Chinese President Hu Jintao rode the Beijing metro system Wednesday to test the capital's transport preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games.
Wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, he stepped onto a China Railways High-speed (CRH) train that shuttles between the Beijing South Railway Station and the neighbouring Tianjin Municipality.
"The high-speed trains have been a milestone in the history of China's railway development," he told rail officials and stewards while on board. He stressed the need to provide safe and fast service during the August Games.
The inter-city shuttle will transport Olympic spectators, athletes and other passengers within 30 minutes between the two cities at a speed of about 300 km/h during the Games. Some football preliminary matches will be held in Tianjin.
The Beijing South Railway Station, still under final construction, will be put in formal use Aug. 1. It will be a sophisticated railway hub for the inter-city CRH between Beijing and Tianjin as well as Beijing and Shanghai.
When arriving back to the Dongzhimen metro terminal in the capital's downtown, Hu purchased a ticket from an automat machine and test rode the new line to the Beijing Capital International Airport.
"Beijing's metro system has developed quickly by extending its length and coverage. The system has made a great contribution to easing the traffic pressure.
"The metro's administrators should provide safe, comfortable and fast transportation for both the Olympic personnel and ordinary citizens during the Games, since visitors from home and abroad will increase a lot."
Hu, accompanied by Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) Chairman Liu Qi, encouraged the capital's metro officials to improve its management and service to serve citizens and the Olympics, with only 43 days to go before the Games.
After the 20-minute ride, Hu reminded waitresses serving in the main hall of the newly-built Terminal Three at the airport to keep in good order and provide decent service, as the spectacular Norman Foster-designed structure was the "first gate of the country" that most foreigners saw.
Hu told some foreign passengers waiting in the terminal that China would "open its arms to welcome all the friends of the world to come."
A female passenger coming from Switzerland said to the president that China had made amazing changes and her friends would come to Beijing this summer to watch the Games.
Hu also inspected the main tower of the airport which handled thousands of flights daily and was delighted to know that parking bays for aircraft had been increased from 164 to 314.
A tower official told the visitors it had been prepared for the Games with various plans and the staff had also been trained in them on many occasions.
"All the transportation systems prepared for the Games should do their last-minute checks and secure safety and speed as the host city promised to the world," Hu said. "The preparations should satisfy all visitors and benefit local residents."
(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2008)