Metros in China: The Suzhou Metro

The city of Suzhou, which has 10 million inhabitants, is considered a Chinese megalopolis. Just like many other cities in China, Suzhou has experimented an impressive growth in the last 50 years. What started as a town of little touristic value has become a city that won a Nobel Prize in urbanism.

This city is a great manufacturing center, ranking second in number of factories in the nation. It has factories that produce iron, steel, textile products, electronics, and computers.

Likewise, due to its great development, the service sector in Suzhou also represents an economic strength. Among the most profitable services is tourism, which gave 150,000 Yuan to the city in 2013.

Suzhou has also become a focus for foreign investment. This is partly because of its proximity with Shanghai, which has an increasing demand for high quality services, including public transportation services. A clear example of this is the Suzhou Metro.

In the year 2007, the municipal authorities took the decision of carrying out a project to satisfy the transportation needs of the citizens. This greenlit the construction of the Suzhou Metro.

Platform of Guangji Nanlu Station (Suzhou Metro Line 2)

Currently, lines 1, 2, and 4 are operational. Line 1 began construction on December 26th, 2007, and was inaugurated five years later in 2012. Line 2 began to be built on 2009, opening to the public on December 28th, 2013. Line 4 began construction on 2010, and was fully operational on April 15th, 2017. Currently, all the lines cover a total distance of 120 kilometers among their 93 stations. However, there are plans to expand that distance to 240 kilometers before 2020.

Lines and stations

The Suzhou Metro currently has three working lines: lines 1, 2, and 4. These lines cover a total distance of 120 kilometers, and have a total number of 93 stations. Lines 3 and 5 are currently under construction, while lines 6, 7, and 9 are being planned. By the end of 2016, the three lines transported 420,000 people daily, totaling in 136 million passengers in that year.

A summary of facts of lines 1, 2, and 4 will be shown below:

Line 1: From Mudo Station to Zhongnan Jie Station:

This line covers a distance of 25.73 kilometers, and has stations in the districts of Wuzhong, Huqiu, Gusu, and the Suzhou industrial park. These districts are served by a total of 24 stations. Line 1 begins at Mudo station in the district of Wuzhong. The trains from this station go through the city’s historic center and below the industrial park through the longest tunnel in China to reach the Zhongnan Jie terminal. In the metro’s map, this line is marked in green.

There is a project to replace the current trains, which have a maximum speed of 35 kilometers per hour, with newer models, which have a maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour. The newer trains are from models that are the fastest underground trains in the world. The new trains will be able to travel from Mudo to Zhongnan Jie in just 49 minutes.

Likewise, the line 1 trains will not only offer faster journeys, but also an increase in their passenger capacity. The plan is that each train will be able to hold 28,500 passengers per hour during off-peak hours, and 45,000 passengers during peak hours. As a fun fact, 100,000 passengers were transported during the opening day of this line.

Line 2: From Qihe station to Sangtian Dao

Line 2 covers a distance of 26.38 kilometers, and has 22 stations located in three districts. Around 30 trains per hour reach the stations. Each hour, an average of 28,800 passengers use the trains. The trains can carry almost the double of that number of passengers during peak hours, reaching over 40,000 passengers per hour. Traveling from one terminal to the other takes 48 minutes. In general, trains are quite punctual. You can read the arrival times of the next trains in LED screens at the stations.

This line has both underground and surface-level stations. Some of the regions covered in this line are Fu Xiang River Road, Kuwata Island, and the region of Wu Lago Yin. Line 2 begins at northern district of Xiangcheng. Then, the railway continues through the Gusu district, and ends at the eastern district of Wuzhong. This line is marked in the metro’s maps in red.

Line 4: From Longdaobang to Tongli

It is the longest current line, covering a total distance of 42 kilometers. It has 31 stations, located in the districts of Xiangcheng, Gusu, Wuzhong, and Wujiang. Its trains travel through the Lotus Pond Park and the city’s historic center.

Many stations from line 4 are connected with buses and railway services that travel to the outskirts of the city. The stations also connect the eastern part of the city with the west. Line 4 was mainly planned to offer rides to the Economic Development Zone of Wuzhong. This region of strategic importance has an exclusive railway of 10.7 kilometers in length from the metro.

Only 7 of this line’s stations have some autonomy to decide their fares and schedules, which are adjusted to the demand of the region. The future plans for this line is to allow transfers to line 7, which is currently being drafted.

Suzhou Metro Suzhou Metro Station.

Schedule

The Suzhou Metro has a very specific schedule since it includes peak hours, as well as the frequency of departures of the trains during those hours at each line. The schedule for each line is the following:

Line 1:

For this route, the first train begins service at 6:10 am in both terminals of the metro. Meanwhile, the last train leaves at 11:20 pm at Mudo station, which heads towards Zhongnan Jie. Peak hours should be taken into account.

