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The awful traffic jams of Beijing was less of an issue in 2003, when I got my driving licence for China, as it is today, to such extents that even with a fifth of all cars taken off the roads on weekdays, the situation is still far from perfect. In 2007, Beijing’s new Subway Line 5 opened, massively slashing travel times from north to south Beijing. This was it for me, as beginning from that day, I started shifting my travels from the car to the subway trains.

Beijing Subway

The rather spartan Beijing Subway was built in 1969, to avoid foreign powers from invading the Chinese capital during the tense times of the Cold War, although Beijing had more to fear back then from Moscow than from Washington DC. With the reforms begun in the late 1970s, the enigmatic and secretive system finally opened to the outside world, but it would be two more decades before any extensions were built.

I’ve been on the system as a child in the late 1980s, when ticket checkers still had to tear away part of your ticket when you change lines. Fast forward to the 2010s, and I’ve been on just about the entire network. The Beijing Subway continues to be my best option to escape the jams that all too often plague the city, and is my only way out from home when my car is blocked one day of the week.

I’ve previously done a city wiki about the Beijing Subway — the project, then known as Beijingology, got merged into a larger project (Civitology), then was divided up into separate component sites on the new Street Level China. Thankfully, much of the content is still intact in the evolving Tracking China site.

Other City Metro Systems

Here’s a look at all other city metro systems I’ve been in (note: these do not include commuter rail operated by national or local rail authorities):

  • Austria: Vienna
  • Belgium: Brussels
  • China (Mainland): Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xi’an
  • France: Paris
  • Germany: Berlin
  • Hong Kong: Hong Kong MTR
  • Italy: Milan
  • The Netherlands: Amsterdam
  • Portugal: Lisbon
  • Singapore: Singapore MRT
  • Spain: Barcelona
  • Switzerland: Lausanne
  • Taiwan: Kaohsiung, Taipei
  • UK: London