Transport Links to New Beijing Airport: F*cking Amaze (Beep!)

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in Beijing, Beijing + Tianjin + Hebei | No Comments

11:25 (UTC+08:00), 05 JUN 2018 | CHN XIDAN, BEIJING

No other “clean” expression in the English language today is enough to describe the utter amazement and my sense of being completely overwhelmed at how Beijing is doing its transport links to the new Daxing International Airport (which is what everyone’s calling it, in spite of the new airport not yet having an official name — and the alternative names including Wudalang, short for Wuqing / Daxing / Langfang — don’t seem to have what it really takes to make the airport, well maybe, sound right

It looks like nothing is sacred to planners who want to make this the world’s most important airport, ever. We’re looking at pics like these

…which in essence shows, to the far end, a new High Speed Rail line being built (Beijing – Xiongan) as well as a motorway with a new airport express Beijing Subway line being sandwiched in the middle layer. You really can’t make this stuff up.

This is the kind of stuff that would send the makers of Crossrail and Co into the worst dreams at night — as in We should’ve done this way or so. Because what Beijing is showcasing here is actually an incredibly smart way of designing infrastructure. Knowing we’ve only one planet suitable for human habitation and the worsening of the environment in recent years (the US pulling of Paris does not loosen our load one bit; rather, it makes it far worse), Chinese planners are doing everything to reduce footprint.

City planners also seemed to have learnt from their piecemeal construction of transport links to the old Capital Airport (but hey, back in Mao’s days, virtually nobody flew around; there wasn’t enough money, and China as in the PRC was really isolated on the world stage, so they had less tough demand to start with). To Capital Airport, what we had was a two-lane highway to start with (one lane each way, all on one embankment; horrific at traffic jams, but completely covered by trees). By the time Deng’s reforms were reality for 12 years, it was clear that money-making in China wouldn’t be possible just with that ridiculously minuscule highway, so we built the six-lane Airport Motorway next to it (and introduced ETC, which the then-Swissair, as I heard, was a huge fan of — our people, our efficiency!). The Airport Motorway worked fine, until car ownership mushroomed into the 2000s, so we had to build a tube link (the Airport Express) along the main motorway route, as well as add the Airport North Motorway and an Airport Second Motorway (“Second Airport Motorway” might sound more like we’ve two airports — which we don’t really have in terms of world hubs). Terminal 3 seemed to have futureproofed future rail links, but so far, it’s just the Airport Express in service.

So when they started with the new Daxing Airport, right from the very first moment, it was 250 km/h (157 mph) HSR and motorway (likely 8 lanes) and express tube (express subway). Planners seemed to have raised 23 million* middle fingers at the horrendous traffic congestion plaguing the present-day “old” airport — so that this won’t ever happen again! (Not when you’re in essence building the world’s largest airport!) I also like the sandwiched express metro link — I remember Hong Kong had one of those as well! Especially the bit by Kwai Chung and Southern Kowloon…

Honestly, people: You can’t make this sh*t up. If the vultures high up say China is screwed economically, well, at least at ground level here, none of this seems to be showing. And don’t give me this bull shiitake that this is Ordos 2.0 in the making. It’s almost sure to make you slap your face once you’re stuck on an eternal traffic jam here — which will come, by the way, some day in the future…

So hopefully, in future, we’ll see more of these smart, future-ready (and hopefully also more futureproofed!) transport links reality. In the meantime, for the old Capital Airport, the only relief road we’ll be waiting for is the promised Beijing-Miyun Motorway. Like the “Dense Dolphin Line”** we were promised before, city planners seem to drag their feet on this for another million trillion years as well… Bad behaviour…   

* City of Beijing to “soft cap” at 23 million, hence the figure
** An epic mistranslation of “Mizhuo Zhixian”, or Miyun-Zhuozhou Branch Motorway