Subway shootout: will Shanghai or Beijing finish the year with a longer metro system?

Beijing and Shanghai are fierce rivals. Both cities have dramatically increased the length of their subway networks in recent years, especially around Beijing’s 2008 Olympics and Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo.

Shanghai has 425km of track (excluding the Maglev and Jinshan Railway), making it the longest subway network in the world, while Beijing currently has 372km. Traditionally, the main metro networks in Mainland China open new lines in the last few days of December. This year is no different, with both the Shanghai Metro and Beijing Subway scheduled to open new lines in late December 2012. The metro operators rarely release information about exactly which lines will open until a few days before the end of the year, which leaves an intriguing conundrum: what will be the longest metro system in the world at the dawn of 2013?

Over the next few days we’ll be providing a rundown of what new lines you can look forward to riding in 2013, but here’s a sneak peek:

Beijing should open a brand new Line 6, which runs parallel to the overcrowded Line 1. Line 8 will extend further south to meet Line 2, Line 9 will extend north to meet Line 1 and Line 4, while Line 10 will add 23 new stations to almost complete a large loop around the city (the final two stations of the loop will open later in 2013). In total, around 70km of new track will open, which would take Beijing to a track length of 442 km.

Shanghai has three lines or extensions which may open before the end of the year: Line 9 is due for a 3-station, 6.5km extension in the west, linking up Songjiang South Railway Station. The 8km-long phase 1 of Line 13 will head west from Jinshajiang Road on Line 3/4 to Huajiang Road. The first phase of Line 12 in Pudong is 13.1km long, and will intersect with Line 4 and Line 6.

If Shanghai can manage to open 18km of track it will keep its total track length ahead of Beijing, but if deadlines slip to 2013 they could allow Beijing to take back the crown!

As always, the metro operators remain tightlipped about exactly which stations and lines will open. Delays are not uncommon, and some individual stations may open later than the rest of the line. Stay tuned for updates!

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photo by: JD Hancock

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