Representatives from the Kunming Rail Transit Group (KRTG) have announced the metro lines connecting Chenggong to northern Kunming are nearly finished. On April 20, a "final exam" is scheduled that will determine whether the railway is ready to go into operation. If the transportation system receives the go-ahead from national auditors, it could open for public trial runs as early as April 30.
Technicians and construction crews are working furiously to ensure things run smoothly throughout all 19 new stations spaced along 20.85 kilometers of track. Unmanned train test runs began April 1, but have since started carrying passengers — most of them metro workers, provincial officials and reporters.
The new metro platforms lie along Line One and Line Two. Line One currently begins at the University City Station (大学城站) in the city's southern outskirts and ends at Xiaodong Village Station (晓东村站) near the now decommissioned Wujiaba Airport. The route will be extended by six terminals, ending at transfer stop Huangcheng Nan Lu Station (环城南路站).
At the transit station, passengers will be able to board trains heading further north through 13 stops, most of which lie under Beijing Lu. Line Two ends at the North Bus Station. A trip along the entirety of the two routes covers 42 kilometers and is expected to take between 70 and 75 minutes.
In addition to making sure the stations have properly working elevators, escalators and ticket machines, transit officials are checking to see if there are any bugs in train navigation systems. Speeds along metro tracks are almost entirely automated utilizing a control system currently in use by subways in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Each train will also have a human conductor who can manually override computer systems.
According to KRGT planners, trains will pause for 60 seconds at each platform and run at seven minute intervals. Ticket costs will be determined by the distance a commuter needs to travel and initially range in price from two to seven yuan. Fares will be payable in cash at both ticket machines and vendors, or by swiping a rechargeable metro card.
A hard and fast date for the two lines has not been announced, although April 30 has been labeled a "tentative" goal. Transit authorities are perhaps playing it safe, as construction on the Kunming Metro has repeatedly experienced blown deadlines as well as one fatality. Plans for the projected 300 billion yuan urban rail project were first announced in 2010 with a proposed 2013 finish date for Line One and Line Two. Line Three, which runs east to west through Kunming, has been under construction for four years, but progress reports have not recently been made public.
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