Guangzhou Metro

Guangzhou Metro (simplified Chinese: 广州地铁; traditional Chinese: 廣州地鐵; pinyin: Guǎngzhōu Dìtiě; Jyutping: Gwong²zau¹ Dei⁶tit³) is the metro system of the city of Guangzhou in GuangdongProvince of China. It is operated by the state-owned Guangzhou Metro Corporation and was the fourth metro system to be built in mainland China, after those of Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai.

The earliest efforts to build an underground rapid transit system in Guangzhou date back to 1960. In the two decades that followed, the project was brought into the agenda five times, but ended up abandoned each time due to financial and technical difficulties. Preparation of what would lead to today’s Guangzhou Metro did not start until the 1980s, and it was not until 1993 that construction of the first line, Line 1, officially began. Line 1 opened four years later in 1997 with five stations in operation.

As of December 2013, Guangzhou Metro has nine lines in operation, namely Line 1, Line 2, Line 3, Line 4, Line 5, Line 6, Line 8, Guangfo Line, and Zhujiang New Town APM. A major portion of the metro system services the urban areas of the city, while Lines 2, 3 and 4 also reach into the suburban areas in Huadu, Baiyun District, Panyu and Nansha; Guangfo Line connects Guangzhou and Foshan and is the first intercity underground metro line in the country. Daily service hours start at 6:00 am and end at midnight, and ridership averages 5.63 million. Having delivered 2.054 billion rides in 2013, Guangzhou Metro is the sixth busiest metro system in the world, after the metro systems of Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow, Beijing, and Shanghai. Guangzhou Metro operates 164 stations, including 21 interchange stations, and 260.5 km of tracks.

Extensive development of the metro network has been planned for the decade of 2011–2020. Three new lines, Line 7, Line 9 and Line 13, and extensions of Line 6, Line 8 and Guangfo Line are already under construction and expected to be completed between 2015 and 2017. Total operational capacity is scheduled to exceed 600 km by 2020.


Forays of the 1960s and 1970s

Chen Yu (Chinese: 陈郁), Governor of Guangdong in 1957–1967, was the first to have proposed an underground metro system for Guangzhou. In the summer of 1960, he ordered a secret geological survey of groundwater levels of Guangzhou. Six holes with an accumulated depth of 1980 m were drilled in the plateaus and alluvial plains in the city. The geological conditions of Guangzhou, despite their complexity, did not preclude the possibility of an underground metro system. Analysis of the survey data resulted in a confidential report titled Geological Survey for Guangzhou Underground Railway Project dated July 1961, the earliest one of such reports.

In 1965, Chen Yu along with Tao Zhu (Chinese: 陶铸), who had been the Governor of Guangdong and First Secretary of Guangdong Committee of the Communist Party of China, proposed in the wake of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that a tunnel be built in Guangzhou for wartime evacuations and post-war metro development. Approved by the central government, the project started in the spring of 1965. Due to its confidentiality in the context of intensification of the Vietnam War, the project adopted the obscure name of “Project Nine” (Chinese: 九号工程), where “Nine” was the number of strokes in “地下“, the Chinese word for “underground”.

As envisaged by Chen Yu, the metro system of Guangzhou would consist of two lines: a north-south line that would connect Nanfang Building to Sanyuanli via Renmin Lu and Jiefang Beilu, and an east-west line that would run from Xichang to Dongshan along today’s Dongfeng Lu. The two lines roughly parallelled Line 2 and Line 1 of the modern days, respectively. The east-west line was never built, while Project Nine was dedicated to the north-south line. Over ten teams of miners were recruited for a project filled with hazards and perils. Constrained by extreme scarcity of time, monetary and material resources, the ambition to build a tunnel for metro operation was scaled back—capability to run trolleybuses was deemed acceptable. At a cost of ¥13 million, an 8 km long tunnel was completed in 1966. The tunnel was ready for use as an air-raid shelter; however, with a cross-section merely 3 m wide and 2.85 m tall, and exposed rocks and wooden trestles scattered everywhere, it was totally unusable for public transit. In the two decades that followed, four attempts were made to revive and expand Project Nine, first in 1970, next in 1971, then in 1974, and last in 1979. None of these efforts eventually materialized.

Construction of Line 1

The metro project of Guangzhou was launched for the sixth time in 1984 as the Preparation Office of Guangzhou Metro, established back in 1979 as part of the last attempt to resurrect Project Nine, was moved out of the civil air defence system and became a subordinate body of the Construction Commission of Guangzhou, bringing Guangzhou Metro into the scope of urban infrastructure development. Prior to the 1980s, war preparedness was the dominant tenet of underground infrastructure projects in mainland China. The construction of Guangzhou Metro marked the first deviation from the old doctrine as traffic itself became the prime consideration of the project.

