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ON THE HORIZON:Tianjin’s Infrastructure Godsend, Metro Line 6 Begins Partial Operations
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Tianjin's Infrastructure Godsend

Metro Line 6 Begins Partial Operations

By Richard J. Cook

3.pic hdAugust 6th of last month saw the opening of the long awaited Metro Line 6 for public use. Currently, 8 stations are operational allowing passage from Chang Hong Gong Yuan, which is now a transfer station from line 2 to line 6, to Nan Cui Ping, roughly a kilometer away from Aocheng. In addition, passengers will also be able to transfer onto metro line 3 at Hong Qi Nan Lu. Currently metro operations are available from 9:00am to 6:00pm whilst the line is operating in a trial period. Running time between Changhong Gongyuan and Nancuiping is 14 minutes, accounting for 88 journeys per day with the 10 minute waiting time between trains, also highlighting the new brisk capabilities of the latest automotive metro-trains.

Currently the 6-car automotive Type-B metro-trains can reach a whooping 80km/h, requiring minimal human helmsmen-ship for operation. The new automotive features, which are currently under trial, also provide a new range of security features to assist the helmsman oversee the completion of each journey. The latest technology in metro line circuit breakers is present, as well as a full range of thorough computer sensors placed throughout the track. Upon the completion of the full extent of the line, the operational capacity can be increased by a further 2 metro cars, certainly handy for the rush hour.

2.pic hdThe line 6 stations will also showcase a theme, displaying the industrial prowess and heritage of Tianjin's past whilst showcasing the rapid development as modern China has established itself. Furthermore, the Tianjin Metro Authority will be showcasing its 100% punctuality, supplementing China's global rail transit reputation.

Towards the end of the year, phase 1 of metro line 6 is expected to be fully operational, with journeys from Nan Sun Zhuang station in the north to Shui Shang Gong Yuan Dong Lu station at Aocheng. Phase 2 will follow roughly around this time next year, corresponding to the opening of metro line 5, wherein both metro lines will be linked at Zhong Liu Yi Yuan, Tianjin Bin Guan and Wen Hua Zhong Xin stations. Phase 2 of line 6 will see operations extended to Mei Lin Lu in the south of the city. Acting as a semi-circle, line 6 will arch over the west flank of Tianjin whilst metro line 5 will arch to the east, forming a circular system, essentially Tianjin's first metro ring. More so, line 5's construction progress is not far behind that of line 6, so the full circular network may well be up and operational by this time next year.

Falling Short?

4.pic hdThe original plan for metro line 6 has been somewhat elusive over the years, with as many alterations as metro stations. A major aspect of the original plan has effectively been announced in a somewhat unclear manner regarding the metro line stretching to the newly ordained Haihe Education Park.

Following premature reports of the metro's progression at the beginning of the year, Baidu, Google and A Maps all removed the "line under construction" markers from their maps displaying the original intention of metro line 6 running to Tianjin University's and Nankai University's new campus'. This will be seen as a blow to Tianjin's bustling higher education community in the short term as both universities seek to capitalize on their successful brand. However, it's not all doom and gloom as the door has been left open for extensions at both sides of line 6 in the coming years, as well as the potential for tram line Z1 to be constructed in other parts of Jinnan District.

Increasing Tianjin's Livability

Once completed and implemented line 6, as well as line 5 will be a crucial factor to everyday life in Tianjin. Both lines will operate as Tianjin's first sub-ground ring transportation mode, effectively taking on the role of coordinating population flow around the districts of Tianjin. Not only that, this major expansion of sub-ground transportation in the city will create a whole range of new urban linkages within the city as well as easing commuter congestion on the already established lines 1, 2, 3 and 9 as well as bus services. These collective factors are going to usher in a new urban layout for the city as a whole, as more and more people will have greater travel time flexibility and efficiency, meaning increased livability.

5.pic hdA city's livability is always a crucial factor when attracting major businesses and showcasing an urban brand for further economic development. As such, sub-ground transportation is a critical factor for this, because it increases urban accessibility and thus livability. Take Shanghai and Beijing for instance, both bustling metropolis complete with a vast subterranean metro network. In terms of transportation these cities are ranked as some of the most livable places in the world.

When Tianjin's urban and rural population stats, metro network plans and other commercial/residential development zones are collectively analysed, there is a pretty interesting picture. As the analysis shows, different interlinking zones of Tianjin are going to form a matrix of sectors, each to their own corresponding purpose. In plain speaking, it is a citywide division of labour which conforms to a trend of suburbanization. The indicators are pretty clear and conform to Tianjin moving away from a monocentric city model towards a polycentric city model, or "edge city model" as some would term it.

The concept behind this so-called "division of sector responsibility" falls into the pretense of, "what makes a city livable?" Considering Tianjin's population and its population distribution between the two primary urban polarities, Tianjin City Centre and Binhai, there is a need to redistribute residential and commercial zones. If a monocentric model were continued the two urban polarities would be overcome with over population problems and lack of viable space, a major stumbling block for ensuring growth.

The eventual completion of the project is going to usher in a new era for the city, without a doubt. The accessibility that will be made available will bolster workforce movement, redistribute resources and reveal the new afore mentioned polycentric urban model. Stemming from the metro network will be a redesigned surface transport network as well. These transport network components include bus services and green transport spaces, all in all, trying to reduce car-commuting dependency. A polycentric urban layout ultimately requires an efficient mode of commutability and considering the outstanding congestion problems, it is critical to implement this new surface transport network as well. Commentators and analysts have taken to the plans relatively well, stating that Tianjin will be one of the most livable cities once many of the new metro lines are completed. Perfect, for a city aiming to be at the apex of the Chinese, Asian and global economies by the early 2020's.


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