, will it be safe during the Olympics?

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3 Responses to “New subways for Beijing”

  1. Preparations for 08/08/08 « Beijing 2007 Says:

    […] the largest construction goes by mostly unseen: Beijing’s subway net will be drastically expanded by next year: From next year on, it is planned to open a new subway line each month! But at the […]

  2. Chinese City Without Bicyles? Two Days in Chongqing « Beijing 2007 Says:

    […] hill between the junction of Yangtze river and Jialing river does not suffer from a bad congestion as Beijing does. The streets are simply too steep to go there by bike and some of the old ways are just […]

  3. Back to Beijing « Beijing 2007 Says:

    […] and the changes made to some buildings were significant and the Beixinqiao subway for one of the new subway lines seems to be ready for the opening of the number 5 subway line. At the subway and bus stations we […]

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