BEIJING - China will soon surpass other countries in the combined length of its subway systems, which is expected to reach 8,500 kilometers by 2020, Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang said on Thursday in Beijing.
Nineteen cities have recently extended their metro systems, with total mileage expected to hit 3,000 km by the end of the year, the minister said.
Public transit, especially the subway, has had a major effect on easing congestion in Beijing, and the government will inject more funding to promote its development, said Dai Junliang, deputy mayor of Beijing.
Four new subway lines will open to the public this month, which will extend the capital's subway to 527 km, the longest in the country.
Daily ridership will increase gradually to more than 10 million, the Beijing Commission of Transport said. To guarantee safety with such large passenger numbers, security should be strengthened, Yang said.
Staffing numbers at some subway systems are not sufficient, and some staff members are not qualified in employing high technology, leaving the potential for security risks.
On Thursday, Beijing's subway system held a drill involving a hypothetical situation where a subway train derails, injuring dozens of passengers.
Teams from the subway and bus companies, medical personnel and traffic police, rehearsed rescuing trapped passengers and resuming passenger service.
Chen Wen, a director in charge of emergency response and coordination with Beijing Metro Group, said more than 70 emergency plans have been prepared for different situations.
Beijing has 26 professional emergency rescue teams with more than 500 members and holds more than 600 drills every year to sharpen capabilities in dealing with emergencies, such as fire in a metro station or equipment failures.
In addition to frequent drills, Yang called for improved laws and regulations to promote metro management and security.