Cultural & Business Guide

Metro in China


Because of the traffic congestion, metro has become a popular means of transport for both the Chinese and foreigners. Actually, the metro is present in the biggest Chinese cities: the oldest one was built in Beijing back in 1969. According to the Statistic Brief World Metro figures (, the average annual number of passenger traffic in 2012 was 2,460 million in Beijing, while in Shanghai it was 2,269 million and in Guangzhou 1,814 million.

Metro is pretty popular and may help you save time.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), 22 cities already have subways and another 16 will have metro systems operating by the end of 2018.

Beijing Metro

Beijing Metro is the oldest in the whole country.

It has 319 stations and covers the territory of the capital thanks to 15 regular lines plus other 6 dedicated lines (including the line going to the Capital Airport).

Thanks to the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing metro has undergone development and significant changes, not only concerning the enlargement of the railroads, but also including a modernization in ticketing and subway carriages. Last but not least, mobiles can be used during every ride, except for a few stations with no network coverage.

One curiosity: the logo was implemented in 1984 and represents the letter “G” which includes the letter “D” which, in turn, incorporates the letter “B” inside. Its meaning is Běijīng gāosù diànchē or "Beijing high-speed electric carriage".

Shanghai Metro

In spite of its “young age”, Shanghai metro is the longest metro in the world. It was built in 1993 and thanks to Shanghai Expo 2010 it underwent huge changes.

The metro includes 14 lines, 337 stations, and covers 548 km.

Maglev deserves a special mention. It is a magnetic levitation train which links Longyang Road to Pudong Airport.

The construction of the line began on 1st March 2001, and public service started on 1st January 2004.

One way ticket costs about 50 yuan (round trip 85 Yuan) and it may be purchased at the airport or even in the metro junction (i.e. Jing an Temple stop) and it is worth its price: this is one of the two Maglevs operating in the world (the other one being in Japan).

East or West?

Having a look at the metro map, you will find that some stop names are very similar. Actually, there is a significant difference between Tian Anmen Xi stop and Tian Anmen Dong stop because Xi in Chinese means “west”, while Dong means “east”, which makes the stops quite distant from each other. Bear in mind that the length of Chinese streets is very much different from the European ones, so if you get off at the wrong stop, you may walk back for a few hundred meters.

Here are the direction signs:

  • (dōng): East
  • 西 (xī): West
  • (nán): South
  • (bĕi): North

Last but not least, check the map inside the metro to choose the most convenient and closest exit for your destination.

No fines, thanks!

To enter the metro, of course, you need to buy the ticket at the electronic counters that can be easily found in the stations.

In Beijing, the fares changed at the end of 2014, and since then they are in accordance with the distance. The minimum fare is a ticket of 3 Yuan for a ride shorter than 6 km, up to 10 Yuan for fares up to 112 km.

In Shanghai, except for the one ride ticket, you may also purchase a one day or a three day pass, or even buy a smart card (deposit fee is 10 or 20 Yuan) that you may recharge periodically and the card is also accepted on the taxi, bus or other means of transport.

The Automatic AddValue Machines sell tickets in Shanghai, and they are very simple: you have to choose the route and the fare is calculated automatically. Pay attention that some of them accept only ½ Yuan and 1 Yuan coins, while others accept banknotes as well. If you do not feel confident, just refer to the Service Centre inside the metro.

Smart metro

In all Chinese metro carriages, you will find LED screens with advertisements (in Chinese) and in some of the carriages passengers will be informed about the stops both in Chinese and English.

You may also find Apps that show you the metro Maps (i.e. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong), and give updates on traffic, information about the cost of the ticket according to the chosen journey, etc. in real time.

Last but not least, by the end of March, in Shanghai metro the old lines on the floor which indicated the pathway to the exit will be replaced by new projection on the floor.

By the way, try to avoid rush hours (7-9 am and 5-7 pm) in order not to be stuck in the crowd, and always keep an eye on your belongings.

External links

Project 2014-1-PL01-KA200-003591