CHINA: Chengdu now has the country’s fourth largest urban rail network, following the inauguration of five routes totalling more than 160 km.

The start of revenue service on four new metro lines and one express metro extension on December 18 has taken the total length of Chengdu’s rail transit network to 558 route-km, including two suburban tram lines totalling 40 km.


Among the new lines to be inaugurated, Line 9 is the first in Chengdu to be equipped for fully automatic driverless operation to GoA4.

This 22·2 km orbital line loops around the southwestern quadrant of the city centre, running from Huangtianba near Chengdu Xi main line station to Financial City East. It serves 13 stations of which 11 are interchanges to other routes, and has a dedicated depot at Wuqing.

Authorised by the National Development & Reform Commission in July 2016, Line 9 is equipped with signalling and train control systems from Alstom, which also provided the traction technology.


It is operated by a fleet of 25 eight-car Type A trainsets supplied by CRRC Changchun, of which 22 were assembled locally. According to the manufacturer, each trainset is fitted with more than 6 000 sensors, including CCTV cameras, obstacle and derailment detectors. Each train has a crush load capacity of 3 496 passengers.

Line 9 connects at Financial City East with the northwest – south Line 6 which opened on the same day. Running 69 km from Wangcong Temple to Lanjiagou, this is said to be the longest metro line in China to be opened at one time. The fully underground line serves 56 stations and has three depots.


Line 6 was authorised by NDRC in May 2015, although construction did not get underway until September 2016 and the first of 42 tunnel boring machines was launched in March 2017. A short 3·1 km northwestern extension from Wangcong Temple to Taiqing Lu with two stations was approved in 2019.

This route is also operated by eight-car Type A trainsets, with CRRC Qingdao Sifang manufacturing a fleet of 108 which can operate at up to 80 km/h. These aluminium-bodied trains are 185 m long and 3 000 mm wide, with a design capacity for 2 480 passengers and a maximum crush load of 3 456.

Line 8 runs for 29·1 km, linking Shilidian in the northeast with Lianhua in the southwest, serving 25 stations including 14 interchanges.

This route has been under construction since September 2017, having been approved by the Sichuan Provincial Development & Reform Commission in December 2016. Two extensions are expected to open in 2024, running northeast from Shilidian to Guilong Lu and southwest from Lianhua to Longgang.

CRRC Changchun has supplied 43 six-car Type A trainsets for Line 8. These are 140 m long with a design capacity for 1 904 passengers and a crush load of 2 564.

Express metro lines


The fourth new route is the 26·1 km express metro Line 17, running from Jitouqiao on Line 9 to Jingxin in the northwestern suburbs, via an interchange with Line 4 at Fengxihe. The outermost 5 km section of this line and the last two stations at Huangshi and Jinxing are elevated, with the remainder in tunnel.

A 24·8 km extension from Jitouqiao through the city centre to Gaochong in the eastern suburbs is expected to open in 2022. At this point, the route will be split, with the western section between Jinxing and Jiujiang North becoming Line 19; this in turn is due to be extended south to Shuangliu airport and the southern suburbs.

Line 17 has been designed for a maximum speed of 140 km/h. It is operated by a fleet of 20 eight-car trainsets, which are 187 m long. These have a ‘suburban’ interior layout with a mix of longitudinal and transverse seating, giving a design capacity for 2 096 passengers and a crush load of 2 958.


December 18 also saw the inauguration of a 19·8 km extension of Line 18 from Sancha to Tianfu International Airport North in the southeast of the city. The first phase of this express metro line was opened in September, linking Chengdu Nan station with Sancha, and the extension takes it to a total length of 69·4 km. Line 18 is also designed for 140 km/h operation and worked by a fleet of eight-car Type A trainsets.

Looking ahead, the city government has unveiled ambitious plans to create a 35-line network by 2035. This would increase the total route length to no less than 1 666 km, made up of 1 389 km of metro lines and 277 km of suburban railway.