Design of the metro network was a collaborative effort between China and France. Four tentative designs were published on 14 March 1988 edition of Guangzhou Daily. From the four designs, one was selected based on expert and mass feedbacks. The selected design, featuring two intersecting lines, provided an embryonic form of the eventual layout of Line 1 and Line 2.

Construction of Line 1 officially commenced on 28 December 1993, although work on a trial section at Huangsha had begun in October 1992, five months before the feasibility study of the line was ratified by the State Planning Commission in March 1993. Various technologies novel to China’s construction industry at the time were adopted in different sections of the project, notably including immersed tubes (Pearl River Tunnel) and tunnel boring machines (Huangsha–Martyrs’ Park section). As the most massive urban infrastructure project in history of Guangzhou, Line 1 required a funding of ¥12.75 billion, all of which was raised by the local government. Use of cut-and-cover tunnels aggressively backed by then-mayor Li Ziliu necessitated relocation of approximately 100,000 residents in 20,000 households and demolition of buildings totalling 1.1 km2 in area and earned Li the nickname “Li the Demolisher” (Chinese: 黎拆屋).

Three and a half years after construction started, the 5.4 km section from Xilang to Huangsha opened for trial operation on 28 June 1997. The remaining 13 km, from Huangsha to Guangzhou East Railway Station, was completed eighteen months later on 28 December 1998. The entire line opened for sightseeing tours between 16 February and 2 March 1999, delivering 1.39 million rides during 15 days before closing for final testing. Operation of Line 1 officially began on 28 June 1999, 34 years after the start of Project Nine in 1965.

Accelerated expansion in the 2000s

guangzhou-metro-evolutionThe success of Line 1 as a turnkey project acquired from Siemens with 100% imported electromechanical equipment prompted a wave of similar proposals from twelve other cities in mainland China toward the end of the 1990s. The fever for import-centric rapid transit caused the State Planning Committee to temporarily halt approval of rapid transit projects nationwide and regulate the localisation rates of rolling stock suppliers. Amid tightened regulation, only Line 2 of Guangzhou Metro received the immediate green light to proceed in June 1998 on the condition that at least 60% of its electromechanical equipment must be sourced domestically.

Construction of Line 2 started in July 1998. Rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier airlifted the first two train cars in an An-124 from Berlin to Guangzhou in November 2002 after schedule delays. The first section, from Sanyuanli to Xiaogang, opened on 29 December 2002; the remaining section from Xiaogang to Pazhou opened on 28 June 2003. At ¥2.13 billion, the equipment cost of Line 2 was 53% lower than that of Line 1. This demonstrated the feasibility of cost reduction through procurement of domestic equipment, revealling a path to project approval to other Chinese cities and reigniting their aspirations to own rapid transit systems.

The renewed craze for rapid transit across the country soon encountered a new round of tightened control on project approval around 2003. But Guangzhou was exempted along with Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. By the time Line 2 was completed, construction of Line 3, Line 4 and Guangfo Line had been underway, among which only Guangfo Line later fell casualty to stringent regulation.

Lines in operation

Line 1

Line 1 runs from Xilang to Guangzhou East Railway Station, with a total length of 18.5 km. Except Kengkou and Xilang, all stations in Line 1 are underground. The line interchanges with Line 2 at Gongyuanqian, Line 3 at Tiyu Xilu and Guangzhou East Railway Station, Line 5 at Yangji, Line 6 at Dongshankou and Huangsha, and Guangfo Line at Xilang. Its first section, from Xilang to Huangsha, opened on 28 June 1997, making Guangzhou the fourth city in mainland China to have a metro system. The full line started operation two years later on 28 June 1999.

Line 2

Line 2 is a north-south line that runs from Jiahewanggang to Guangzhou South Railway Station. It interchanges with Line 1 at Gongyuanqian, Line 3 at Jianghewanggang, Line 5 at Guangzhou Railway Station, and Line 8 atChanggang. Until 21 September 2010, it ran from Sanyuanli to Wanshengwei. Its first section, between Sanyuanli and Xiaogang, opened on 29 December 2002. It was extended from Xiaogang to Pazhou on 28 June 2003 and further to Wanshengwei a year later. The section between Xiaogang and Wanshengwei was split off to form part of Line 8 during 22–24 September 2010, when operation was paused. The latest extension, from Jiangnanxi toGuangzhou South Railway Station and from Sanyuanli to Jiahewanggang, opened on 25 September 2010 as the whole line resumed operation. The length of the current line is 31.4 km. All stations in Line 2 are underground.

