The economic boom in Shanghai had unleashed such a traffic surge in late 1980s that the traditional transportation system was facing meltdown. The city’s authorities borrowed the experience from the Western countries and decided to deploy a subway network that includes 11 lines covering over 325km under a 40-year phased program.
After six years of preparation and construction, Line 1 opened in April 1995, connecting the northern and southern districts of the city. Inaugurated on 13 June 2000, Line 2 runs from Zhongshan Park to Zhangjiang High-tech Park, passing under a number of residential areas, public parks and the Huangpu River. Opening for revenue service in 2001, Line 3, known as the Pearl Line, also has the main station as its focal point, but loops northwards on elevation from Shanghai South Station to Zhongshan Park and terminates at Jiangwan Town. The west extension of Line 2 to Hongqiao Airport is scheduled to open in 2007 after construction started in late 2001 (possibly due to lack of capital). Later Line 2 will be extended towards the east to World Exposition site and towards the west to Qingpu and Luchaogang to form the 116 km long regional express line R2.
No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 Metro lines handled an average load of 1.7 million passengers daily, an increase of 31 percent year-on-year. The opening of a major part of Line 4 to the public by the end of the year will extend the city’s total subway length to 112 kilometers from 95 km at present.
More new lines are projected. Among the future lines, there is one going through the Northern Bund area and taking us to the underground transportation network.
Shanghai Metro helps commuters to avoid traffic jams and save time by cutting cross-city travel times in some cases from over an hour to a few minutes.
However, Shanghai Metro has its growing pains. Sometimes at some stations, people are counted to make sure that not too many people enter the station at one time. If too many people are in the station, it will be closed for a couple of minutes. That causes unpredictable subway transportation. When the stations closes for 10 minutes there will be a huge crowd that will fight to get in, so the station will be closed again!
As more Metro suicides were reported, a team of security guards patrol Shanghai’s metro system. One of their major tasks is to cut the rising number of suicides. They will try to stop any attempt to jump on the tracks and if one happens, the guards will be able to give appropriate first-aid assistance. The guards have undergone public security and fire control training. Their tasks are in a range much wider than that for those previously employed, who were only responsible for maintaining public order. There are female guards as well to deal with particular problems of women passengers.
Another move to curb the disturbing trend of Metro suicides is to install security doors on the edge of the platform at all the stations to block any approach to the railway track, thus making it impossible to jump on the tracks. The screens can separate the platform from the tunnel, creating a closed environment. Besides keeping people off the tracks, the screens also prevent dust from being blown up onto the platform by arriving trains and prevent cool or hot air from leaving the station, reducing electricity use. An outdoor gate used in underground stations costs 6 million yuan!