City Weekend - - Cover Story -

The metro in Beijing is the most con­ve­nient and com­fort­able way to com­mute (ex­cept dur­ing rush hour). The hy­dra-like tracks un­der and above ground did not hap­pen overnight. It all started back in 1965 when land was cleared to con­struct the net­work. The first line was Line 1. Shocker...

Le­gend has it that in the ini­tial days of con­struc­tion, the work­ers faced a lot of prob­lems from equipment mal­func­tion­ing to hor­rific ac­ci­dents. The lo­cals be­lieved that the devel­op­ment had in­fu­ri­ated the dead who had be­come home­less be­cause of the dig­ging and drilling. It is also be­lieved that be­cause Line 1 con­nects to Babaoshan (the ceme­tery), it held a cer­tain sense of other worldly spirit. To solve the prob­lems, monks were brought in to per­form cer­e­monies to put the souls at rest. It was de­cided that the metro would not run af­ter 11pm (it is be­lieved that 11pm to 1am is the time for souls to rest) ex­cept for one train that would do a lap with­out any live pas­sen­gers to de­liver the souls back to their rest­ing place. Sur­pris­ingly, af­ter this cer­e­mony there were no more trou­bles and the con­struc­tion con­tin­ued on with­out a hitch. Though the last metro in Beijing to­day runs past 11pm, if you are not ad­ven­tur­ous, leave the last train to the spir­its. You never know what lurks in those dark tun­nels.

By the way, did you know that Line 1 ex­tends to a few re­stricted sta­tions beyond Ping­guoyuan? Why? Some say it leads to a mil­i­tary base and oth­ers say it has se­cret bunker-like fa­cil­ity since 1950. The fact is that Line 1 of Beijing metro is shrouded with some mys­ter­ies.

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