CONFETTI-GUN salutes and loud cheers greeted the opening of China's latest metro on December 28, when Guangdong Party Secretary Zhang Dejiang inaugurated the first two lines in Shenzhen.

Under construction since March 2001, the 21·8 km first phase has cost 11·5bn yuan. Line 1 runs east-west from the KCR border station at Lo Wu to the Window on the World theme park at Shijiezhichuang, with 15 stations; end-to-end journey time is 35min. The first section of Line 4 runs north-south between Saoniangang and Fumin, serving four stations including an interchange with Line 1 at Huizhanzhongxin. In 2008 Line 4 will be extended south to Huanggang, providing a connection with KCR's new Lok Ma Chau spur.

Following the formal ceremony at 16.00, the guests rode Line 1 in two reserved trains. The network was opened to the public an hour later for the evening rush hour. Large crowds built up, and some stations had to be closed to relieve the congestion. By 23.45 on the first day the metro had carried over 15000 passengers.

With only eight of the 22 six-car trains available for service, seven trains are operating a 15min interval service on Line 1, and one train provides a 20min shuttle on Line 4. Shenzhen Metro Corp's General Manager, Operations, Jiang Weibin hopes to cut headways to 8min as further trains are delivered this year.