Subway has become an important transportation in the big cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou. New subway projects are being carried out in some cities of Shenzhen and Nanjing. Beijing is the first city in China to have subway. The first line started construction in July 1965.

The Beijing subway serves the urban and suburban districts of Beijing municipality. With 8 lines, over 200 km of tracks and 123 stations currently in operation and ridership averaging 3.4 million per day, the Beijing Subway is the busiest in mainland China, and the second longest after the Shanghai Metro. Ridership set a daily record of 4.92 million. The network is undergoing rapid expansion. Three new lines were opened on July 19, 2008 ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games. Existing plans call for 19 lines and 561 km of tracks in operation by 2015.

The Shanghai Metro incorporates both subway and light railway lines. It opened in 1995, making Shanghai the third city in Mainland China, after Beijing and Tianjin, to have a subway. Since then, the Shanghai Metro has become one of the newest and fastest-growing rapid transit systems in the world. Today, there are eight metro lines, 162 stations and 225 km of tracks in operation, making it the longest network in China, exceeding even the Hong Kong MTR. Daily ridership averaged 3.065 million in 2008. The system is still growing with more new lines and extensions under construction or planned to be built.

The Guangzhou Metro was the fourth metro system to be built in mainland China. Construction began in 1993 and the first line opened in 1997. Today, there are 4 lines in operation with 60 stations over 116 km of tracks. The Guangzhou Metro delivered 601 million rides in 2008. The metro system has 3 lines under construction with 4 more planned. Total operational capacity is scheduled to grow to 190.8 km by 2010 and exceed 600 km in the long term.
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