Getting To Know Beijing’s Subway Line 10 (Part 1)

Beijing’s Subway Line 10, slated to open in June 2008, looks at first to be an arc line — the only arc line of its type when it opens. Having just been spoilt by a glitzy new Line 5 in October 2007, Beijingers are probably too deep into deciphering the new Mozart Line (as your Beijingologist calls it after the opening ceremony was accompanied by Mozart at every station) to note that three new lines — Lines 8 and 10, as well as the Airport Express — will be reality in just less than two months’ time. (As I always say — “please get ready for your arrival!”)

Click the image for a bigger map.

Line 10, at first, looks to be this odd arc running from northwestern urban Beijing through to the CBD. It looks a bit half-done, to be honest; it’s either an amalgamation of two lines or half a loop. But don’t let that throw you off: Line 10, when it opens, will be absolutely crucial to the Chinese capital. You’ll find yourself taking the new line more often than you think.

Don’t believe me? Hop along for a quick test drive.

What Line 10 Means To Beijing

Line 10 doesn’t exactly travel through new territory at first glance. Subway services already serve the southeastern part of the Zhongguancun region, as well as Shaoyaoju (a residential quarter not far from the University of International Business and Economics), and there’s a subway line underneath Chang’an Avenue. At first, there’s not that much excitement.

But wait — Line 10′s there for a reason. To get from the CBD to Zhongguancun right now, it’s a ride on three lines. With Line 10, you’ll just need to hop in from Guomao station and stay on the train until Zhongguancun, exiting at Haidian Huangzhuang station for Zhongguancun Avenue — that “big street” through China’s Silicon Valley (as they call it).

Line 10 doesn’t just add new spots served by the subway (much of the eastern 3rd Ring Road, as well as northern urban Beijing), it actually does a great job of joining existing lines and adding in a host of shortcuts and transfer stations. No doubt about it: once you’re on Line 10, you’ll wonder how the heck you made it through x-million transfer stations before the new line.

Who’ll Use Line 10 The Most

So who’ll use Line 10 the most? Off the top of our heads, we can think of quite a number of people…

• Line 10 will be big with commuters in the CBD, thanks to its unique geographical location — right underneath the eastern 3rd Ring Road and at the heart of the Guomao region.

• Line 10 will also be big with people headed to Zhongguancun. Up till now, they had to — in essence — “make do” with more-than-mediocre stops at Zhichunlu or Wudaokou — which is in the eastern part of Zhongguancun, away from the high-tech malls.

• Finally, Line 10 will be big with Olympians. This line links directly to Line 8, also known as the Olympic Branch Line. You’ll see a lot of Olympians headed on Line 10 come August 2008.

Good Connections

When Line 10 opens in June 2008, the new subway line will already link to 5 existing (or new!) lines: Lines 1, 5, 8, 13 (twice) and the Airport Express. When Line 4 (going through the heart of Zhongguancun) is reality by late 2009, we’ll have Line 10 linking up to 6 lines.

And the good thing is that two stations have already been built as “instant transfer” stations, where there’s, in essence, no need to walk into a super-long passageway (if you’ve ever changed from Line 1 to Line 2 at Fuxingmen station in central Beijing, you know what we mean!) If you’re transferring to Line 5 at Huixinxijie Nankou station, or if you’ll be headed to Line 4 at Haidian Huangzhuang station beginning autumn 2009, you’ll benefit from those “instant transfer” stations.

Other stations are quite a walk if you’re going from one line to the other — but they’ll be shorter than the average Swiss dog walk, with the longest transfer passageway — the one at Guomao between Lines 1 and 10 — no longer than 70 meters. Those of you with sprinty, long legs (like yours truly) will most likely be able to finish the walk in about a minute.

Due to the rather odd way the Beijing Subway network is laid out, Line 10 will miss transfers with Line 2 and the Batong Line. You’ll have to transfer via Lines 1, 5 or 13 to reach Line 2, and a quick trip on Line 1 at Guomao (heading east) is required before you’re on the Batong Line bound for eastern suburban Beijing.

Core Areas of Note — 1: Guomao and CBD

Line 10 starts very close to the Beijing CBD — its third stop from the present southernmost terminus, Jinsong, is smack in the center of the CBD, at Guomao. Unlike Line 1, which runs across the CBD in a west-east manner, Line 10 does the job north-south, delving deeper into the heartland of the CBD.

