AN INTEGRAL part of the city's efforts to reduce traffic congestion ahead of the Olympic Games in 2008, Beijing Metro Line 5 opened for revenue service on October 7.

The 27·6 km line runs from Taipingzhuang in the north to Songjiazhuang in the south, where an interchange is planned with Line 10, which is currently under construction. Line 5 is the first north-south line in the city, and provides three interchanges with the existing metro network. In total, it serves 23 stations and end-to-end journey time is around 40 min.

The Line 5 cars are air-conditioned and are equipped with passenger information screens that can support live broadcasts; these will be used during the Olympic Games to show sporting events. Mobile phones can also be used onboard despite the line being below the surface for more than half its length.

The opening of Line 5 is the latest stage in the rapid expansion of Beijing's metro network. The city authorities hope to start work on a further six new lines by the end of the year, taking the network to a projected 561 route-km by 2015, when it is hoped that 8 million passengers/day will use the system, up from the current 2·2 million.