Line 3

Line 3 is a 67.3 km Y-shaped line connecting Airport South and Tianhe Coach Terminal to Panyu Square. All stations in the line are underground. When the line opened on 26 December 2005, trains operated between Guangzhou East Railway Station and Kecun. Following completion of the Tianhe Coach Terminal–Tiyu Xilu and Kecun–Panyu Square sections, the line was rerouted on 30 December 2006 to offer transfer-free connections between Panyu Square and Tianhe Coach Terminal via Tiyu Xilu. The Guangzhou East Railway Station–Tiyu Xilu section became a shuttle until it was extended northwards to Airport South on 30 October 2010. In official distinctions, the main route consists of the entire Tianhe Coach Terminal–Panyu Square section, while the Airport South–Tiyu Xilu section is a spur line. The spur line will be split off in the long term to form part of Line 10. The line interchanges with Line 1 at Tiyu Xilu and Guangzhou East Railway Station, Line 2 at Jiahewanggang, Line 5 at Zhujiang New Town, and Line 8 at Kecun. Line 3 had been notorious for its crowding since it opened, for it ran three-car trains. That was partly relieved when all three-car trains started operating as six-car ones, connected in sets of two, on 28 April 2010. All stations in Line 3 are underground.

Line 4

Line 4 is a north-south line running parallel to Line 2 along the east of the city. It is 43.7 km long with 16 stations. The section of the line from Huangcun to Xinzao are built at underground, while that from Xinzao to Jinzhou are built at elevated track. It was the first metro line in mainland China to use linear motor trains. The line interchanges with Line 5 at Chebeinan, and Line 8 at Wanshengwei. In the future, the line will interchange with Line 7 at Higher Education Mega Centre South, which is bound for Guangzhou South Railway Station. Its first section, from Wanshengwei to Xinzao, opened on 26 December 2005. Southwards, it was extended from Xinzao toHuangge on 30 December 2006 and further to Jinzhou on 28 June 2007. Northwards, it was extended to Chebeinan on 28 December 2009. Its latest extension, from Chebeinan to Huangcun, opened on 25 September 2010. A 12.6 km extension in Nansha District has been approved with six underground stations and will interchange with the planned Line 15.

Line 5

The 31.9 km long Line 5 starts at Jiaokou and runs to Wenchong. It entered operation on 28 December 2009. All stations in the line except Jiaokou and Tanwei are underground. Until Line 8 was split off from Line 2, it was the only line that interchanged with all other lines. Currently it interchanges with Line 1 at Yangji, Line 2 at Guangzhou Railway Station, Line 3 at Zhujiang New Town, Line 4 at Chebeinan, and Line 6 at Tanwei and Ouzhuang. Similarly to Line 4, Line 5 also uses linear motor trains.

Line 6

The first stage of Line 6, a 24.5 km long phase one runs from Xunfenggang to Changban with 22 stations. It began service on 28 December 2013 and contains three elevated stations along the route. Construction of a 10-station, 17.6 km long extension to Xiangxue from Changban is currently underway and is expected to enter revenue service in 2015. Interchange is provided with Line 1 Huangsha and Dongshankou, with Line 2 at Haizhu Square, with Line 3 at Yantang and Tianhe Coach Terminal, with Line 5 at Tanwei and Ouzhuang. Cultural Park will also become an interchange station when the north extension of Line 8 opens. The line runs four-car trains, but stations of the east extension starting with South China Botanical Garden will be constructed with a provision to accommodate six-car trains in preparation for a route split in the future.

Line 8

The first section of Line 8, from Xiaogang to Wanshengwei, opened in 2002 and ran as part of Line 2 until the extension to the line was completed in September 2010. Line 8 runs from Fenghuang Xincun to Wanshengwei. The section from Changgang to Wanshengwei opened on 25 September 2010 when the split-off from Line 2 was complete. The section west of Changgang did not open until 3 November 2010 due to disputes over the environmental impact of the cooling facilities at Shayuan. Interchange stations along the line are Changgang with Line 2, Kecun with Line 3, and Wanshengwei with Line 4. While currently the line is entirely contained inHaizhu District to the south of the Pearl River, the north extension presently under construction will cross the river northwards to interchange with Line 6 at Cultural Park and reach Baiyun Lake.

