ON SEPTEMBER 3 Nanjing became the sixth Chinese city with an operational metro, when the first section of Line 1 was formally inaugurated by the Governor of Jiangsu province Liang Bao-Hua.

The governor was joined at the inauguration by Nanjing mayor Jiang Hong-Kun, local Party Secretary Li Yuan-Chao, and Nanjing Metro General Manager Mr Zhu.

The 16·9 km north-south line links Maigaoqiao and Xiaohang, serving 16 stations. Trial running began earlier this year, using the first of the 20 six-car Metropolis trainsets being supplied by Alstom and Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Works.

During the first 10 days of service, up to 150000 passengers/day used the line, which has been equipped with a contactless smartcard ticketing system by Thales and Panda Electronics under a turnkey contract worth more than €18m. This is fully compatible with the existing Nanjing City Card used on buses and taxis.

In the longer term, the city is planning a 14-line metro serving 150 stations which is to be completed by 2050. Construction is already underway on a 4·8 km extension of Line 1 to Hexi and the Olympic Stadium. Following a groundbreaking ceremony in December 2003, work is also expected to start this month on the 21·6 km east-west Line 2 from Zhonghechun to Maqun, which is due to open in 2008.