Peak hours during the morning (from 7:30 am to 9:00 am): The trains heading from Zhongnan Jie to Mudo tend to be crowded from 7:44 am to 8:39 am. Meanwhile, the trains heading from Mudo to Zhongnan Jie are crowded between 8:36 am and 9:30 am. All of the aforementioned peak hours occur from Monday to Friday. During these peak hours, the frequency of departures of the trains are three minutes and 10 seconds. This frequency increases to five minutes after the morning peak hours.

Peak hours during the afternoon (from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm): From Zhongnan Jie to Mudo, the trains are filled to capacity between 5:21 pm and 6:00 pm. In the case of the trains heading from Mudo towards Zhongnan Jie, the afternoon peak hours begin at 5:48 pm, and end at 6:30 pm. These trains reach the stations during these peak hours with a frequency of four minutes and 20 seconds.

Line 2

The trains from both terminals from line 2 leave at 6:00 am. Meanwhile, the last train from this line leaves at 11:32 pm from Sangtian Dao towards Qihe. The peak hours from this line are the following:

Peak hours during the morning (from 7:45 am to 9:00 am): The peak hours for the trains heading from Sangtian Dao to Qihe are from 7:45 am until 8:33 am. For the trains heading from Qihe to Sangtian Dao, the trains are filled to capacity between 8:00 am and 8:56 am. During these periods of time, the trains reach the stations each five minutes and 30 seconds.

Peak hours during the afternoon (from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm): During the afternoon, the Suzhou Metro has the highest number of passengers between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. For the trains heading from Sangtian Dao to Qihe, the peak hours are from 5:12 pm to 6:24 pm. Meanwhile, for the trains heading from Qihe to Sangtian Dao, the peak hours occur between 5:54 pm and 6:52 pm. Just like the trains during the morning peak hours, these trains reach the stations during the afternoon peak hours with a frequency of five minutes and 30 seconds.

Line 4

The first trains in the morning leave at 6:00 am from both terminals. Meanwhile, during the evening, the last train from Tongli station towards Longdaobang leaves at 11:30 pm. The peak hours for this line are the following:

Peak hours during the morning (from 7:45 am to 9:00 am): The times when the trains from Tongli to Longdaobang have the highest number of passengers are from 7:45 am to 8:37 am. The peak hours of the trains from Longdaobang to Tongli are between 8:05 am and 9:00 am. The trains reach the stations with a frequency of six minutes and 35 seconds during these peak hours.

Peak hours during the afternoon (from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm): During the evening, there is another set of peak hours. This time, the trains heading from Tongli to Longdaobang have their maximum number of passengers between 5:05 pm and 6:10 pm. Meanwhile, the trains going in the opposite direction (from Longdaobang to Tongli) are crowded between 5:47 pm and 6:55 pm. During the evening peak hours, the trains reach the stations each six minutes and 30 seconds.

Fares

Just like in a lot of subway systems in Asia, the Suzhou Metro fares are based in the total distance travelled by the customer. The ticket price chart is published on the official website of the public firm that manages the metro (www.sz-mtr.com). The minimum fare is 2 Yuan (0.30 USD,) and the maximum fare is 8 Yuan (1.19 USD.)

There are two types of tickets: the standard tickets used in all railway services, and rechargeable cards. The former can be acquired in the ticket vending machines available in all of the metro stations. You can ask for a refund as long as the ticket is in optimal conditions and has not been used. Meanwhile, the latter can also be acquired in the ticket vending machines. The cards can be loaded with a minimum amount of 20 Yuan (2.97 USD,) and a maximum amount of 130 Yuan (19.33 USD.)

Cards are not only good for allowing a higher number of journeys than the tickets, but also because they can be used in the city buses. The metro’s cards are ideal for people staying for a long time in the city, since they offer rides for a cheaper prices than most metro systems in western cities.

Children with a height below 1.30 meters can travel for free, as long as they travel with an adult with a paid ticket. Only one child with an adult can travel for free. If you bring two children, you will have to pay for the ticket of one child. Similarly, people over 65 years old do not have to pay the metro’s fares, as long as they carry a document proving their age.

People in the army, police officers, and any other security personnel with disabilities sustained while on duty will be able to travel for free on the trains and in the city buses. People with disabilities that do not belong to any of the aforementioned categories will have to pay for their ticket, as established by the rules.

Connections

The Suzhou Metro lines are connected to a lot of bus lines that drive throughout the city. The metro’s lines are also connected among themselves. The metro will offer transfers to stations that are not open to the public yet, which will be inaugurated alongside new lines.

Line 1 is connected to the other lines in the following stations:

  • Suzhou Amusement Land Station (苏州乐园站): It will offer a transfer for the future line 3.
  • Guangji Nanlu Station (广济南路站): Transfers to line 2.
  • Leqiao Station (乐桥站): Transfers to line 4.
  • Dongfangzhimen Station (东方之门站): It will transfer to the future line 3.
  • Xingtang Jie Station (星塘街站): It will transfer to the future line 5.

