Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (and Subways): The Changes

A lot of changes have gone into place during the month of July for travelers in Beijing and around China and this will serve as an attempt to summarize all of them. This can be extremely difficult as these changes are applied differently in each area and are continually revised.

The simple one. As of July 20th, a second set of searches/id checks has been put into place in 20 different airports around the country, including all Olympic city airports.

Heightened security is to be expected for those taking trains around China. The major change is that tickets for all trains other than the Beijing/Shanghai to Hong Kong train will go on sale 5 days ahead of time, instead of the previous 10 days. Rumor out of Shanghai, though, is that tickets for Shanghai to Beijing are now available only 3 days ahead of time.

More helpful changes will be the opening of the Beijing South Railway Station, expected to take place on or around August 1st. Another change that will be advantageous to Olympics fans in Beijing will be the opening of the high speed train to Tianjin, the world's fastest, which will get you there in under a half hour.

One of the most talked about changes was the "even-odd" traffic restrictions which have been called a last ditch effort to clean up the air. It doesn't seem like it's made a difference and with all those cars off the road and traffic hasn't gotten much lighter. Part of the reason for that are the new Olympic lanes that have been put into place on Chang'An Avenua, 2nd and 3rd Ring Road, and other major Beijing roads. These lanes can only be used by police or cars with Olympic plates.

The good: Line 10, the Olympic Spur, and the Airport Express opened up last week to much fanfare, though the Airport Express (ABC) has taken some criticism, perhaps just opening day issues that will be worked out soon. Many of the cars on Line 2 have been phased out, adding more new cars, and the ride will be quicker, reduced from the current 3 minutes to 2.

The bad(?): Security checks have been added to many (if not all) subway stations and range in strictness. Fears that these checks would cause lines and passenger delays have yet to become an issue, but the subway security guards have been relatively lax in doing their jobs. Things differ, however, when they add a number of cops in the stations. Despite fear of "international terrorists", laowai tend to have a far easier time avoiding the security checks than Chinese.

So here's a look at some of these changes, we'll try to update you as we find out more or new provisions are adopted.

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