Guangfo Line

The Guangzhou–Foshan Section of Pearl River Delta Region Intercity Rapid Transit (Chinese: 珠江三角洲地区城际快速轨道交通广州至佛山段) is an intercity metro line that connects Guangzhou and Foshan. It is commonly known as Guangfo Metro and Guangfo Line of Guangzhou Metro. The section within Foshan also doubles as Line 1 of FMetro (Foshan Metro). The line is operated by Guangdong Guangfo Inter-City Co., Ltd., a subsidiary co-owned by Guangzhou Metro (51%) and Foshan Metro (49%). Its first section, from Xilang to Kuiqi Lu in Foshan, started operation on 3 November 2010 with 21 km of tracks and 14 stations. Eleven of the stations are located in Foshan, while the other three are in Guangzhou. Relocation disputes at Lijiao were not resolved until October 2013 and have delayed completion of the extension from Xilang to Lijiao till December 2015. When the line is completed, it will have 32.2 km of tracks and 21 stations, of which 17.4 km of tracks and 10 stations will be located in Guangzhou. The line will interchange with Line 1 at Xilang, Line 2 at Nanzhou, Line 3 at Lijiao, and Line 8 at Shayuan. It will run four-car trains. All its stations are underground.

Zhujiang New Town APM Line

The Automated People Mover System of Zhujiang New Town Core District Municipal Traffic Project (Chinese: 珠江新城核心区市政交通项目旅客自动输送系统) is an underground automated people mover that serves thecentral business district of Zhujiang New Town. It is commonly known as Zhujiang New Town Automated People Mover System or the APM for short. At a length of 3.9 km, it connects Linhexi and Canton Tower with nine stations on the line. Operation started on 8 November 2010 with Canton Tower Station named Chigang Pagoda Station until December 2013. The stations of Haixinsha and Chigang Pagoda remained closed during the 2010 Asian Games. Chigang Pagoda Station opened on 28 November 2010, one day after the Asian Games ended; Haixinsha Station remained unopened until 24 February 2011. There is no direct platform-to-platform connection between the APM and Line 3 albeit they share the stations of Linhexi and Canton Tower. Transfer passengers need to exit and reenter with a new ticket. The APM runs two-car rubber-wheeled driverless trains.

Future expansion

Line 7

The first phase of Line 7 is under construction and will run from Guangzhou South Railway Station to Higher Education Mega Center South in Panyu District over the course of 18.6 km when completed. Six-car trains will be used. All nine stations are underground. The line will interchange with Line 2 at Guangzhou South Railway Station and Shibi, Line 3 at Hanxi Changlong, and Line 4 at Higher Education Mega Center South. The planned second phase will extend the line by 11.3 km and four more stations to reach north of the Pearl River and provide interchanges with Line 5 at Dashadong, the planned east extension of Line 8 at Changzhou and Line 13 at Fengle Lu. Line 7 is expected to be operational from 2016.

Line 9

The 20.1 km long Line 9 serves Huadu District. It will start at Fei’eling and end at Gaozeng, where it will interchange with Line 3. All stations are underground. The line will run six-car trains. In the long term, after the Tianhe Coach Terminal–Tiyu Xilu spur line of Line 3 is split off to form part of Line 10, it will be connected into Line 3 using the reserved switches at Gaozeng and become a new spur line. Line 9 is expected to be operational from 2015.

Line 13

Currently under construction, Line 13 is the first metro line in Guangzhou to be built to run eight-car trains. The 27.03 km first phase from Yuzhu to Xiangjingling will connect Zengcheng into Guangzhou’s metro network. Upon opening, it will only interchange with Line 5 at Yuzhu, but future interchange stations have been planned at Xiayuan (east extension of Line 5), Fengle Lu (second phase of Line 7) and Xintang (Line 16 and Suiguanshen Intercity Railway). A second phase to the west is planned for the long term and will cut through the heartland of urban Guangzhou to reach Chaoyang in the vicinity of Guangzhou–Foshan border. Line 13 is expected to open in 2016.

Line 21

The 60.9 km long Line 21 connects Yuancun in Tianhe District and Zengcheng Square in Zengcheng with six-car trains. It has 38.5 km of underground tracks, 16.4 km of elevated tracks and 6 km of tracks in mountain tunnels. The section from Yuancun to Tianhe Park is intended as part of Line 11 and constructed to accommodate the eight-car trains of the latter. When construction of Line 1 completes, the section will be spliced into Line 11, making Tianhe Park the west end of Line 21. Interchange will be available at Yuancun (Line 5), Tianhe Park (Line 11 and second phase of Line 13), Huangcun (Line 4), Grand World Scenic Park (Line 19), Xiangang (second phase of Line 6), Zhenlong (Knowledge City Line and Suiguanshen Intercity Railway) and Zengcheng Square (Line 16).


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