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Transportation in Beijing

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Beijing, as the capital and a municipality of the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a transportation hub, with a sophisticated network of roads, railways and a major airport. Four completed ring roads encircle a city with nine expressways heading out in virtually all compass directions, supplemented by eleven China National Highways.

Rail Edit

Beijing has two major railway stations: Beijing Railway Station (or the central station) and Beijing West Railway Station.

Six other railway stations in Metropolitan Beijing handle regular passenger traffic: Beijing East, Beijing North, Beijing South, Fengtai, Guanganmen, and Xinghuo.

Hepingli Railway Station seems to have been completely abandoned and is apparently no longer in service.

Railways Edit

Beijing is a railway hub of China. The following seven major intra-national railways radiate out of Beijing:

International trains leave from Beijing:

Roads Edit

One of the biggest concerns with traffic in Beijing deals with its apparently ubiquitous traffic jams. Traffic in the city centre is often gridlocked, especially around rush hour. (Even outside of rush hour, several roads still remain clogged up with traffic.) Topping out areas with frequent traffic jams are areas such as the eastern and western 2nd and 3rd Ring Roads, the northern 4th Ring Road, Shangqing Bridge, Jianguo Road, and Xidaokou.

The authorities have attempted several moves to unblock traffic -- with limited success. The police are also in a mood to fine traffic violators; however, it's a case of "here today, gone tomorrow" for a few locations. With car ownership soaring, and the authorities not in an attitude to copy Shanghai's method of auctioning licence plates (to limit road traffic) or slapping extra costs, the traffic situation looks serious. It is ironic that, while the 7th Ring Road is in planning, central Beijing remains a virtual car park during rush hour. Critics point out that Beijing's "ringing" and urban sprawl are major factors in clogged up city traffic. So far, no elevated highways (a la Shanghai or Hong Kong) have been built in Beijing.

Road construction has been maximised, with more new road projects being commenced than ever. Unfortunately, unlike 2003 (which witnessed the opening of the remaining 40% of the 5th Ring Road on time on November 1, 2003), 2004 has proven to be a poor year in terms of the Beijing authorities holding their promises on new roads being opened to the general motoring traffic. The Jingcheng Expressway (3rd Ring Road - 4th Ring Road) opened two days behind time (September 30 instead of September 28), and with access to the expressway only on the ring road section heading anticlockwise, and only bound for Chengde, being possible. Meanwhile, the southwestern 6th Ring Road was scheduled to be opened in November 2004, but has been delayed; an inspection of the ring road was concluded in late November, with success, but the road still remains closed as of mid-December 2004. Basic work for the Airport Expressway (2nd Ring Road - 3rd Ring Road) was boasted for completion by December 12, 2004; that, too, was a missed deadline.

One big problem is that public transportation is underdeveloped (the underground system is presently minimal) and that even buses are jam-packed with people around rush hour. Beijing authorities claim that traffic jams may be a thing of a past come the 2008 Olympics. The authorities have introduced several bus lanes where, during rush hour, all vehicles except for public buses must keep clear of the special lanes. Once they're working successfully, however, a different problem emerges with congestion at bus stops -- within bus lanes. As there are no published schedules, order collapses.

Another problem is the driving situation itself. Respect for the law is only settling in -- slowly. As a result, Beijing drivers may still pull out to overtake in all directions, and some don't bother with the indicator lights. Traffic violations are rife, checked only by the police on duty. Overtaking on the right, a no-no in nations where driving on the right side of the road is standard, is exerciced with alarming frequency -- even on expressways. Local drivers are inconceivably aggressive; a few cases of over-irritated drivers resorting to physical violence is not unheard of. Driving on Beijing roads for beginners is potentially dangerous.

Roads in Beijing often are in one of the four compass directions (unlike, for example, Tianjin). Additionally, five ring roads (including one partially open), nine expressways, and numerous fast through routes and China National Highways all form a sophisticated traffic infrastructure.

Ring roads Edit

Main article: Ring Roads of Beijing

The city is served by four completed concentric ring roads (with a fifth nearing completion); these are:

The western part of the 6th Ring Road is still partially under projection. There are rare references to a 7th Ring Road. It is odd to note that Beijing does not officially have a 1st Ring Road.

Expressways Edit

Main topic: Expressways of Beijing

Nine toll expressways link Beijing to its suburbs, outlying regions, and other cities; these are:

The Jingcheng Expressway is still partially under construction, and when it is complete, it will link to Chengde. The Jingha and Jingkai Expressways are only complete through the Beijing municipal border.

China National Highways Edit

Main article: China National Highways of Beijing

Eleven China National Highway routes depart from Beijing in virtually all compass directions:

Air Edit

Beijing's main airport is the Beijing Capital International Airport near Shunyi, which is about 20 kilometres northeast of Beijing proper. Flights from all major continents land in Beijing. This airport is also where a lot of domestic lines land.

Other airports in the city include Liangxiang Airport, Nanyuan Airport, Xijiao Airport and Badaling Airport. However, these are less well-known. Domestic Flights to Beijing

Public transitEdit

Beijing SubwayEdit

Main Article: Beijing Subway

The evolving Beijing Subway has four lines (two above ground, two underground), with several more being built in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Line 1 goes from Pingguoyuan to Sihui East, passing through Xidan, Tiananmen, Wangfujing and Guomao on the city's central East-West axis.

Line 2 is the Loop Line, following the route of the 2nd Ring Road and connecting with Line 1 at Jianguomen and Fuxingmen and Line 13 at Dongzhimen and Xizhimen

Line 13 is the CityRail Line, making a half-loop through Beijing's northern suburbs. Most of the line is above ground.

Other means of transportationEdit

There are hundreds of bus routes in the city, as well as many trolleybus routes. Taxis are nearly ubiquitous, and some can accept Yikatong cards for payment. The safety record of buses and trolleybuses are relatively good, but taxi drivers are known for their temper and accidents are not a rarity. English-speaking taxi drivers, though, are a rarity.

Buses and trolleybus fares cost CNY 1 for shorter trips, and more for longer trips. Some buses do away with conductors while others still keep them (these are generally older buses with extended cabins). Taxi fares depend on the vehicle type: these start at CNY 10 for the first 3 to 4 kilometers, and go up by CNY 1.60, 2.00, or 2.50 per extra kilometer; the per-kilometer charge is based upon the make and model of the vehicle.

In 1999, the environmentally unsound "bread cars" (mianbao che, a.k.a miandi) were decommissioned in a stringent manner. They used to charge CNY 1 per kilometre. Although it was sound, budget-wise, their poor environmental record and an increasing consciousness of the image of the capital were the factors that landed them in the dumpster. As of 2004, 1.20 RMB/km taxicabs (of the Xiali make) have been made obsolete as well, although in a less stringent manner.

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