When it opens in June, there will be — for the first time — a subway station south of Guomao Bridge. (Presently, all exits are to the north of the mega-overpass.) This could come in hand for those who work at the Motorola Tower, or the China Merchants Tower, as all of these are to the southeast.

Line 10 will also link up (as previously mentioned) with Line 1 at Guomao. Due to the challenging conditions that made up the Line 10 bit of Guomao station, however, it’ll be quite a walk — about 70 meters. The technical details behind this: they had to dodge the hidden “poles” that were put in place when Guomao and Dabeiyao bridges were built. For the average guy on the street (or in the Subway), it amounted to as something as straightforward (or as difficult) as sticking in an extra Subway station without upsetting the existing Line 1 station or two bridges above ground. Not an easy task!

When the core part of the CBD opens (with Taiwan Center as the new centerpiece) after the Games, there will be direct links into the new buildings from the Line 10 part of the station, a bit like the direct link from the Line 1 bit into the China World Trade Center complex.

Core Areas of Note — 2: Eastern 3rd Ring Road, Hotel Area

Hotels and the eastern part of the 3rd Ring Road are in some kind of love affair. The Jinxin Hotel and the Kempinski up north near Liangmaqiao (near the Sanlitun embassy area), of course, starts the whole eastern part of the ring road off in Hotel Mode, and this is continue further south by the Kunlun Hotel and the Great Wall Sheraton. Hotels take a break at the National Agricultural Exhibition Center, but continue with the Zhaolong Hotel just minutes away from Sanlitun and the Bar Street. Further south are glitzier hotels a la the Jingguang Centre (one of those super-tall hotels), and — of course — the cluster around Guomao.

The eastern part of Line 10 as it stands, then, will probably be full of expats and incoming laowais (“me no like that term”… as I say…). Out-squashing them, however, will most likely be the local citizenry, especially around Guomao, as the eastern part of Line 10 is also home to what must be a million offices. Offices are particularly concentrated around the Sanyuan Bridge area (where the 3rd Ring Road meets the Airport Freeway) and the Guomao area (where the beltway runs through the heart of Beijing’s CBD).

Line 10 has two stops in the heart of the CBD — Jintaixizhao, which will also connect to the CCTV tower (a Rem Koolhaas creation), and Guomao further south. The CBD is also well served by Yong’anli and Dawanglu stations on Line 1.

Core Areas of Note — 3: Olympic Green

Line 10 just misses the Olympic Green, situated north of Beitucheng Crossing in northern urban Beijing (along the north-south axis), but it conveniently links to Line 8 at the Beitucheng transfer station.

The Olympic Green, then, is served until around 2011 by what is often termed the Olympic Branch Line of Line 10, which, in essence, is actually Line 8. This bit of the subway, however, will continue after 2008: the Olympic Village, in fact, has been sold out to the citizens (the average people in the street), thereby “recycling” the very village!

Further plans tell of the construction of commercial towers along the northern bit of the Olympic Green, just north of the National Convention Center (which is where the media will be situated during Summer Olympics). In “just a bit”, time-wise, we can expect the area around the Bird’s Nest to be a new commercial district. By now, you’re forced to concede that the guys who designed the Olympic extension were thinking for the long term — beyond the Olympics!

Core Areas of Note — 4: Zhongguancun

Heading further counterclockwise (or west), Line 10 finally ends up in the Zhongguancun area. Zhichunlu is the first stop in the region, as Line 10 links with Line 13, which runs close to the eastern Zhongguancun artery — Zhongguancun East Road. A stop further west, in Zhichunli, is more residential than high-tech, but the icing on the cake is Haidian Huangzhuang station.

The saying goes that “the best is yet to come”, and for Haidian Huangzhuang and for Zhongguancun as a whole, this is certainly the case. When Line 4 of the Beijing Subway opens in late September 2009, this very station will become a transfer station with Line 4. Line 4 is that bit more special — and more Zhongguancun, so to speak — because it runs right underneath Zhongguancun Avenue, past the heart of the tech hub, and even outside of the east gate of Peking University!

Next week, we’ll continue and finish our look at Line 10, by going into a few Line 10 stations. Stay tuned!

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