Subway in Beijing Is on Track

Beijing's subway system, seen as a symbol of the capital, has been working to improve services in line with internationally accepted practices since the city won the bid to stage the 2008 Olympic Games.

To avoid confusion caused by the complex Chinese names of stations, "line one" has changed its name to No.1 line, while the "loop line" is now called No.2 line. All stations along the lines are also labeled with a code number.

When passengers enter a platform, they can see a new station guide, giving the names of every station plus their pinyin names and code number.

The traveling time between any two adjacent stations is also given and the interchange stations are labeled in English.

From the clear, newly painted signs on the plat-form walls passengers can easily find the appropriate train.

In the center of a platform there is also a large colored map about two meters high, on which passengers can locate each station and surrounding prominent buildings.

Some trains are newly equipped with an electronic map, on which the station ahead is shown by a small red light, making it possible for deaf people to gauge their position. All trains are expected to be equipped with this aid.

For passengers or foreigners who are unfamiliar with Beijing's subway, choosing which exit to go out can be a problem. Instead of direction signs in Chinese characters, the letters A, B, C, and D are being used to denote the four different exits, while important landmarks near the exits are marked at the side.

Signs guide passengers to keep to the right side of elevators, leaving the left free for people in a hurry.

To guarantee the safety of passengers getting on and off trains, the traditional manual system of warning drivers has been replaced by 12 cameras monitoring passenger movements fixed at each of the 39 stations on the No.1 and No.2 lines.

( August 14, 2002)

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