NANJING -- On Saturday, Line 11 of the Suzhou metro went into operation, linking the city of Suzhou, a major GDP contributor in East China's Jiangsu province, with Shanghai, another economic heavyweight in the region.
This is the first time that the core cities in the Yangtze River Delta region have linked their separate urban subway systems transcending administrative boundaries and geographical barriers in different provincial-level regions.
The newly launched Line 11 of the Suzhou metro is also part of Line 11 of the Shanghai metro, according to the subway design.
The trans-provincial subway line can cut the travel time between city propers of Suzhou and Shanghai to about two hours. The route was planned as early as a decade ago.
"Actually, Line 11 is Suzhou's sixth subway route and was named in advance back then, indicative of the city's ambition to better integrate into the Yangtze River Delta region," said Lu Wenxue, general manager of Suzhou Rail Transit Group Co, Ltd.
Passengers can now transfer between the metro lines of the two cities at the Kunshan Huaqiao Station in Jiangsu's Kunshan city. Notably, Kunshan has ranked first among China's top 100 county-level cities in terms of overall competitiveness for 18 consecutive years.
The launch of the intercity subway line also paves the way for further synergetic development of Suzhou and Shanghai. At present, many Fortune 500 enterprises have built their Chinese headquarters in Shanghai while placing their factories in Suzhou.
"As the region is turbocharging its development into the world's sixth-largest city cluster, more convenient intercity traffic is a must," said He Jianhua, a researcher with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
In the future, Line 3 of the Suzhou metro will also be extended to Jiangsu's Wuxi city, allowing passengers taking the subway in Shanghai to reach more cities to its west.
Located at the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the Yangtze River Delta region encompasses Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. The Yangtze River Delta is one of the country's most economically active, open and innovative regions, and produces about one-fourth of the national GDP.