THE SHANGHAI metro expansion programme took a great leap forward on December 29 with the simultaneous opening of five new sections.

The entirely new Line 9 opened to link Gui Lin Road with Song Jiang Xin Cheng, a distance of 29·1 km. Line 9 is currently not connected to the rest of the network and was originally conceived as a regional express service to serve the Song Jiang New City development to the west of the city centre. It will become a conventional cross-city metro line running to Pudong in the east over a total distance of 45·5 km.

The first phase of Line 8, the Yangpu Line, saw services commence over an entirely-underground route from Shi Guang Road to Yao Hua Road, serving 21 stations over 22·6 km. Line 6 is another addition to the city's burgeoning network, running north-south from Gang Cheng Road to South Ling Yan Road, a distance of 28·8 km that includes 27 stations.

Two extensions were also commissioned on existing lines 1 and 4. The city centre circle was completed by connecting Lan Cun Road with Da Mu Qiao Road along the northern bank of the Huangpu River. The orbital Line 4 shares part of its route with Line 3, the Pearl Line.

Lastly, the northernmost section of Line 1 was completed by an extension of 4·3 km between Gong Fu Xin Cun and Fu Jing Road.

Thales has supplied its SelTrac MS communications-based train control technology for use on the three new-build lines, enabling trains to operate at 112 sec headways. However, initial services on these lines are running at reduced frequencies as part of a phased roll-out of new trains.

The rapid growth of the city's metro system shows no sign of abating, with construction work continuing on a raft of new lines that the local authorities believe will see the network reach 11 lines totalling 400 km by 2010.

Siemens and its local joint venture partner CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive have been awarded contracts worth a combined total of €431m to supply rolling stock and control systems for Line 11 in Shaghai and extensions of lines 2 and 8 in Guangzhou.