Speed and convenience: Metro combines best of both worlds

Xu Lingchao
The city is now making the transition to express Metro lines that incorporate the advantages of both subway and high-speed rail.
Xu Lingchao

Work has begun on a new express rail line through Shanghai, another step in Metro’s move toward a hybrid form of urban rapid transport that is faster than existing Metro lines but has more stops than conventional high-speed trains.

“Express rail is the future direction of the Metro network,” said Jin Songhong, head of the planning department at the Shanghai Transportation Commission.

The new line, scheduled to be completed in 2024, will run 68.6 kilometers from Shanghai East Railway Station which is yet to be built near Pudong International Airport to Hongqiao Central Business District near Hongqiao International Airport, through the Pudong New Area and Xuhui and Minhang districts, with nine stops.

More than 80 percent of the new line will operate underground, and all its stations will be transfer points to other Metro and railway lines.

Shen Yicheng, a researcher at the commission’s planning department, said the rapid development of the city requires more sophisticated forms of people-movers.

All trains on the new line will have eight carriages and run as fast as 160 kilometers an hour. Passengers can travel between the two airports of the city within 40 minutes by the express line.

Shanghai Metro is the world’s largest rapid-transit system by length, with about 703 kilometers. The system began operation in 1993. The city ultimately plans 1,000 kilometers of rail lines apart from the traditional Metro system.

Jin said it took a long time for the researchers and engineers to determine the final route of the new line because of limited space now available above and below ground in the city.

The line will stop at Hongqiao Station, Qibao Watertown, Huajing Town, South Sanlin, Zhangjiang, Shanghai Disney Resort, Pudong International Airport and Shanghai East Railway Station.

Apart from Qibao Watertown and the Shanghai East Railway Station, all the stations will be underground.

At Hongqiao Station, passengers will be able to transfer to Metro lines 2, 10 and 17. Qibao Watertown will connect to the Zhongchun Road Station of Line 9. Other stations will connect to other rail lines and to Metro lines in construction or being planned.

After trains depart from Hongqiao above ground, they will operate on an elevated track above the G50 Shanghai-Chongqing Expressway. After the Qibao station, the trains will run underground. The deepest tracks will be 36 meters beneath the surface.

While mapping out the route was difficult, construction presents its own logistical problems.

Jin said the above-ground section between Qibao and Huajing stations is where high-speed railroad trains now operate. Another new high-speed train track connecting Shanghai with Huzhou in neighboring Zhejiang Province and Suzhou in Jiangsu Province will also be built in the area.

“We must be very careful not to jeopardize the normal operations of the railway system,” said Jin.

In 2012, the city opened its first express rail line from South Shanghai Railway Station to the suburban district of Jinshan. The line dramatically cuts commute times for people traveling between the district and downtown.

“Passengers will have more options when traveling around the city,” Shen said of the new line. “We don’t see the main function of the express line as simply taking passengers between the two airports.”

In the future, the express line will have a branch from South Shanghai Railway Station to South Sanlin Station.

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