Meanwhile, line 2 is connected to the other lines in the following stations:

  • Suzhou Railway Station (苏州火车站): Allows transfers to line 4.
  • Guangji Nanlu Station (广济南路站): Allows transfers to line 1.
  • Panli Lu Station (盘蠡路): It will allow transfers to the future line 3.
  • Shihu Donglu Station (石湖东路站): Allows transfers to line 4.

Finally, line 4 is connected to the rest of the lines in the following stations:

  • Suzhou Railway Station (苏州火车站): This station allows transfers to line 2.
  • Leqiao Station (乐桥站): Allows transfers to line 1.
  • Shihu Donglu Station (石湖东路站): Allows transfers to line 2.

Rules

  • As it is usual in most subway systems in the world, smoking in the stations and trains in the Suzhou Metro is strictly prohibited.
  • Your belongings should not obstruct the rest of the passengers.
  • Animals of any kind are banned from the Suzhou Metro’s facilities. Therefore, you should seek another means of transportation if you want to bring your pet with you.
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in the rail cars and the stations from the metro.
  • Writing graffiti is strictly prohibited in the stations and trains from the subway.
  • The Metro Suzhou users are banned from carrying flammable materials in the stations and trains from the metro.
  • The users are also banned from carrying weapons, including knives and firearms, unless they have permission by the authorities to do so.
  • The emergency equipment, which is available in every station, should be used only in dangerous situations. Their improper use could result in a fine, or even being banned from the metro.
  • If the metro staff or the surveillance cameras from the metro detect someone crossing the yellow line, which is a dangerous zone in the platforms, they could be fined.
  • Running in the stations and the trains from the Suzhou Metro is prohibited, since doing so is dangerous for you and for the rest of the passengers.
  • Assaults in the Suzhou Metro are penalized with steep fines. Therefore, do not assault neither passengers nor the metro’s personnel.

Future expansions

The managers of the Suzhou Metro are making an investment to expand the subway system. Among the expansions that are currently in progress are the construction of new lines, lines 3 and 5. They will be opened in the short term.

Line 3 will travel to the East and to the West of the city. This line will cover a total distance of 43.5 kilometers, and will have 31 stations. This route is planned to connect the district of Wuzhong with the Suzhou industrial park, as well as the new Suzhou district. Line 3 will also be connected to the neighboring city of Kunshan. Also, line 3 is planned to be connected to line 11 from the Shanghai Metro.

Just like in line 3, line 5 will travel to the East and the West of the city. This line is planned to be open to the public in 2018. Line 5 will have trains that will travel a total distance of 49.5 kilometers. This line will begin at Zhenhu Avenue, which is in the Suzhou new district, and will end at Yinshan Lake, which is in the city’s industrial park. It will have 32 stations, six of which will allow transfers to the rest of the lines of the metro.

Besides lines 3 and 5, the metro’s authorities plan to build another three new lines, lines 6, 7, and 9.

Line 6 will have a railway with a length of 34.2 kilometers. It will also have a total of 29 stations, which will be connected to other lines from the metro. This line is expected to be connected to the districts of Gao Xin and Nanjing. The construction of this line will begin in 2017.

Meanwhile, for line 7, the plan is to build 11 kilometers of railway, making it one of the shortest line of the metro. The number of stations for this line has not been decided yet, but they will allow journeys from north to south, and then to the east.

Finally, line 9 will have a 54 kilometer long railway and 27 stations. Its trains will travel from the southeast to the south of the city. Just like the rest of the lines, line 9 will be connected with the other lines of the subway system.

Nearby attractions

Near the Leqiao station from line 1, the tourists in Suzhou can visit the beautiful Guan Qian Shopping Street Boulevard. It is similar to an open air mall, full of shops and leisure facilities. It is an ideal place to visit for anyone that wish to buy a souvenir from Suzhou. It is also worth mentioning that there is a lot of commercial activity in the area, which is why you should bring a certain amount of money. In any case, you can also enjoy the architecture from the place.

Suzhou is also known as the Eastern Venice, and the Shangtan Street region perfectly shows why it has that name. It is located near the Shangtan Street Station from line 2, bearing the same name as the neighborhood. During the evening, the lights, the canals, which are navigated by canoes, and the open air restaurants give life to a sublime scenery that should be experienced by anyone. Whoever has the opportunity of visiting the city should not miss such a beautiful place.

Metro map of Suzhou

Metro map of Suzhou Full resolution
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Suzhou Subway map

  • Also Known As: Subway
  • Passengers/Day
  • Fares:
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • 2 yuan
  • Suzhou Metro Official Website

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